PHP is a reflective programming language originally designed for producing dynamic web pages. PHP is used mainly in server-side scripting, but can be used from a command line interface or in standalone graphical applications. Textual User Interfaces can also be created using ncurses. PHP is a recursive acronym for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor".

The main implementation is produced by The PHP Group and released under the PHP License. It is considered to be free software by the Free Software Foundation. This implementation serves to define a de facto standard for PHP, as there is no formal specification.

Currently, two major versions of PHP are being actively developed: 5.x and 4.4.x; on July 13, 2007, the PHP group announced that active development on PHP4 will cease by December 31, 2007, however, critical security updates will be provided until August 8, 2008.


PHP was written as a set of CGI binaries in the C programming language by the Danish/Greenlandic programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, to replace a small set of Perl scripts he had been using to maintain his personal homepage.[4] Lerdorf initially created PHP to display his résumé and to collect certain data, such as how much traffic his page was receiving. Personal Home Page Tools was publicly released on June 8, 1995 after Lerdorf combined it with his own Form Interpreter to create PHP/FI (this release is considered PHP version 2).[5]

Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans, two Israeli developers at the Technion IIT, rewrote the parser in 1997 and formed the base of PHP 3, changing the language's name to the recursive initialism PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. The development team officially released PHP/FI 2 in November 1997 after months of beta testing. Public testing of PHP 3 began and the official launch came in June 1998. Suraski and Gutmans then started a new rewrite of PHP's core, producing the Zend Engine in 1999.[6] They also founded Zend Technologies in Ramat Gan, Israel, which actively manages the development of PHP.

In May 2000, PHP 4, powered by the Zend Engine 1.0, was released. The most recent update released by The PHP Group, is for the older PHP version 4 code branch which, as of May 2007, is up to version 4.4.7. PHP 4 will be supported by security updates until August 8 2008[7].

On July 13, 2004, PHP 5 was released powered by the new Zend Engine II. PHP 5 included new features such as:[8]

  • Improved support for object-oriented programming
  • The PHP Data Objects extension, which defines a lightweight and consistent interface for accessing databases
  • Performance enhancements
  • Better support for MySQL and MSSQL
  • Embedded support for SQLite
  • Integrated SOAP support
  • Data iterators
  • Error handling via exceptions

The latest stable version, PHP 5.2.3, was released on May 31, 2007.


PHP generally runs on a web server, taking PHP code as its input and creating Web pages as output. However, it can also be used for command-line scripting and client-side GUI applications. PHP can be deployed on most web servers and on almost every operating system and platform free of charge. The PHP Group also provides the complete source code for users to build, customize and extend for their own use.

PHP primarily acts as a filter. The PHP program takes input from a file or stream containing text and special PHP instructions and outputs another stream of data for display.

From PHP 4, the PHP parser compiles input to produce bytecode for processing by the Zend Engine, giving improved performance over its interpreter predecessor. PHP 5 uses the Zend Engine II.

Server-side scriptingEdit

Originally designed to create dynamic web pages, PHP's principal focus is server-side scripting. While running the PHP parser with a web server and web browser, the PHP model can be compared to other server-side scripting languages such as Microsoft's ASP.NET system, Sun Microsystems' JavaServer Pages, mod_perl and the Ruby on Rails framework, as they all provide dynamic content to the client from a web server. To more directly compete with the "framework" approach taken by these systems, Zend is working on the Zend Framework - an emerging (as of June 2006) set of PHP building blocks and best practices; other PHP frameworks along the same lines include CakePHP, PRADO and Symfony.

The LAMP architecture has become popular in the Web industry as a way of deploying inexpensive, reliable, scalable, secure web applications. PHP is commonly used as the P in this bundle alongside Linux, Apache and MySQL, although the P can also refer to Python or Perl. PHP can be used with a large number of relational database management systems, runs on all of the most popular web servers and is available for many different operating systems. This flexibility means that PHP has a wide installation base across the Internet; over 19 million Internet domains are currently hosted on servers with PHP installed.[9]

Examples of popular server-side PHP applications include phpBB, WordPress, and MediaWiki.

Command-line scriptingEdit

PHP also provides a command line interface SAPI for developing shell and desktop applications, daemons, log parsing, or other system administration tasks. PHP is increasingly used on the command line for tasks that have traditionally been the domain of Perl, Python, awk, or shell scripting.[citation needed]

Client-side GUI applicationsEdit

PHP provides bindings to GUI libraries such as GTK+ (with PHP-GTK), Qt with PHP-Qt and text mode libraries like ncurses in order to facilitate development of a broader range of cross-platform GUI applications.

Syntax Edit

The usual "Hello World" code example for PHP is:

echo 'Hello, World!';

PHP only parses code within its delimiters, such as <?php ?>. Anything outside its delimiters is sent directly to the output and not parsed by PHP. The example above is equivalent to the following text (and indeed is converted into this form):

Hello, World!

The primary use of this is to allow PHP statements to be embedded within HTML documents, for example:

echo $page_title;

There is also an even faster way to echo a value; <?=$page_title?> would do the exact same thing as <?php echo $page_title; ?>

Variables are prefixed with a dollar symbol and a type does not need to be specified in advance. Unlike function and class names, variable names are case sensitive. Both double-quoted ("") and heredoc strings allow the ability to embed the variable's value into the string.

PHP treats new lines as whitespace, in the manner of a free-form language (except when inside string quotes). Statements are terminated by a semicolon, except in a few special cases.

PHP has three types of comment syntax: /* */ which serves as block comments, and // as well as # which is used for inline comments.

It should be noted that many examples use the print function instead of the echo function; the two are practically identical, and one may decide which one to use based on his personal preference.

Data typesEdit

PHP stores whole numbers in a platform-dependent range. This range is typically that of 32-bit signed integers. Integer variables can be assigned using decimal (positive and negative), octal and hexadecimal notations. Real numbers are also stored in a platform-specific range. They can be specified using floating point notation, or two forms of scientific notation.

PHP has a native Boolean type, named "boolean", similar to the native Boolean types in Java and C++. Using the Boolean type conversion rules, non-zero values can be interpreted as true and zero as false, as in Perl.

The null data type represents a variable that has no value. The only value in the null data type is NULL.

Variables of the "resource" type represent references to resources from external sources. These are typically created by functions from a particular extension, and can only be processed by functions from the same extension. Examples include file, image and database resources.

Arrays support both numeric and string indices, and are heterogeneous. Arrays can contain elements of any type that PHP can handle, including resources, objects, and even other arrays. Order is preserved in lists of values and in hashes with both keys and values, and the two can be intermingled.


Basic Object-oriented programming functionality was added in PHP 3. Handling of objects was completely rewritten for PHP 5, allowing for better performance and more features. In previous versions of PHP, objects were handled like primitive types. The drawback of this method was that the whole object was copied when a variable was assigned, or passed as a parameter to a method. 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 and abstract methods. It also introduced a standard way of declaring constructors and destructors similar to that of other object-oriented languages, such as C++, and an exception handling model similar to that of other programming languages.

The static method and class variable features in Zend Engine 2 do not work the way some expect. There is no virtual table feature in the engine, so the static variables are bound with a name at compile time instead of with a reference.

class foo extends bar
  function __construct()
  public static function mystaticfunc()

The above very basic example shows how to define a class, foo, that inherits from class bar. Additionally, the function, mystaticfunc, is a public static function that is called with foo::mystaticfunc();.

If the developer asks to create a copy of an object by using the reserved word clone, the Zend engine will check if a __clone() method has been defined or not. If not, it will call a default __clone() which will copy all of the object's properties. If a __clone() method is defined, then it will be responsible for setting the necessary properties in the created object. For convenience, the engine will supply a function that imports all of the properties from the source object, so that they can start with a by-value replica of the source object, and only override properties that need to be changed.


See Wikipedia's PHP article for resources, criticism, and information on support.

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at PHP. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with PHP, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.