16 Jun 2006 @ 01:11PM

Updated: 27 Jan 2010 @ 01:47PM
PHP is an abbreviation for Pre Hypertext Processor and is basically a web-based programming language. Through the use of PHP, it's possible to create robust, web-based applications, interface with files and databases, generate XML content, and much, much more. PHP is a full programming language and as such will take a long time to learn and master. However, even with only minimal knowledge, you can use PHP to greatly increase the power and flexibilty of your website.

Please note that in order to use PHP on your website, you will need to have a host that supports PHP. However, I would never recommend you learn PHP on a live web host. It's much safer and quicker to actually install a development environment on your computer and do all your development there. Once you've gotten you application fleshed out and (relatively) bug free, you can then upload it to your host. Additionally, even if you don't have a website, or your host doesn't support PHP, you can still learn the langauge and get/migrate to a host that supports PHP.

Installing a local development environment for PHP consists of several parts. In this case, I'll be focusing on a WAMP installation, which stands for Windows Apache MySQL PHP. We'll be using Windows (specifically Windows XP), Apache as our web server, MySQL as a database server, with PHP as the programming language. LAMP is also a popular installation platform (Linux instead of Windows). In fact, with LAMP all the software is free. However, though I like Linux, my desktop O/S of choice is still Windows, so we're going that route.

There are some WAMP installations available on the internet as packages. These are Windows installers that will install all the components for you, including administration suites, in one easy go. This is really quick and easy, but I think you learn alot more by doing it yourself. This process may not be as easy as many of us would like, but that's why I'm making a tutorial on it. If you want to just download prebuilt WAMP installers, check below:

WAMP Installer Downloads
XAMPPXAMPP is from and includes Apache, MySQL, PHP and Perl, as well as a host of support applications. Installers are available for Windows, Linux, MacOS and even Solaris.
WAMPWAMP installs Apache, MySQL, and PHP, as well as several support applications.
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