PHP (recursive acronym for "PHP: Hypertext
Preprocessor") is a widely-used Open Source general-purpose
scripting language that is especially suited for Web
development and can be embedded into HTML.
Simple answer, but what does that mean? An example:
Example 1-1. An introductory example
echo "Hi, I'm a PHP script!";
Notice how this is different from a script written in other
languages like Perl or C -- instead of writing a program with lots
of commands to output HTML, you write an HTML script with some
embedded code to do something (in this case, output some
text). The PHP code is enclosed in special start and end tags
that allow you to jump into and out of "PHP mode".
is that the code is executed on the server. If you were to have a
script similar to the above on your server, the client would receive
the results of running that script, with no way of determining what
the underlying code may be. You can even configure your web server
to process all your HTML files with PHP, and then there's really no
way that users can tell what you have up your sleeve.
The best things in using PHP are that it is extremely simple
for a newcomer, but offers many advanced features for
a professional programmer. Don't be afraid reading the long
list of PHP's features. You can jump in, in a short time, and
start writing simple scripts in a few hours.
Although PHP's development is focused on server-side scripting,
you can do much more with it. Read on, and see more in the
What can PHP do? section,
or go right to the introductory
tutorial if you are only interested in web programming.