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PHP for Beginners – Introduction

Mar22

Written by:
2010/03/22 10:57 AM RssIcon

PHP

PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages on the web. PHP is used to liven up normal HTML pages as well as make the pages dynamic as apposed to static HTML.

With PHP, you can do things like create username and password login pages, check details from a form, create forums, picture galleries, surveys, and a whole lot more. For a lot of bloggers Wordpress is the premium blogging platform on the web. This is a very good example of how one can make a dynamic web page and web site by using PHP.

The most popular explanation of just what PHP stands for is "Hypertext Pre-processor". "The initials PHP come from the earliest version of the program, which was called 'Personal Home Page Tools' "

Scripting vs Compiling vs Interpretive

PHP is known as a server-sided language. That's because the PHP doesn't get executed on your computer, but on the computer you requested the page from. The results are then handed over to you, and displayed in your browser. Other scripting languages you may have heard of are ASP, Python and Perl

It is also known as a scripting and interpretive language. As compared with other languages like Visual Basic and C#, which are compiled languages. Compiled meaning that they are tuned into machine readable binary code.

An interpretive language means that the program is not executed by the computer itself, but needs some intermediary runtime to compile it first. So an Interpretive language compiles every time you run it.

Many times C# and PHP are compared to see which is best. But realistically one is interpretive scripting language and the other is compiled. Making the comparison slightly different.

The Tools

To run and execute PHP code you need the PHP language. A Web server, and a Database Server. Fortunately all these are available free.

Fortunately there are tools that we can download that makes installation and setup of these a lot easier. If you prefer to get your hands dirty, you can download the individual parts and set them up. But most would prefer the idiot proof way. One click setup.

Most  people download as a WAMP, LAMP, MAMP. An acronym that stands for Windows –Apache –MySQL – PHP (WAMP), or Linux – Apache –MySQL – PHP (LAMP), or Mac – Apache –MySQL – PHP (MAMP). Bundled software you need to get going.

You can find these at WAMP, LAMP, MAMP

Here is a list of AMP packages.

There is also another relatively easy install package called EasyPHP. Which is actually a breeze to install and gives you everything you need to develop and test PHP on a Windows PC.

You can also use IIS, Windows Web server and PHP. The setup is slightly different.  Check out this excellent Tutorial. Installing PHP on IIS.

Installation and setup instructions are beyond the scope of this post. I would strongly suggest that you read the setup instructions of whichever system you choose to go for.

If you have one of the PHP blogs or CMS’s installed then you are already set to go and the above would not matter.

Related Reading:

Is PHP a skill set or a professional track.

C# (.NET) vs PHP Which is a better web development platform

How to work with Apache, MySQL, PHP and PhpMyAdmin on your local machine

Installing Joomla onto IIS7 with PHP5.2 and MySQL 5 running Vista Business.

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