- PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor.
- As we said before it is a server-side scripting language.
- PHP is free and is an open source software product.
- The PHP scripts are executed on the server.
- PHP supports many databases (MySQL, Sybase, Oracle and many others.)
- PHP runs on different platforms (Unix, Linux, Windows.)
- PHP is compatible with almost all web-servers used today (Apache, IIS, etc.)
- A PHP file can contain plain text, HTML tags and scripts
- The PHP files can have one of the following extensions: php, php3 or phtml.
What do you need?
Before learning PHP Programming you need to have the following:
Access to a web server (like Apache)
PHP and MySQL should be installed on the web server
The easiest way is to find a cheap web hosting plan that support PHP and MySQL (most of the web-hosting providers do.) For a couple of bucks a month you can get a virtual host. The advantage is that everything is already installed and that you can share your program (that you are going to write) with the rest of the world.
If you don’t want to spend money, you can also install everything on your local machine. The easiest way is to install WAMP if you have a Windows machine and LAMP if you have a Linux machine. (WAMP = Windows Apache MySQL PHP and LAMP = Linux Apache MySQL PHP.) These packages install everything you need. Read the install manual of these packages for instructions. After installation you should have access to http://localhost in your browser.
Advantages of PHP
- Open source: It is developed and maintained by a large group of PHP developers, this will helps in creating a support community, abundant extension library.
- Speed: It is relative fast since it uses much system resource.
- Easy to use: It uses C like syntax, so for those who are familiar with C, it’s very easy for them to pick up and it is very easy to create website scripts.
- Stable: Since it is maintained by many developers, so when bugs are found, it can be quickly fixed.
- Powerful library support: You can easily find functional modules you need such as PDF, Graph etc.
- Built-in database connection modules: You can connect to database easily using PHP, since many websites are data/content driven, so we will use database frequently, this will largely reduce the development time of web apps.
- Can be run on many platforms, including Windows, Linux and Mac, it’s easy for users to find hosting service providers.
Disadvantages of PHP
- Not suitable for large applications: Hard to maintain since it is not very modular.
- Weak type: Implicit conversion may surprise unwary programmers and lead to unexpected bugs. For example, the strings “1000” and “1e3” compare equal because they are implicitly cast to floating point numbers