Sam Moffatt

Written by pasamio   
Sunday, 16 January 2005

What is PHP?
PHP: Hypertext Processor (yeah, one of those) is a programming language mostly designed to do dynamic web sites from databases. PHP is open source, and strongly tied to another open source program, the MySQL database. PHP provides an 'interpretter' to a web server (typically Apache) running on a computer (typically Linux). This leads to the term "LAMP" development, or Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. This combination make PHP a powerful contender as a language for developing web sites in.

What does 'interpretted' mean?
In the world of computer programming, there are three primary forms of computer programs, compiled programs, byte-code and interpretted programs. Compiled programs are programs written primarily in Visual Basic, Pascal, C or C++. Once 'compiled' from source, these programs remain as they are until they are 'recompiled'. Byte-code is similar to compiled programs, but differ that they are not completely 'compiled', they are translated from source into a code that a program can interpret later. Examples of this is Microsoft's .Net system and Java. Interpretted programs are never compiled and remain in their source form requiring another program (of the compiled variety) to run them and 'interpret' the instructions and execute them. Developing with interpretted languages is incredibly rapid as programs do not need to be compiled and then run, just reinterpretted. Examples of other interpretted languages are Perl (also used for Web Development) and many Unix/Linux shells. Interpretted languages do suffer when it comes to extreme number crunching and performance. For most cases, this is acceptable.

PHP Resources
PHP is perhaps one of the best documented languages about. is your one stop shop for almost everything PHP, and if that doesn't work, Google is available as well. The web site contains downloads for PHP and a searchable function list with user contributed comments (and examples).

Getting Started
Anyone who has learned C will feel at home in this language, a lot of the functions mirror the C (POSIX) counterparts. Tutorials and examples are avaiable online to help you get started in PHP, so check out Google.

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