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The ABC’s of PHP: Introduction to PHP

By Peter Shaw
on February 26, 2009

“Hey ma…I’ve just heard that the latest and greatest thing is PHP, so I’m gonna go learn me some PHP and write a web-based game that will rock the world…”
We’ve all seen it on forum postings, heard it said in circles of developers, and probably the most often, from newcomers to the science (‘noobs’ as they are often called).
So, what exactly is PHP? Well for starters, if you’re looking to write a web-based game that will rock the world, PHP is not the language you need. If however you’re serious about writing top class web applications, or highly interactive web sites, then PHP may just be right up your alley.
In this 10 part series, I’m going to take you through the basics of PHP and hopefully give you a taste of what such a versatile language can do. I am not, however, going to preach that PHP is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’ll let you decide that for yourself!
PHP, like any good language, has its strengths and its weaknesses, and like any languages, there are some tasks that it’s just not suited for. I have as of yet found fairly few limitations, however, especially in the web environment.
Who am I?
It’s only fair that if you’re going to listen to me waffle on for the next 10 parts in this series, you know a little bit about who I am and what I do.
My Name is “Peter Shaw” or “Shawty” to those who know me, and for want of a better description, I’m a veteran back bedroom (or Old Skool) programmer, a definite child of the 80’s some might say.
Because of this I’ve grown up in today’s technological revolution, and fondly remember hordes of my school friends buying Sinclair ZX-Spectrums, and Commodore 64 home computers, and feverishly rushing home from school to play classic games such as “Chuckie Egg”, “Manic Miner” and “Jet Pack Willie”.
I myself was an Acorn person (apologies to most of you non-Brits reading this who may not know what an Acorn machine was) and spent countless hours learning to program BBC Basic and 6502 Machine code.
As technology progressed I worked my way up through the ranks, with my first introduction to Windows Programming around 1990 using “Windows 3.11 for Workgroups” and previous to that exploring the new up coming phenomenon known as “Linux”.
I’m not going to bore you any further with the grizzly details, but I first discovered and started to use PHP about version 3.0, and while I had been aware of it previous to that, I’d not given it any serious thought. That was beginning to change!