PHP – Personal Home Page to Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP – The P in the LAMP stack
(Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP or Python/Perl) an open-source solution for web development.

What is PHP?
PHP is a server-based scripting language which can be embedded into an HTML document to interface with databases, manage form information and create dynamic web pages on the fly. It can be employed on many operating systems and platforms and can be used with over 25 database products including MySQL and Oracle.

Designed by Rasmus Lerdorf using a combination of Perl and CGI scripts to maintain his personal homepage in 1995, PHP initially stood for “Personal Home Page Tools” and enabled simple tasks such as logging visitor information and displaying the count of visitors on a web page. He used it to see how many people were viewing his resume.

Lerdorf gave the script away for free and its popularity encouraged him to continue development. Using C code rather than Perl, in 1997 Lerdorf released PHP-FI (Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter) also known as PHP2 which included the ability to integrate web forms with databases. More than 50,000 developers were using PHP to improve their web pages when version PHP 3 was released in June 1998. It was renamed “Hypertext PreProcessor”. PHP 3 was built by a team of developers who rewrote the parsing engine.

By February 1999 there were 1,000,000 users making it one of the most popular scripting languages in the world. Since users intended to power far larger applications than what was originally intended, the developers had to rethink the way PHP operated. The result was PHP 4 which introduced the Zend scripting engine, object-oriented support, native-session handling support, encryption, ISAPI support, native COM/DCOM support, native Java support, a Perl Compatible library and hundreds of other features.

By May22, 2000 PHP4 was installed on 3.6 million domains. Today, PHP5 is currently in use by over 20 million users.

Why is PHP so popular? First, it’s open-source and free. There are no licensing restrictions to contend with. Second, it is constantly being improved through crown-sourcing which helps minimize bugs and improves security. Finally, the script language is intuitive and predictive making it easy to learn – especially if a developer is familiar with C.

Powerful, fast and free is hard to beat.

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