The Beginners Guide to PHP

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What Is PHP?

The full form of PHP is Hypertext PreProcessor and is a server-side scripting language. The PHP code can be combined with regular HTML tags and parsed on the server. The creator of PHP, Rasmus Lerdorf first displayed the language in the form of a Perl script . In 1997 it was adapted by Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski to use a C-written compiler. They completely reconstructed the original PHP into the web language that we know and use today.

Uses of PHP

It is used in the creation of dynamic web pages. Web developers like it because of its fast parsing and flexibility and versatility. PHP is a popular tool for managing a form’s data after it is submitted and comes built in with many different interfaces and API’s. It has database capability built into the language, the most common database being MySQL. Typically the PHP can connect to any SQL enabled database.

The Syntax of PHP is similar in structure to Perl and C where curly braces { } define blocks of code and semi-colons specify the end of a statement PHP is as easy to learn as Perl. It maintains all the traditional loops, if/else, and subroutines that are expected in a programming language. One difference between the two is that the code’?’ is embedded in with the HTML; you could however, use a separate file. The PHP code is different from HTML code by use of the opening and closing tags. When it finds a PHP file, it tells the server to scan through for these tags, and execute the code in between them. The server recognizes a PHP enabled file by its extension, .php. These are essentially HTML files with PHP codes in them.

Getting Started

To start PHP requires a server with PHP installed and a simple ASCII text editor such as Notepad or VI, eMacs, Kate, etc. for a UNIX/Linux machine.

What are the problems faced by PHP?

It is case sensitive. For example if you name a variable $MyVar, you cannot call it as $myvar or $mYvAr. In case you forget to close your curly brackets, then it helps to indent lines inside the curly braces so that any missing braces can be spotted easily.

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