Articles for Webmasters     Meet PHP: The Web Programming Language

Many people may have heard of PHP, but not as many will actually know what it is and what it's capable of. PHP is a wonderful language that is being used more and more each day, but you'll most likely see it on a website. PHP, which stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor was created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994 who called it Personal Home Page (PHP) Tools and was originally written in Perl. It has since taken on a life of it's own headed by Zend Technologies who re-wrote it in C and now renamed it's popular definition to the one it is currently.

The PHP language is very fast to work with and ultra responsive. This allows it to be used in creating many full features and very powerful web-based applications, from forums, webmail software to complete web page management tools. The command line interpreter has also allowed users to create standalone applications with and it is very capable of creating GUI applications for any common purpose.

PHP is also familiar. If you have programmed in C, C++, Perl or Java before, then you will pick up PHP in very little time. That's because its syntax is very similar. So similar in fact, that you can actually use several C functions in PHP, such as "for", "print" and others. The author has also converted existing simple C programs into their web-based equivalent using PHP in just a few minutes. PHP now supports objects, for those of you who are concerned about Object Oriented Programming.

Last but not least, PHP is fun. It's fun because it works very well and allows rapid application development and deployment. Seriously. You can have any web-based application prototyped and running within hours, which is precisely what many programmers who use PHP depend on in their day to day jobs.

Support is always a problem. What about support? How can I know I'll be able to use it? Well, nearly all web hosting providers who lease access to their Unix/Linux servers will have PHP installed and enabled, and it's very easy to enable PHP support in Apache on Microsoft's Windows server operating system. See the PHP website for instructions on IIS. However, if you don't plan to run your own servers but will purchase an account from a web hosting provider, you can be sure that whoever you choose, they will more than likely have PHP installed or have a plan to do so very soon.

That is PHP, the web programming language. Once you pull away the hype and excitement, you'll find that it's a very capable language and one worth talking about. All my web-based software development used to use HTML, JavaScript and Perl. Now I use PHP most of the time and it truly delivers. I hope you will soon experience the simplicity and power of PHP for yourself. You may very well switch your entire web development and programming methods over to it.

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