Web Development: PHP - what role does it fill

Feb 1, 2009
Updated • Dec 29, 2014

Before we try to work with PHP we need understand the role it fills – what problem does it address. The World Wide Web is built on a client-server model. A client computer requests a page which is supplied by a Web Server. The browser then renders the page for the user to view. The simplest type of pages contain static (unchanging) content. The server could serve plain text files, and the browser wouldn't have any trouble rendering them.

HTML is a markup language that lets us describe attributes of the text and blocks on our pages. This works great for simple requests, making pages much more interesting than plain text. However it leaves us with a very simple structure. One page from One url (address) results in one rendered content (every time this url is requested, the output is the same).

To give us more options we have programming languages. Some like PHP run on the server side. They modify the content that will be displayed before it is sent to the client and on to the browser. Others like JavaScript run on the client side and allow changes to be made in the browser after the page has been rendered – usually for interactivity or for adding a feature not normally available in that browser.

The very first thing you _must_ do before getting started with PHP is get a good grasp of HTML (and CSS). Many webmasters use a tool like Dreamweaver, Expression Web or KompoZer. To
work with PHP it is important that you understand the underlying HTML code. You will be modifying this code so you need to be able to understand the HTML well enough to understand what you see.

If you like video training try Lynda.com or VTC.com. If you prefer reading a book try "Head First html with CSS & Xhtml" or if you prefer free web instruction try w3schools.com and tizag.com.

Now that you understand the markup language which is what is sent to the browser (HTML) you are ready to tackle the server side use of PHP.

Jeremiah Stover is a Software Developer at Pragmatic Development. He specializes in client communications. While PD does offer a full range of IT services and consulting, they are currently specializing in website development in PHP/MySQL.

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Web Development: PHP - what role does it fill
Before we try to work with PHP we need understand the role it fills – what problem does it address.

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  1. John said on April 2, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Thank you.

  2. CBSE said on February 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Thank you very much dude….

    i am impressed by your blog.

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