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Chapter 10. Databases > Understanding PHP

Understanding PHP

“PHP” stands for “PHP: hypertext preprocessor.” When a user’s browser requests a Web page, it contacts the Web server, which then gets the requested page and sends it to the user’s browser. PHP acts as a layer between the Web server and the actual file on the disk (hence, preprocessor). When a user’s browser requests a PHP Web page, it contacts the Web server. The Web server contacts the PHP engine. The PHP engine reads the file from disk and scans it for PHP-specific code. It processes any code it finds, and then returns the resulting data stream to the Web server, which sends it to the user’s browser. Simply renaming an .html file to .php causes this process to start.

PHP is an open-source Web-server programming language. Like MySQL, PHP is widely available on many platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. PHP also has built-in ability to connect and access data on MySQL databases. You can readily find cheap PHP Web hosts as well, which keeps your overall costs down when creating a data-driven Web site. I have chosen to use PHP for these reasons. If you prefer, you can use a number of other technologies to get the same results we’ll achieve in the next few sections, including the top commercial players: Sun J2EE and Microsoft .NET.


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