PHP in web hosting is a server-side computer language used to configure the display and functionality of web pages. The term “PHP” is an acronym for the term “PHP Hypertext Preprocessor.” The PHP language is open source and free to use, unlike proprietary web programming languages, such as ASP and C#. Proprietary languages must be interpreted by licensed server software, such as Windows Server, whereas PHP runs on open source servers, such as Apache. However, PHP can also run on proprietary web servers as well. PHP code pages can be identified by the “.php” file extension, according to PHP.net.
Many of the open source web applications, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are written in the PHP language. Additionally, open source ecommerce packages like OSCommerce and Zen Cart are written with PHP code. In short, the majority of web pages on the Internet are most likely programmed using PHP.
PHP vs. HTML
With server-side scripting langugages like PHP, the source code is processed on the server. This means that the code is not exposed to the end user like with HTML and other web programming languages. However, PHP code pages may include segments of HTML, CSS or other compatible languages. HTML pages can also include snippets of PHP to provide server-side functionality that HTML code cannot accomplish, such as querying or saving records to a database.
What Can PHP Do?
PHP code can authenticate users and track their history on a website. PHP can also perform complex calculations. The language can interpret what type of device on which the page is displayed, and then display a version of the page that best fits the device screen. PHP code pages can send and recieve cookies. Forums, blogs and other interactive web pages that thread conversations between users can be programmed with the PHP language. XML pages can also be served using PHP. The language also enables the programmer to alter the appearance of graphics on the fly. Programmers can resize, rotate and even alter the color of graphics using PHP coding, such as those displayed on CAPTCHA verifications. Create an entire interactive, fully functional website exclusively with PHP code.
PHP pairs nicely with MySQL, an open source database package that is popular and available for free with most Linux-based web hosting plans. You can even store the PHP code of a website in a database, and then retrieve the code as requested by end users. This is known as serving dynamic page content. WordPress and other popular web applications written in PHP operate using the dynamic page content model.
Though most PHP programmers will us MySQL because it is an open source database, PHP is compatible with a wide range of databases, including Oracle and Microsoft Access and SQL Server.
PHP.net is the support center and knowledge base for PHP coders. Whether you are learning PHP as a beginner, or you need to quickly find a reference for a particular function, PHP.net is the go-to source.
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To use PHP in web hosting environments, the PHP interpreter must be installed on the web server. Download the PHP interpreter from the downloads section of PHP.net.