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PHP Basic Questions

One great thing about PHP is it is great for people that are new to web programming, it’s very easy to start with and also can get really technical for the veterans. PHP started as Personal Home Page tools, it was started to assist new users with programming. The syntax is very easy to use and is very intuitive. PHP is a good language to start on and learn the basics of programming. With the tutorials on this site you should be able to get started using PHP to create dynamic web sites.

How does PHP work?

PHP is a server side scripting language. So PHP does the work on the ‘back-end’, preprocessing web sites and inserting dynamic data before they are displayed. Unlike JavaScript which is a programming language that works while the page is being viewed by the browser on the users computer. PHP is very similar to Macromedia’s ColdFusion and Microsoft’s ASP.NET.

All you do is just embed the code into an HTML page and give it a .php file name extension and you are good to go.

What do I need to get started?

Two things; a web server running PHP on it and a HTML editor. Most web hosting companies offer PHP for no additional cost. This is a major advantage over Macromedia’s ColdFusion which is an extra charge for most hosting companies.

What are some uses for PHP?

PHP can handle the output from HTML forms, collect the data, then email it to someone or enter it into a database. You can even write your own online store, message forums, pretty much anything you can think of that uses data and writes to a database. In short to give the basics you can :

  • Access databases
  • Access files on your server
  • Access system commands
  • This is especially interesting – many system administrators could use this to run common applications on their server. For example I had an old Perl script that ran and cleaned up a lot of not needed files on our server. That Perl script can still be used and call upon from PHP, very powerful stuff.

How much does PHP cost?

As state above PHP is free. How is that? Three words; open source software. Open source software is very different from non-open source software companies. The term means that the source code is available for all to see, anyone has the ability to view the code to see how PHP operates, the same can not be said about Microsoft’s Windows code which is guarded heavily away. PHP and open source software as whole operates on a very large (and very wonderful) community, there is no giant corporate office that runs it.