One of the most compelling things PHP has going for it is it support for a wide variety of databases. And this week, PHP 101 is going to take advantage of that database support to create dynamic data-driven Web sites. This primer covers different techniques to select, insert and delete records, together with some tips to track and squash bugs when building SQL-driven sites.
One of the most important factors driving PHP's popularity over the last couple of years has been its support for a variety of databases, including mySQL, mSQL, Oracle and Microsoft Access. By simplifying and streamlining database access, PHP allows developers to build complex data-driven Web applications while enjoying short development cycles because of the simplicity and flexibility of the language.
One of the most powerful combinations in the open source arena is the PHP/mySQL combination. For those of you new to open-source technology - where have you been, you galoots?! - mySQL is a fast, reliable, open-source database management system. By using PHP and mySQL, developers can provide customers with huge savings on the licensing costs of other commercially-licensed software, and also benefit from the tremendous amount of thought that PHP and mySQL developers have put into making sure that the two packages work together seamlessly and smoothly.
OK. Enough of the marketing talk. Let's get down to business.
In this issue of PHP 101, we're going to show you how to use PHP to extract data from a database, and use that data to build a dynamic Web page. All you need are the usual pre-requisites: a sense of humour, and a willingness to try something new. Some knowledge of SQL (Structured Query Language, the language used to interact with a database server) would be helpful, though not essential.
If you're planning on trying out some of the examples below, you'll also need to download and install the mySQL database server, available at http://www.mysql.com. We'll be assuming that you've installed and configured mySQL, and have the appropriate permissions to create and edit database tables.
If you're using a database other than mySQL, fear not - PHP supports all major databases, and you can use the techniques described over the next few pages to talk to other databases too. Your PHP manual will help you locate corresponding functions for other databases.