PHP for the World Wide Web (Visual QuickStart Guide Series) / Edition 2

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So you know HTML, even JavaScript, but the idea of learning an actual programming language like PHP terrifies you? Well, stop quaking and get going with this easy task-based guide! Aimed at beginning PHP developers just like yourself, this volume uses step-by-step instructions and plenty of visual aids to get you started testing scripts, using basic syntax, working with variables, creating Web applications, and everything else you need to know to create dynamic Web pages with this increasingly popular and important scripting language. Along the way, you'll learn about all that's new in version 5: the new Zend Engine, updated XML support, greatly improved streams (now able to access low-level socket operations), a bundled copy of SQLite, and more. Throughout the book, you'll find sample scripts and projects as well as the timesaving tips and techniques that have become the hallmark of the popular Visual QuickStart series. A companion Web site offers all of the book's scripts for download.

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Editorial Reviews

Designed for developers, this guide and reference covers the key concepts of PHP and explains the features of PHP version 4.04. Beginning with a basic overview, it moves on to cover syntax, testing scripts, working with variables, and creating Web applications. Along the way, sample scripts and projects illustrate major points. Ullman is a PHP programmer and Web designer. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321245656
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press
  • Publication date: 1/23/2004
  • Series: Visual QuickStart Guide Series
  • Edition description: Covers Versions 4 and 5
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 7.06 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Tarin Towers has contributed as a writer and technical editor to more than a dozen books about computers and the Internet. As an editorial consultant, she has worked with such companies as Netscape Communications, Microsoft, Informix Software, and Infoseek. Her Web site resides at

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Read an Excerpt

1: Getting Started with PHP

Learning any new programming language should always begin with an understanding of the syntax you will use, and that's what we'll explore in this chapter. I will primarily cover the fundamentals, but will also include some recommendations that will improve your work in the long run. Failure to follow the rules of syntax is an all-too-common cause of errors in your code.

By the end of this chapter you will have successfully written and executed your first PHP scripts.

Basic Syntax

In order to create your first PHP page, you will start off exactly as you wo uld if you were creating an HTML document from scratch.

There are two main differences between a standard HTML document and a PHP document. First, PHP scripts should be saved with the .php extension (e.g., index. php). Second, you wrap your PHP code with the <?PHP and ?> tags to indicate what is PHP as opposed to what is HTML.

To create a new PH P script on your computer:

1. Open a text editor such as SimpleText, WordPad, or whichever application you prefer. 2. Choose File > New to create a new, blank document.

3. Type <HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>First PHP Script</TITLE> </HEAD> <BODY> (Script 1.1). You can put each element or element group on its own line to make it neater.

4. Type <?PHP on its own line.

5. Press Return to create a new line and then type ?>.

6. Type </BODY,</HTML>.

7. Choose File > Save As. In the dialog box that appears, choose Text Only (or ASCII) for the format.

8. Choose the location where you wish to save the script.

9. Save the script as first. php.

Check with your ISP to learn which file extensions you can use for PHP documents. For this book you will use .php, although you may be able to use .phtml instead. Servers still running PHP version 3 commonly use .php3 as the default extension. A file extension tells the server how to treat the file: file.php will go through the PHP module, file.asp is processed as ASP, and file.htmi is a static HTML document.

You can also check with your ISP to se if short tags (using <? and ?> instead of <?PHP and ?>) or ASP tags (<% and %>) are acceptable. Programs like Macromedia Dreamweaver can work better with PHP pages if you use ASP tags.

Sending Data to the Browser

Now that you have created your first PHP script, it's time to make it actually do something. As discussed in the introduction, PHP tells the server what data to send to your Web browser. For starters, you will use the phpinfo()function to create our data. This function, when called, will send a table of information to the Web browser itemizing the specifics of the PHP installation on that particular server.

To add the phpinfo() function to your script:

1. Open your first. .php script in your text editor, if it isn't already.

2. Put your cursor between the PHP tags (<?PHP and ?>) and create a new line by pressing Return). 3. On the new line, type phpinfo();.

4. Change the title of the page by replacing First with Test in line 3 of the HTML (Script 1.2).

5. Save your script as test. php.

Everv statement within PHP code must end with a semicolon (;). Forgetting to do so is a common cause of errors. You can put multiple statements on one line, with each separated by its own semicolon. For the sake of clarity, however, I would not recommend it.

A statement in PHP is an executable line of code, like print) or phpinfo(). The semicolon concluding these lines are the equivalent of telling PHP to go ahead and execute the command. Conversely; comment lines, the PHP tags, control structures (conditionals, loops, etc.), and certain other constructs I'll discuss in this book do not merit a semicolon. Each of these aspects of PHP do not do anything in and of themselves so much as dictate the circumstances for the statements to follow. That is to say: the PHP tag only indicates that PHP code is to follow; comment characters render text moot, and so forth. Thus, in general, a semicolon concludes a specific action, while no semicolon is required for constructs that create conditions.

For better or worse, PHP is rather liberal when it comes to case sensitivity of built-in functions like PHPINFO(). PHPinfo() and PHPINFO() will net the same results. Later in the book (for example, Chapter 2; Variables) you will see examples of instances where the word case will make a crucial difference. HTML, in contrast, is entirely case insensitive.

Phpinfo() is an example of a built-in function which comes standard in PHP To learn more about functions and how to create your own, see Chapter 9, Creating Functions.

You will find it handy to have a copy of the test. php file around. You can use this to check the PHP capabilities of a new server or see what features are supported, such as databases, GIF building, etc. You can also use this file to experiment with different extensions and learn which ones the server will process correctly and which it will not.

Testing Your Script

Unlike HTML, which can be tested on your own computer using a Web browser, in order to see what the output of your PHP script will look like, it needs to be saved to a PHP-enabled server. If you are working directly on a server, the script is already there once you've saved it. If you are creating your script using a text editor on your home computer, you will need to use FTP (file transfer protocol) to place it on the server. Your ISP or Web host should provide you with FTP access. You will also need an FTP application such as Fetch (for the Macintosh) or WS FTP (for Windows).

To FTP your script to the server:

1. Open your FTP application.

2. Connect to the server, using the address, username, and password provided to you by your ISP or Web host (Figure 1.1).

3. Find the proper directory for your HTML pages (e.g., www/ or htdocs/).

4. Save your script (test. php) to the server. (As a rule, most FTP applications save transferred pages to the server with the same filename you are using for those files on your computer. If your particular FTP program gives you the option to specify the filename, use test. php....)

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Table of Contents


1. Getting Started with PHP.

2. Variables.

3. HTML Forms and PHP.

4. Using Numbers.

5. Using Strings.

6. Control Structures.

7. Using Arrays.

8. Creating Web Applications.

9. Cookies and Sessions.

10. Creating Functions.

11. Files and Directories.

12. Intro to Databases.

13. Regular Expressions.

Appendix A. Installation and Configuration.

Appendix B. Resources.


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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    WOnderful Book

    I have just begun a PHP class and this book has everything in it required for the class and then some. It not only explains the language, but also shows how it s to look in the code, and why it is there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2006

    Excellent Book, Very Helpful.

    Very straight forward book, and reads at your own pace. This book, and 'PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites (2nd Edition) are excellent for the beginner, novice, and even the advanced. The companion web site is also very helpful, and the Author has an included support forum where he will personally answer your php/mysql questions online.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2004

    Clean & To-The-Point

    I found this book very clean, cut, and to-the-point. It was very descriptive and great for beginners, but in some cases, not for novices. I recommend it for aspiring PHP writers. It brings you from beginner to about advanced level, which will fit your needs in most cases.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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