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2
Getting Started with MySQL
In Chapter 1, we installed and set up two software programs: PHP and MySQL.
In this chapter, we'll learn how to work with MySQL databases using Structured
Query Language (SQL).
An Introduction to Databases
As I've already explained, PHP is a server-side scripting language that lets you
insert into your Web pages instructions that your Web server software (be it
Apache, IIS, or whatever) will execute before it sends those pages to browsers
that request them. In a brief example, I showed how it was possible to insert the
current date into a Web page every time it was requested.
Now that's all well and good, but things really get interesting when a database is
added to the mix. A database server (in our case, MySQL) is a program that can
store large amounts of information in an organized format that's easily accessible
through scripting languages like PHP. For example, you could tell PHP to look
in the database for a list of jokes that you'd like to appear on your Website.
In this example, the jokes would be stored entirely in the database. The advantages
of this approach would be twofold. First, instead of having to write an HTML
file for each of your jokes, you could write a single PHP file that was designed to
fetch any joke out of the database and display it. Second, adding a joke to your
Website would be a simple matter of inserting the joke into the database. The
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