Now more than ever, the Web is a major vehicle for corporate and personal communications. Websites carry satellite images of Earth in its entirety, search for life in outer space, and house personal photo albums, business shopping carts, and product lists. Many of those websites are driven by PHP, an open source scripting language primarily designed for generating HTML content.
Since its inception in 1994, PHP has swept the Web and continues its phenomenal growth with recent endorsements by IBM and Oracle (to name a few). The millions of websites powered by PHP are testament to its popularity and ease of use. Everyday people can learn PHP and build powerful dynamic websites with it. Marc Andreessen, partner in Andreessen Horowitz and founder of Netscape Communications, recently described PHP as having replaced Java as the ideal programming language for the Web.
The core PHP language (version 5+) features powerful string- and array-handling facilities, as well as greatly improved support for object-oriented programming. With the use of standard and optional extension modules, a PHP application can interact with a database such as MySQL or Oracle, draw graphs, create PDF files, and parse XML files. You can write your own PHP extension modules in C—for example, to provide a PHP interface to the functions in an existing code library. You can even run PHP on Windows, which lets you control other Windows applications, such as Word and Excel with COM, or interact with databases using ODBC.
This book is a guide to the PHP language. When you finish it, you will know how the PHP language works, how to use the many powerful extensions that come standard with PHP, and how to design and build your own PHP web applications.