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The PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is a programming language that allows web developers to create dynamic content that interacts with databases. PHP is basically used for developing web based software applications. PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited to server-side web development, in which case PHP generally runs on a web server. Any PHPcode in a requested file is executed by the PHP runtime, usually to create dynamic web page content or dynamic images used on websites or elsewhere.

PHP started out as a small open source project that evolved as more and more people found out how useful it was. Rasmus Lerdorf unleashed the first version of PHP way back in 1994.

  • PHP is a recursive acronym for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor".
  • PHP is a server side scripting language that is embedded in HTML. It is used to manage dynamic content, databases, session tracking, even build entire e-commerce sites.
  • It is integrated with a number of popular databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, and Microsoft SQL Server.
  • PHP is pleasingly zippy in its execution, especially when compiled as an Apache module on the Unix side. The MySQL server, once started, executes even very complex queries with huge result sets in record-setting time.
  • PHP supports a large number of major protocols such as POP3, IMAP, and LDAP. PHP4 added support for Java and distributed object architectures (COM and CORBA), making n-tier development a possibility for the first time.
  • PHP is forgiving: PHP language tries to be as forgiving as possible.

PHP code is normally run in plain-text scripts that will only run on PHP-enabled computers (conversely programming languages can create standalone binary executable files, a.k.a. programs). PHP takes most of its syntax from C, Java, and Perl.

The acronym was formally changed to PHP: HyperText Preprocessor, at this time. (This is an example of a recursive acronym: where the acronym itself is in its own definition.) In 1998, PHP 3 was released, which was the first widely used version. PHP 4 was released in May 2000, with a new core, known as the Zend Engine 1.0. PHP 4 featured improved speed and reliability over PHP 3.

In terms of features, PHP 4 added references, the Boolean type, COM support on Windows, output buffering, many new array functions, expanded object-oriented programming, inclusion of the PCRE library, PHP also has the capability of being embedded directly into a web page or being used from the command line, making it a powerful tool that can handle anything from displaying information pulled from a database to performing system tasks in a scheduled manner.

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