php – known as Personal home Page earlier and at present Hypertext Preprocessor is a web development language which can be easily embedded in HTML to create web pages. Php is used mainly on server side scripting, hence things like collecting form data, generating dynamic page contents , sending and receiving cookies and many other things can be done with php. Php can be used in all major operating systems including many variants of Unix, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, RISC OS and LINUX. PHP also supports most web servers including Apache and IIS. It also supports web servers which can utilize the Fast CGI PHP binary. PHP works either as a CGI processor or a module. With PHP one has the freedom of choosing a web server and an operating system. With PHP one can either procedural programming or object oriented programming (OOP) or even a mixture of both.

A feature which is PHP’s strength is its ability to support a wide range of databases. With the help of one of the database specific extensions of PHP writing a database-enables web page is extremely simple. PHP does not limit anyone to output HTML. The abilities of PHP include output of PDF files, images and even flash movies. Any text such as XHTML and any other XML file can also be easily outputted. PHP auto generates the files and saves them in the file system thus forming a server-side cache for all dynamic contents.

Areas where PHP scripts are used:

  • Server- side scripting: this is the main target for PHP. Three things are required to make this work.
  1. The PHP parser (CGI or server module)
  2. A web server
  3. A web browser

The web server needs to be run with a connected PHP installation. The PHP programme output can be accessed with a web browser, the PHP page is viewed through the server. All these can be done o a home machine if the user is just experimenting with PHP.

  • Command line scripting: A PHP script can be made to run without any server or browser. Only the PHP praser is required to use it this way. Scripts which are regularly executed using CRON or Task Scheduler are ideal for this type of usage.
  • Writing desktop applications: For desktop applications with graphical user interface PHP is maybe not the very best of the languages but, some advanced PHP features like PHP-GTK can be used to write these applications. Using these method cross-platform applications can also be written.

Other services which use protocols such as LDAP, IMAP, SNMP, NNTP, POP3, HTTP, COM etc can also be accessed with PHP’s support. PHP has useful text processing features. WDDX complex data exchange between all web programming languages is also supported by PHP. PHP has support for Java objects using them as PHP objects