PHP Application

PHP is a server-side scripting language designed for web development but also used as a general-purpose programming language. Originally created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, the PHP reference implementation is now produced by The PHP Group. PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page, but it now stands for the recursive acronym PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

PHP code may be embedded into HTML code, or it can be used in combination with various web template systems, web content management systems and web frameworks. PHP code is usually processed by a PHP interpreter implemented as a module in the web server or as a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) executable. The web server combines the results of the interpreted and executed PHP code, which may be any type of data, including images, with the generated web page. PHP code may also be executed with a command-line interface (CLI) and can be used to implement standalone graphical applications.

The standard PHP interpreter, powered by the Zend Engine, is free software released under the PHP License. PHP has been widely ported and can be deployed on most web servers on almost every operating system and platform, free of charge.

The PHP language evolved without a written formal specification or standard until 2014, leaving the canonical PHP interpreter as a de facto standard. Since 2014 work has gone on to create a formal PHP specification.

During the 2010s there have been increased efforts towards standardisation and code sharing in PHP applications by projects such as PHP-FIG in the form of PSR-initiatives as well as Composer dependency manager and the Packagist repository

PHP development began in 1995 when Rasmus Lerdorf wrote several Common Gateway Interface (CGI) programs in C, which he used to maintain his personal homepage. He extended them to work with web forms and to communicate with databases, and called this implementation "Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter" or PHP/FI.PHP/FI could help to build simple, dynamic web applications. To accelerate bug reporting and to improve the code, Lerdorf initially announced the release of PHP/FI as "Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools) version 1.0" on the Usenet discussion group comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi on June 8, 1995. This release already had the basic functionality that PHP has as of 2013. This included Perl-like variables, form handling, and the ability to embed HTML. The syntax resembled that of Perl but was simpler, more limited and less consistent.

The PHP interpreter only executes PHP code within its delimiters. Anything outside its delimiters is not processed by PHP, although non-PHP text is still subject to control structures described in PHP code. The most common delimiters are to close PHP sections. The shortened form also exists. This short delimiter makes script files less portable, since support for them can be disabled in the local PHP configuration and it is therefore discouraged. However, there is no recommendation against the use of the echo short tag Prior to PHP 5.4.0, this short syntax for echo() only works with the short_open_tag configuration setting enabled, while for PHP 5.4.0 and later it is always available. The purpose of all these delimiters is to separate PHP code from non-PHP content, such as JavaScript code or HTML markup.The first form of delimiters, , in XHTML and other XML documents, creates correctly formed XML processing instructions. This means that the resulting mixture of PHP code and other markup in the server-side file is itself well-formed XML.

Object-oriented programming

Basic object-oriented programming functionality was added in PHP 3 and improved in PHP 4. This allowed for PHP to gain further abstraction, making creative tasks easier for programmers using the language. Object handling was completely rewritten for PHP 5, expanding the feature set and enhancing performance. In previous versions of PHP, objects were handled like value types. The drawback of this method was that code had to make heavy use of PHP's "reference" variables if it wanted to modify an object it was passed rather than creating a copy of it. In the new approach, objects are referenced by handle, and not by value.PHP 5 introduced private and protected member variables and methods, along with abstract classes, final classes, abstract methods, and final methods. It also introduced a standard way of declaring constructors and destructors, similar to that of other object-oriented languages such as C++, and a standard exception handling model. Furthermore, PHP 5 added interfaces and allowed for multiple interfaces to be implemented. There are special interfaces that allow objects to interact with the runtime system. Objects implementing ArrayAccess can be used with array syntax and objects implementing Iterator or IteratorAggregate can be used with the foreach language construct. There is no virtual table feature in the engine, so static variables are bound with a name instead of a reference at compile time.

There are two primary ways for adding support for PHP to a web server – as a native web server module, or as a CGI executable. PHP has a direct module interface called Server Application Programming Interface (SAPI), which is supported by many web servers including Apache HTTP Server, Microsoft IIS, Netscape (now defunct) and iPlanet. Some other web servers, such as OmniHTTPd, support the Internet Server Application Programming Interface (ISAPI), which is a Microsoft's web server module interface. If PHP has no module support for a web server, it can always be used as a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) or FastCGI processor; in that case, the web server is configured to use PHP's CGI executable to process all requests to PHP files. PHP-FPM (FastCGI Process Manager) is an alternative FastCGI implementation for PHP, bundled with the official PHP distribution since version 5.3.3. When compared to the older FastCGI implementation, it contains some additional features, mostly useful for heavily loaded web servers

Development and community

PHP includes various free and open-source libraries in its source distribution, or uses them in resulting PHP binary builds. PHP is fundamentally an Internet-aware system with built-in modules for accessing File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers and many database servers, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and SQLite (which is an embedded database), LDAP servers, and others. Numerous functions familiar to C programmers, such as those in the stdio family, are available in standard PHP builds.

PHP allows developers to write extensions in C to add functionality to the PHP language. PHP extensions can be compiled statically into PHP or loaded dynamically at runtime. Numerous extensions have been written to add support for the Windows API, process management on Unix-like operating systems, multibyte strings (Unicode), cURL, and several popular compression formats. Other PHP features made available through extensions include integration with IRC, dynamic generation of images and Adobe Flash content, PHP Data Objects (PDO) as an abstraction layer used for accessing databases,and even speech synthesis. Some of the language's core functions, such as those dealing with strings and arrays, are also implemented as extensions. The PHP Extension Community Library (PECL) project is a repository for extensions to the PHP language.

Some other projects, such as Zephir, provide the ability for PHP extensions to be created in a high-level language and compiled into native PHP extensions. Such an approach, instead of writing PHP extensions directly in C, simplifies the development of extensions and reduces the time required for programming and testing.

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