Created in 1994, this is a versatile embedded scripting language that can be placed into HTML documents. As long as the webserver supports it, PHP can be used to generate HTML pages by accessing a database. PHP code is executed on the server, and offers an alternative to CGI or SSI calls, or the use of languages such as ColdFusion.
PHP is a widely-used general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded into HTML.
In an HTML document, PHP script (similar syntax to that of Perl or C ) is enclosed within special PHP tags. Because PHP is embedded within tags, the author can jump between HTML and PHP (similar to ASP and Cold Fusion) instead of having to rely on heavy amounts of code to output HTML. And, because PHP is executed on the server, the client cannot view the PHP code.
PHP can perform any task that any CGI program can do, but its strength lies in its compatibility with many types of databases. Also, PHP can talk across networks using IMAP, SNMP, NNTP, POP3, or HTTP.
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PHP is a popular scripting language that was originally designed to program dynamic Web pages. Its most popular use is for server-side scripting, but PHP is also used for command-line scripting and for writing desktop applications.
PHP is server-side:
Your browser doesn't realise the pages it is viewing are initially written with PHP. All it receives is an HTML page - as complex or as simple as you want.
PHP is HTML-embedded:
A PHP page can be simply an HTML page with a little PHP sprinkled here and there
The PHP bits are parsed ("translated") by the server - in the examples presented here, they will be mainly used to produce more HTML code. The HTML code on the page is sent directly to the browser.
Whitespace (tabs, spaces, returns) doesn't really matter. You can write <?$title="mytitle";?> or <? $title = "mytitle" ; ?>, both work.
Each statement ends with a semi-colon ";".
When inside PHP tags, you can add comments:
/* comment */
(everything until the end of the line will be ignored in the two last cases; in the first case, the comment can span multiple lines).
You can switch from PHP to HTML and back just about anywhere. Make your experiences!
PHP files are usually named "something.php" (on some servers you can use "something.php3" or even "something.phtml").
ariables can have just about any size. For example, all the text you are reading now is the value of one big variable named $content.
Variable names start with a dollar sign ("$"), followed by an alphabetic character or an underscore, optionally followed by alphanumeric characters or underscores.
They are case-sensitive. They do not have to be declared or assigned a type.
PHP also supports array variables (e.g. $somevar = "something") and objects, but their discussion is beyond the scope of this article.
print and echo do just about the same thing: they send their argument to the browser. There is a small difference between them, but I'm not yet sure what it is... ; )
When using print, echo, or when assigning a string value to a variable, you have the choice between using double quotes or single quotes (if the argument is a naked variable, you can also use no quotes at all).
Single quotes will reproduce the text between them with no modifications. Line breaks, spacings, variable names and fun characters will all come out how you printed them. But! if the text between the quotes contains single quotes, you have to replace them by the escape sequence "backslash-quote": "\'". And what if you want a backslash? Use a double backslash: "\\".
Double quotes will replace variables by their value, and ignore newlines and tabs. Here are some escape sequences: newline = "\n", tab = "\t", double quote = "\"", backslash = "\\", dollar = "$"...
Until you know better, I recommend using single quotes unless the string contains a variable to be replaced.
If you want to define a very long variable (for example, lots of text), you might want to use the here doc syntax.
An empty variable, e.g. $potato = ''; will return false when its boolean value is called for. It will not create an error if you attempt to print it.
As it should be clear from the example above, an include is a simple ASCII file, and there is no special "dressing" to put around it. Just cut out a chunk of HTML from a page and stick it in a separate file: you have an include.
Include files can have any extension. You can name an include "blahblah.bla" if you wish.
It is common to name them "something.inc", but using other extensions can sometimes make sense. For example, a file with a ".txt" extension will be viewable directly in most browsers, whereas trying to view includes with other extensions may simply result in the browser prompting you to "Save as...". I have often used ".des" for some of my files to indicate that they were "design" files. Naming includes is a perfectly personal choice.
The require function replaces itself with the contents of the file it calls, whereas include is more like a branch that points to it. This can make a difference if you are using a loop to call different includes: if you use require, the statement will be replaced by the first file during the first loop, and you will end up with (e.g.) three times the same file instead of three different files. If you are not quite sure which to choose, follow this rule of thumb: In control statements and functions, use include. Otherwise, use require (which is supposed to be a little faster).
An include can call another include. The include is read just as a normal PHP file, which means that you can put in an include anything that you would put in a "normal" PHP file.
Calling an include with relative or server-relative urls sometimes creates trouble. I usually use include("$DOCUMENT_ROOT/path/filename"); or include("http://$HTTP_HOST/path/filename") - do a few tests on your own server to see what works for you. You will get a listing of server variables like $DOCUMENT_ROOT or $REQUEST_URI with the function phpinfo().
Make a standard page for your site. Don't forget to polish up your HTML and validate it.
Identify the "variable" parts of your page. The bits of HTML that change from page to page will be replaced by PHP variables, like in the "Title" example higher up in this page. This is how the finished design template would look like.
Create a new file, which could be named here "example.php3", and give the necessary values to the needed variables to produce the finished page once the server has parsed the PHP. Here is what this "PHP page" could look like.
You can now create as many "PHP pages" as your site requires, which all call up the design template. This allows you to create new pages without worrying about design and layout, and it also allows you to change the design completely by modifying a single file.
By default, variables are always assigned by value. That is to say, when you assign an expression to a variable, the entire value of the original expression is copied into the destination variable. This means, for instance, that after assigning one variable's value to another, changing one of those variables will have no effect on the other. For more information on this kind of assignment, see the chapter on Expressions.
PHP also offers another way to assign values to variables: assign by reference. This means that the new variable simply references (in other words, "becomes an alias for" or "points to") the original variable. Changes to the new variable affect the original, and vice versa.
It is not necessary to initialize variables in PHP however it is a very good practice. Uninitialized variables have a default value of their type depending on the context in which they are used - booleans default to FALSE, integers and floats default to zero, strings (e.g. used in echo()) are set as an empty string and arrays become to an empty array.
Relying on the default value of an uninitialized variable is problematic in the case of including one file into another which uses the same variable name. It is also a major security risk with register_globals turned on. E_NOTICE level error is issued in case of working with uninitialized variables, however not in the case of appending elements to the uninitialized array. isset() language construct can be used to detect if a variable has been already initialized.
You may be wondering why you should choose PHP over other languages such as Perl or even why you should learn a scripting language at all. I will deal with learning scripting languages first. Learning a scripting language, or even understanding one, can open up huge new possibilities for your website. Although you can download pre-made scripts from sites like Hotscripts, these will often contain advertising for the author or will not do exactly what you want. With an understanding of a scripting language you can easily edit these scripts to do what you want, or even create your own scripts.
Using scripts on your website allows you to add many new 'interactive' features like feedback forms, guestbooks, message boards, counters and even more advanced features like portal systems, content management, advertising managers etc. With these sort of things on your website you will find that it gives a more professional image. As well as this, anyone wanting to work in the site development industry will find that it is much easier to get a job if they know a scripting language.
Writing PHP on your computer is actually very simple. You don't need any specail software, except for a text editor (like Notepad in Windows). Run this and you are ready to write your first PHP script.
One of the major uses of a server side scripting language is to provide a way of sending e-mail from the server and, in particular, to take form input and output it to an e-mail address.
Mail is extremely easy to send from PHP, unlike using scripting languages which require special setup (like CGI). There is actually just one command, mail() for sending mail. It is used as follows:
This is acutally a very important character when sending e-mail. It is the new line character and tells PHP to take a new line in an e-mail. It is very important that this is put in after each header you add so that your e-mail will follow the international standards and will be delivered.
The \n code can also be used in the body section of the e-mail to put line breaks in but should not be used in the subject or the To field.
Being able to place HTML code into your PHP is very useful, but what happens if you want to put the value of a variable into the code. Unlike when using an echo or print statement, you can't just put in the variable name as this section is not actually part of the PHP code. Instead you must just put in a little PHP.
To output text in your PHP script is actually very simple. As with most other things in PHP, you can do it in a variety of different ways. The main one you will be using, though, is print. Print will allow you to output text, variables or a combination of the two so that they display on the screen.
The print statement is used in the following way:
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PHP is Web Scripting language originally created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1995, as Personal Homepage Tools, now referred to as HyperText Preprocessor. After the PHP 3 release, the language gained popularity and today is one of the most used web programming languages for producing dynamic web sites. The newest version is 5 which adds many features, security, and enhanced OOP (Object Oriented Programming) support. PHP often comes in bundle with Apache httpd - web server and MySQL - relational database system, called LAMP or WAMP (L stands for Linux, W for windows). Many popular websites are powered by PHP including facebook.com, youtube (in the beginning), some google services, digg.com - the news portal and many others. Wordpress the popular weblog (blog) platform is built with PHP.
PHP is one of the most popular server side scripting languages running today. It is used for creating dynamic webpages that interact with the user offering customized information. PHP offers many advantages; it is fast, stable, secure, easy to use, open source and fully supported by Servage Hosting.
PHP code is inserted directly into the HTML that makes up a website. When a visitor comes to the website, the code is executed. Because PHP is a server side technology, the user does not need any special browser or plug-ins to see the PHP in action. The beauty of PHP lies in its simplicity. It is easy to understand and learn.
Another key advantage of PHP is its connective abilities. PHP uses a modular system of extensions to interface with a variety of libraries such as graphics, XML, encryption, etc. In addition to extensions, PHP has many of server interfaces, database interfaces and other modules available.
Since PHP is an open source project, the PHP community is willing to share. If you are looking for a particular script, chances are another user has already created something similar. Check within the PHP community for availability. Likewise, if you have created a function that others might enjoy, be sure to post the code for others.
PHP and MySQL are usually associated with LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). However, most PHP developer ( including me ) are actually using Windows when developing the PHP application. So this page will only cover the WAMP ( Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP ). You will learn how to install Apache, PHP, and MySQL under Windows platform.
Installing apache is easy if you download the Microsoft Installer ( .msi ) package. Just double click on the icon to run the installation wizard. Click next until you see the Server Information window. You can enter localhost for both the Network Domain and Server Name. As for the administrator's email address you can enter anything you want.
Click the Next button and choose Typical installation. Click Next one more time and choose where you want to install Apache ( I installed it in the default location C:\Program Files\Apache Group ). Click the Next button and then the Install button to complete the installation process.
By default Apache's document root is set to htdocs directory. The document root is where you must put all your PHP or HTML files so it will be process by Apache ( and can be seen through a web browser ). Of course you can change it to point to any directory you want. The configuration file for Apache is stored in C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\conf\httpd.conf ( assuming you installed Apache in C:\Program Files\Apache Group ) . It's just a plain text file so you can use Notepad to edit it.
For example, if you want to put all your PHP or HTML files in C:\www just find this line in the httpd.conf :
DocumentRoot "C:/Program Files/Apache Group/Apache2/htdocs"
and change it to :
First, extract the PHP package ( php-4.3.10-Win32.zip ). extract the package in the directory where Apache was installed ( C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2 ). Change the new created directory name to php ( just to make it shorter ). Then copy the file php.ini-dist in PHP directory to you windows directory ( C:\Windows or C:\Winnt depends on where you installed Windows ) and rename the file to php.ini. This is the PHP configuration file and we'll take a look what's in it later on.Next, move the php4ts.dll file from the newly created php directory into the sapi subdirectory. Quoting from php installation file you can also place php4ts.dll in other places such as :
In the directory where apache.exe is start from ( C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2 \bin) In your %SYSTEMROOT%\System32, %SYSTEMROOT%\system and %SYSTEMROOT% directory.
Note: %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 only applies to Windows NT/2000/XP) In your whole %PATH%Apache doesn't know that you just install PHP. We need to tell Apache about PHP and where to find it. Open the Apache configuration file in C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\conf\httpd.conf and add the following three lines :
LoadModule php4_module php/sapi/php4apache2.dll AddType application/x-httpd-php .php AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps The first line tells Apache where to load the dll required to execute PHP and the second line means that every file that ends with .php should be processed as a PHP file. You can actually change it to anything you want like .html or even .asp! The third line is added so that you can view your php file source code in the browser window. You will see what this mean when you browse this tutorial and click the link to the example's source code like this one. Now restart Apache for the changes to take effect ( Start > Programs > Apache HTTP Server 2.0.50 > Control Apache Server > Restart ) . To check if everything is okay create a new file, name it as test.php and put it in document root directory ( C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\htdocs ). The content of this file is shown below.<?php
?>phpinfo() is the infamous PHP function which will spit out all kinds of stuff about PHP and your server configuration.