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PHP_In_A_Nutshell

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					PHP In A Nutshell

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829

Summary:
If you have spent the better part of the last few years on the Internet,
you may have already chanced upon the term PHP. You may have even
encountered the definition: “a server-side scripting language”. But what
exactly does it mean? And more importantly, what use can it be to you as
an aspiring Web developer or Web designer?

Going back to the definition for a little while, PHP is indeed a server-
side scripting language that is typically used in the creation of dynamic
Web...


Keywords:
php


Article Body:
If you have spent the better part of the last few years on the Internet,
you may have already chanced upon the term PHP. You may have even
encountered the definition: “a server-side scripting language”. But what
exactly does it mean? And more importantly, what use can it be to you as
an aspiring Web developer or Web designer?

Going back to the definition for a little while, PHP is indeed a server-
side scripting language that is typically used in the creation of dynamic
Web pages. It is a relatively easy to learn programming language that
enables you to feature more dynamic content on your web sites.

PHP is different from other types of programming languages in that it is
designed to work in conjunction with HTML. This compatibility is a
distinct advantage of PHP and allows you to easily integrate it into web
pages that have already been extensively rendered with HTML. This
integration is in fact so seamless that you can quite readily switch
between the two languages even within the same web document.

How this while thing works is basically like this: web sites are
typically designed with a combination of PHP and HTML in varying
proportions depending on the designer’s intended purpose. When a visitor
points his browser to the web page in question, the server will “read”
and subsequently process the PHP instructions and later send the results
of the process to the browser of the visitor. This is pretty much similar
to how other languages such as ASP or ColdFusion work. The main
difference however is that PHP, unlike the aforementioned ASP or
ColdFusion, PHP is both an Open Source and a cross-platform application.
What this means is that PHP can be run under the Windows NT platform as
well as many versions of the UNIX platform. In addition, PHP can be
designed to function as an Apache module and even as a binary that can be
run as a CGI.
PHP by its very nature is exceptionally light and fast to run but when
designed to run as an Apache module it is even more so. The absence of
any process creation overhead allows PHP to return results quickly
compared with other programming languages plus it has the added benefit
of not requiring the tuning of mod_perl in order to limit your server's
memory image to a manageably small size.

Beyond its usage as a means to control and alter the contents of your web
pages, PHP can also serve to function as an HTTP header sender. It is
typically used in this function to set cookies in web browsers, manage
the site authentication processes, and to redirect users to other sites.
PHP also works well with other programs and applications, enabling
unparalleled connectivity with many different databases as well as ODBC,
as well as offering seamless integration with many different external
libraries; libraries that allow you to accomplish tasks such as
publishing PDF documents and even parsing XML.

The way PHP fits within your web pages is extremely elegant in its
simplicity; so simple in fact you will not need a special development
environment or IDE at all. You merely have to place a at the end. PHP can
also be configured to utilize ASP type tags as well as .). The PHP engine
is charged with the task of processing everything that is contained
within those tags.

If you have had an extensive or even only a little background in
programming languages, you may have already noticed that PHP has a lot in
common with the languages C and Perl, especially in its language syntax.
Just like in C and Perl, you do not have to declare variables prior to
you using them, and it is also quite easy to create arrays and hashes
(associative arrays).

So much for its characteristics; now how can you use PHP?

One of the most often mentioned and widely used applications of PHP is
for server side scripting. This has traditionally been the area in which
PHP has been focused. The three components of PHP in this particular
application are: a PHP parser (which can take the form of a CGI or server
module), a web browser and a web server. The web server is run with a PHP
installation connected and the program output of the PHP program is
accessed with a web browser. The PHP page can then be viewed through the
web server.

Command line scripting is another area where PHP is utilized and for this
application you only need a PHP parser. Typical uses include rudimentary
text processing and running scripts such as Cron or Task Scheduler.

Finally, although not the ideal solution for this particular scenario,
PHP is also used in writing desktop applications that feature a graphical
user interface.

Clearly the uses for PHP are both varied and endless and you should
explore it in depth to find out how it can be of service to you.

				
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