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PHP Development

By: Beau Stafford

Multimedia Any web designer or developer will tell you that they have to know a slew of coding languages just to make ends meet. Different clients require different web sites which, in turn, require different sets of codes and standards.

A basic page will be run with HTML (hyper text markup language) and CSS (Cascading style sheets) only. A more advanced page will incorporate JavaScript, a client-side programming language allowing dynamic content. From there programs like flash are used to make websites.

Serving as the backbone to many sites are server-side based programming languages. These languages run directly off the web site’s host server and aren’t affected by a browser. The use of these languages allows for even more dynamic content on the page.

One such type of language is called PHP (hypertext preprocessor). Written on a web server, the PHP language is then incorporated into the HTML of a website and displayed as .php site. PHP code is entered as the language and various web pages are the output.

PHP is similar to other server-side scripting languages such as ASP.NET, mod_perl, and JavaServer pages,

When a webpage is loaded that has a backbone in PHP the PHP code will be compiled and then ran. This means there’s an extra step in loading the website as opposed to simply loading the HTML (the website loads the HTML, which loads the PHP, which then displays the site as opposed to HTML only). There are such things as accelerators which can improve performance but most programmers are efficient enough to code less lines which improves speed. The load time compilation won’t be noticeable by most people.

PHP isn’t the most secure of server-side programming languages. It’s security vulnerability has increased year to year, ending at 34% in 2008. Luckily there are various patches and methods of increasing security. For instance you could install PHP as a CGI binary and it will add security.

The coding is similar to the coding of languages such as C, C++, Java and Perl. It includes IF conditions, Function returns, as well as FOR and WHILE loops.

Originally released in 1995, PHP has been running strong ever since. It is constantly being updated and the current version, 5.2.8 was released in December of 2008. Early in 2009 the next version, 5.3.0 will be released and version 6.0.0 is slated to come out sometime after that, but doesn’t have a particular date set.

PHP is as easy to use as server-side programming languages can be. If you have a knowledge in C, C++, Java, or Perl then the transition will probably be seamless, otherwise it’ll take a bit of learning. But most languages have a learning curve that isn’t set very high, in programming especially. When the basics are covered: the variables and general syntax, then the rest of the language from loops, to functions, to IF conditions come more naturally.

PHP is a great resource for web design and development and shouldn’t be ignored over similar server-side programming languages.

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