What You Need To Start Programming In PHP

What You Need To Start Programming In PHP
You have heard about dynamic webpages and you are ready to try some on your own website. But how do you do this? There are several programming languages (or web scripting languages) that you can use to write your dynamic webpages and PHP is one of the best. It is very flexible and very easy to learn. This is why it has become one of the most popular programming languages for the web. So what will you need to start programming with PHP?

First, you will need the same tools that you use to write your regular/static html webpages.

  • Text editor -- You will need a text editor such as MicrosoftR Notepad or a word program such as MicrosoftR Word. Whatever program you choose to use, you must be able to save your files in plain text format.

  • Web browser -- You will need a web browser installed on your computer for testing your programs. The two most popular web browsers are the Internet Explorer and the NetscapeR browsers.

  • FTP program -- You will use this software to upload your programs to your website.

You will also need two more tools installed on your computer before you can start programming in PHP. These are a web server and a relational database.

  • Web server -- You won't need a web server as powerful as the web servers that your web hosting company uses. For testing your programs, you will only need a "PC sized" web server that you can run on your own computer. This small server will need to have a PHP interpreter installed. This interpreter works as a "dictionary" for the web server and without this interpreter the web server cannot "read" your PHP programs.

    Note: If you are planning to use your programs on your website, your web host's server must have a PHP interpreter also. But don't worry. PHP is very popular and is already installed on most commercial web servers. If your current web host does not offer PHP on their server, it is very easy to find another web host that does. Just go to a search engine such as Yahoo or Google and search for "PHP web hosts". You can also check out some web host directories to find a free or budget PHP web host.

  • Relational database -- The second thing you will need is a relational database. This is optional. You can learn to write PHP programs that don't require a database or you can use a flat file (text file) to store your database. But if you want to learn all the wonderful things that can be done with PHP, you will eventually decide to use a relational database. There are several relational databases available. One used quite often with PHP is MySQLTM. This is an open source (free) database which is easy to use.
Now you are probably asking yourself how you are going to get this stuff and how you will get it into your computer. Well don't panic. There's the hard way and the easy way. The hard way is to download a web server program, the PHP language and the MySQL software. Then you need to install and configure all three on your computer. That's the hard way.

The easy way if to use a program such as Sokkit. This little shareware program was a blessing for me when I found it. It will install a small PC sized Apache web server and the PHP language interpreter on your computer with a self-installing wizard. It also comes with optional MySQL software. (For WindowsR NT, 2000, and XP)

That's all, after you install these programs on your computer you are ready to write you first PHP program.


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