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Chapter 34. Using PHP > PHP: A New Server-Side Scripting Alternative

PHP: A New Server-Side Scripting Alternative

ColdFusion and Active Server Pages are widely used server-side scripting platforms that earned their popularity, in part, by being deployable on the Windows NT operating system. Indeed, ASP is a native Microsoft technology, so it should come as no surprise that ASP cultivated its following by tapping into the huge Windows NT user base. Allaire initially deployed ColdFusion in a Windows environment but later expanded its horizons to include the Solaris (from Sun Microsystems) and, most recently, the Linux operating systems.

Does this mean that during all that time, developers working with UNIX platforms only had Perl to work with? Definitely not. The open source community has been steadily providing us with high-quality software—the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server being two good examples—for years now. Apache's popularity has helped to boost the notoriety of a new server-side scripting paradigm called PHP. PHP is similar in concept to ColdFusion and ASP in that script instructions are embedded within an XHTML template. These instructions are parsed out and processed by a special program running on the Web server. The XHTML output from these instructions is incorporated back into the XHTML template, and the finished document is sent on to the browser. What is different about PHP is the specifics of the scripting language. However, if you have programming experience in a UNIX-shell scripting language, JavaScript, or C, you will probably find PHP easy to learn and enjoyable to use.


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