Introduction to PHP

PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a web programming language and is used to write many popular web applications e.g. Joomla, WordPress. This article provides a brief introduction to this programming language.

There are many web programming languages in the market e.g. ASP.NET, PHP, Java Servlet, JSP, Ruby on Rails. Compared with the other languages, PHP is relatively easy to learn, write and install on across a number of operating systems e.g. Windows, Linux. It allows very simple scripts to be written. On the other hand, it supports more powerful sophisticated programming features such as object-oriented programming at the same time.

If you are a beginner in web development, you must first understand HTML and CSS before you learn PHP. PHP uses simple PHP tags to add programming functionalities in HTML code e.g.

<?php echo “Hello World” ?> will print the words “Hello World” in the HTML code. It can then be displayed in the web page.

The basic syntax i.e. the grammar of programming of PHP is easy to master as well. It supports the traditional “If … else …”, “switch”, “while”, “for”, “foreach” control structures and also object-oriented programming syntax. It is easy for people with programming experience to learn and master. The PHP Manual at PHP.net website provides a great resource of learning PHP.

As mentioned above, PHP is used to write many popular web applications e.g. Joomla content management system and WordPress blog system. Together with the advantage of easy learning and writing, it is recommended for beginners in web programming to use the PHP language. PHP is well supported by web hosting companies so it is easy to practice. It is key to note that PHP4 is no longer supported by the PHP development team. It is a security risk as any flaws discovered will not be patched. Therefore, when choosing web hosting company, those which still support PHP4 should be avoided.

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