Server-Side Solutions with PHP
By Ari Gilder
PHP stands for Php: Hypertext Preprocessor (don’t ask me why the first initial is Php – no one knows!) and was made by Zend Technologies. It’s based highly on the C language, like many other scripting languages. Why is it so powerful? Because it allows for simple, quick and easy access to databases, text files and interaction and manipulation of the client’s header variables (the data that a client sends back to the web page when it requests it). Also, there are many useful addons to PHP, such as the GD library, which allows you to create images dynamically. One application of this which I have created (which is available from my website – http://arigi.tripod.com) is a pie chart generator.
The most powerful feature about PHP has to be its ability to interact with many types of databases, the most common being MySQL (others including PostgreSQL, MS SQL, mSQL, Oracle, etc.). PHP provides simple functions for executing powerful code and storing/retrieving from databases with ease.
PHP is initialized with a <?php tag and closed with ?>. Like any other C-based language, every statement must have a semicolon after it. The current version of PHP is 4.0.6, and is available for download for free at http://www.php.net. PHP runs most commonly on Apache Web Server software, but can work with most anything.
If you’d like to get into the web business, I’d definitely recommend you learn PHP. A good starting point would be to read the book Professional PHP Programming from Wrox Press Publishing. It’s a pretty fat book, and you don’t need to read it all (in fact, I recommend you not read it all), but it will definitely serve as adequate material to learn PHP from.