PHP3.0, one of the hottest scripting languages to be found on the Internet, lends a great many capabilities to the web programmer. Many of these tasks, accomplished with some degree of difficulty in many other languages, can be swiftly executed with but a few lines of PHP3.0 code . The fact that PHP3.0 code can be inserted directly alongside HTML makes the language all the more convenient.
Created by Rasmus Lerdorf in what began as a personal project (titled PHP/FI), the language quickly gained popularity and was almost completely rewritten by a group of six developers, and in turn, reborn as PHP3.0. The language enjoys an extremely active developing environment, due, in large part, to the fact that the language is freely available for download on the web.
Much of PHP3.0 is a combination of Perl, Java, and C concepts. The syntax structure borrows heavily from C, making it an easy language to learn for even the novice programmer. PHP3.0 performs sophisticated mathematical calculations, provides network information, offers mail and regular expression capabilities, and much more. PHP3.0's strongest feature is its database interfacing capability. Connecting a database to the Internet has never been so easy. What's more, it supports many of the most popular database servers on the market, including MySQL, Oracle, Sybase, mSQL, Generic ODBC, and PostgreSQL, to name a few. In fact, the possibilities left to the user as a result of this interface are so great, we will focus upon this subject in the second half of the article. In particular, we will discuss its interfacing capabilities with MySQL, perhaps the most powerful database server found on the market today.
One of the factors that make PHP3.0 so powerful is that is a goal-oriented language. It is written to accomplish things, quickly and cleanly. Before you read on, however, make sure to take note of the following important points:
PHP3.0 is what is known as a server-side scripting language. Thus the language interpreter must be installed and configured on the server before one can execute commands. Contact your ISP for more information, or if you are the server administrator, go to http://www.php.net to download the product.
As stated earlier, PHP3.0 is a complete rewrite of the previous version, titled PHP/FI or PHP2.0. Be sure to ask your ISP which version is installed; if it happens to be the old version, ask if they could upgrade. In short, PHP3.0 is better. It is much faster and more capable than its predecessor. In addition, all syntax within this article will be written using PHP3.0 syntax.
Once installed and configured, it is wise to obtain a copy of the PHP3.0 documentation. This documentation highlights all of the available commands and syntax structures, and will serve as an irreplaceable guide to learning the language.