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PHP 101 (part 1): Down The Rabbit Hole
Get started with PHP, the hottest new scripting language on the block.

| Start Me Up |

There's one essential concept that you need to get your mind around before we proceed further. Unlike CGI scripts, which require you to write code to output HTML, PHP lets you embed PHP code in regular HTML pages, and execute the embedded PHP code when the page is requested.

These embedded PHP commands are enclosed within special start and end tags, like this:


<?php

... PHP code ...

?>


Here's a simple example that demonstrates how PHP and HTML can be combined:


<html>
<head></head>
<body>

Agent: So who do you think you are, anyhow?
<br />

<?php
// print output
echo 'Neo: I am Neo, but my people call me The One.';
?>

</body>
</html>


Not quite your traditional "Hello, World" program... but then again, I always thought tradition was over-rated.

Save the above script to a location under your Web server document root, with a .php extension, and browse to it. You'll see something like this:

Output image

Look at the HTML source:


<html>
<head></head>
<body>

Agent: So who do you think you are, anyhow?
<br />
Neo: I am Neo, but my people call me The One.
</body>
</html>


What just happened? When you requested the script above, Apache intercepted your request and handed it off to PHP. PHP then parsed the script, executing the code between the <?php...?> marks and replacing it with the output of the code run. The result was then handed back to the server and transmitted to the client. Since the output contained valid HTML, the browser was able to render it for display to the user.

A close look at the script will reveal the basic syntactical rules of PHP. Every PHP statement ends in a semi-colon. This convention is identical to that used in Perl, and omitting the semi-colon is one of the most common mistakes newbies make. That said, it is interesting to note that a semi-colon is not needed to terminate the last line of a PHP block. The PHP closing tag includes a semi-colon, therefore the following is perfectly valid PHP code:


<?php

// print output
echo 'Neo: I am Neo, but my people call me The One.'

?>


It's also possible to add comments to your PHP code, as I've done in the example above. PHP supports both single-line and multi-line comment blocks:


<?php

// this is a single-line comment

/* and this is a
multi-line
comment */

?>


Blank lines within the PHP tags are ignored by the parser. Everything outside the tags is also ignored by the parser, and returned as-is. Only the code between the tags is read and executed.


How to do Everything with PHP & MySQL
How to do Everything with PHP & MySQL, the best-selling book by Melonfire, explains how to take full advantage of PHP's built-in support for MySQL and link the results of database queries to Web pages. You'll get full details on PHP programming and MySQL database development, and then you'll learn to use these two cutting-edge technologies together. Easy-to-follow sample applications include a PHP online shopping cart, a MySQL order tracking system, and a PHP/MySQL news publishing system.

Read more, or grab your copy now!


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