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PHP 101 (part 9): SQLite My Fire!
Get to grips with SQLite, the new database in PHP 5.x.

| Making New Friends |

Before getting into the code, let's make sure that you have a clear idea of what SQLite is (and isn't). Unlike MySQL, which operates on a client-server paradigm, SQLite is a file-based database engine and uses file I/O (input/output) functions to store and read databases from files on disk. It's also much, much smaller than MySQL - the command-line version of SQLite weighs in at under 200 KB - and supports most of the SQL commands you're used to.

This small size shouldn't deceive you, however - according to the official SQLite Web site, SQLite supports databases up to 2 terabytes in size and is actually faster than MySQL in certain situations. SQLite database files are easily portable, and SQLite databases created on Windows work fine on *NIX platforms and vice-versa.

One of SQLite's more interesting aspects is that it is completely typeless. Fields in an SQLite database need not be associated with a specific type, and even if they are, you can still insert values of different types into them (there is one exception to this rule, but I'll get to that later). This is important, because it means that if you're concerned about values of the wrong type getting into your tables, you need to write code to implement type checking in your application.

Another important difference between MySQL and SQLite lies in their licensing policies: unlike MySQL, SQLite source code is completely public-domain, which means that you can use and distribute it however you choose in both commercial and non-commercial products. Take a look at http://sqlite.org/copyright.html for more on this.

In order to use SQLite and PHP together, your PHP build must include SQLite. This is enabled by default in both the UNIX and Windows versions of PHP 5.x. Read more about this at http://www.php.net/manual/en/ref.sqlite.php. If you're a PHP 4.x user, though, don't lose heart - you can still use SQLite, by manually downloading and installing php_sqlite.dll from http://snaps.php.net (Windows) or the latest tarball from http://pecl.php.net/package/SQLite (UNIX). You don't need to download anything else; the SQLite "client" is its own engine.

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