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Getting Started with PHP
In Chapter 2, we learned how to use the MySQL database engine to store a list
of jokes in a simple database (composed of a single table named Jokes). To do
so, we used the MySQL command-line client to enter SQL commands (queries).
In this chapter, we'll introduce the PHP server-side scripting language. In addition
to the basic features we'll explore here, this language has full support for communication with MySQL databases.
Introducing PHP
As we've discussed previously, PHP is a server-side scripting language. This concept
is not obvious, especially if you're used to designing pages with just HTML and
JavaScript. A server-side scripting language is similar to JavaScript in many ways,
as they both allow you to embed little programs (scripts) into the HTML of a
Web page. When executed, such scripts allow you to control what will actually
appear in the browser window with more flexibility than is possible using straight
The key difference between JavaScript and PHP is simple. JavaScript is interpreted
by the Web browser once the Web page that contains the script has been
downloaded. Meanwhile, server-side scripting languages like PHP are interpreted
by the Web server before the page is even sent to the browser. And, once it's interpreted, the results of the script replace the PHP code in the Web page itself,
so all the browser sees is a standard HTML file. The script is processed entirely
by the server, hence the designation: server-side scripting language.