PHP stands for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor” where “Preprocessor” means that changes happen before the HTML page is created. This converts static webpage to dynamic webpage with the capacity to interact with databases. The PHP programming language is commonly used for developing web-based software applications. However, use of the language is not limited to web development and it can also be used for developing GUI applications. As per netcraft.com in 2013, PHP found application in over 244 million websites.
History and Evolution of PHP
PHP was designed for web development, intended to fill the gap between Server Side Includes (SSI) and Perl. The language’s roots were laid in 1994 through the work of Rasmus Lerdorf who scripted a series of Common Gateway Interface (CGI) binaries in C to maintain his homepage. Gradually, he improved these to include the ability to interact with databases and web forms and named it PHP/FI meaning “Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter”. The first version of PHP/FI was released in 1995 with syntax, variables and form handling resembling Perl language. The second version PHP/FI 2 was released in 1997.
The team enlarged in 1997 to include Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans who re-scripted the parser to form the base of PHP3 and renamed it PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. The rewriting work continued further and in 1999, it led to the development of Zend Engine which served as an interpreter for PHP language.
Over the years, the updating of the language has continued and the latest version PHP 5.6.4 was released in December 2014.
Applications of PHP
- GUI -based applications
- Web pages and web-based applications
- Web Content Management Systems (CMS)
- eCommerce applications
- Image Processing and graphic design
- Data representation
Advantages of PHP Programming
- PHP is free of cost and has cross-platform capability working across Microsoft Windows, Macintosh and UNIX operating systems.
- PHP is open source, developed and maintained by a large community and has a good support base.
- PHP is a weakly-typed language and does not require explicit statements of intent which allows it be fast, flexible and pragmatic.
- PHP offers extensive Library support (like GD library, Ming) and extensions which provide additional functionality like graphic design and image processing. Further, PHP runs on almost any web server currently available.
- PHP has syntax similarities with C and Java and is easy to learn, use and implement.
- PHP supports a range of databases including MySQL, Oracle, and MS Access and is capable of interacting with many other services which use protocols such as IMAP, LDAP, POP3, NNTP, SNMP, HTTP, COM.
- PHP is a highly efficient web language as functions such as working with URLs and HTML are built in. It also offers an excellent means to access other web-based tools like Google Maps, etc.
Extremely useful for adding dynamic content to webpages, PHP has occupied a dominant position with regard to web content management system and web applications. PHP 5.6.0 offers new features such as: contact scalar expressions, variadic functions, function and constant importing, uploads of large file sizes and more.