Introducing PHP:

You’ve probably heard the word “PHP” thrown around a lot. Even if you haven’t, you’ve definitely used PHP (knowingly or not) while browsing the internet. PHP is used in many online applications – Facebook, Google and many other major websites use PHP. But what exactly is PHP in the first place?

PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor – the acronym is recursive. It can be defined as a web development language used to give function to a website. PHP is the mechanical gears behind many fancy website designs – without PHP, or any other similar web development language, the web would look nice but have no function. No email, no Facebook, no Google! Can you imagine?

PHP is also a server-side language. This is actually just a fancy way of saying something simple: Any PHP code is executed (run) on the website’s server rather than on the visitor’s computer. This brings one large benefit: there are very few prerequisites needed on a web-users part in order to use PHP. Things like Java and Flash are the opposite: a user must have something installed on their computer before being able to use the application. With PHP, however, a user just needs a web browser.

How to begin coding PHP:

Woah! Slow down there. Before you can start coding PHP, you need to find a way to execute (run) any PHP code on your personal computer. If you don’t do this, testing any PHP scripts you may write will be a tedious process: you would have to upload the script to your website, visit the path where you uploaded it, and repeat. By being able to run PHP code on your computer, you make life a lot easier for yourself.

It really is quite simple – you need a program that enables you to do this. Here are the two most popular ones (Both free!):

– WAMP (Windows Only):

– XAMPP (Both Windows, Mac and Linux):

More information can be found in the tutorial on running PHP on your computer.

Once you’ve got everything installed right, you’ll need to create a new project folder in the ‘www’ folder (for WAMP) or ‘htdocs’ folder (for XAMPP). This new folder will be where you all your PHP codes, and is also the folder you will need to navigate to, to view the scripts you write in your web browser. All of this may sound quite complex, but if you decide to learn how to program with PHP, this will all become very simple.

Since this article is just an introduction to PHP, you won’t actually learn any coding skills here. However, HowToCompute.org provides a great series of PHP coding tutorials. I hope you succeed in your endevours to learn PHP – it is a great web development language to master!

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