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PHP Introduction

What is PHP

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PHP (recursive acronym for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor") is a widely-used Open Source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded into HTML. PHP is mainly focused on server-side scripting, so you can do anything any other CGI program can do, such as collect form data, generate dynamic page content, or send and receive cookies. But PHP can do much more. PHP can be used on all major operating systems, including Linux, many Unix variants (including HP-UX, Solaris and OpenBSD), Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, RISC OS, and probably others. PHP has also support for most of the web servers today. This includes Apache, Microsoft Internet Information Server, Personal Web Server, Netscape and iPlanet servers, Oreilly Website Pro server, Caudium, Xitami, OmniHTTPd, and many others. For the majority of the servers PHP has a module, for the others supporting the CGI standard, PHP can work as a CGI processor.

So with PHP, you have the freedom of choosing an operating system and a web server. Furthermore, you also have the choice of using procedural programming or object oriented programming, or a mixture of them. Although not every standard OOP feature is implemented in PHP 4, many code libraries and large applications (including the PEAR library) are written only using OOP code. PHP 5 fixes the OOP related weaknesses of PHP 4, and introduces a complete object model. With PHP you are not limited to output HTML. PHP's abilities includes outputting images, PDF files and even Flash movies (using libswf and Ming) generated on the fly. You can also output easily any text, such as XHTML and any other XML file. PHP can autogenerate these files, and save them in the file system, instead of printing it out, forming a server-side cache for your dynamic content.

One of the strongest and most significant features in PHP is its support for a wide range of databases. Writing a database-enabled web page is incredibly simple. The following databases are currently supported:

Adabas D InterBase PostgreSQL


FrontBase SQLite


mSQL Solid

FilePro (read-only)

Direct MS-SQL Sybase


MySQL Velocis


ODBC Unix dbm


Oracle (OCI7 and OCI8)  



PHP has extremely useful text processing features, from the POSIX Extended or Perl regular expressions to parsing XML documents. For parsing and accessing XML documents, PHP 4 supports the SAX and DOM standards, and you can also use the XSLT extension to transform XML documents. PHP 5 standardizes all the XML extensions on the solid base of libxml2 and extends the feature set adding SimpleXML and XMLReader support.

While using PHP in the e-commerce field, you'll find the Cybercash payment, CyberMUT, VeriSign Payflow Pro and MCVE functions useful for your online payment programs.
At last but not least, we have many other interesting extensions, the mnoGoSearch search engine functions, the IRC Gateway functions, many compression utilities (gzip, bz2), calendar conversion, translation...

The best things in using PHP are that it is extremely simple for a newcomer, but offers many advanced features for a professional programmer. Don't be afraid reading the long list of PHP's features. You can jump in, in a short time, and start writing simple scripts in a few hours.

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PHP Tutorials

Dynamic Dropdown Menu
Put records from your database in a dropdown menu/list box. You can apply it as a navigator list box. Good for saving your webpage areas or you have many links you don't want to show all of them in your pages.
Export MySQL to CSV (Excel)
You can export your MySQL database to .csv file format (Microsoft Excel file) easily.