Why PHP?

PHP and MySQL are very popular tools amongst web developers.  Both come from the ‘Open Source’ tradition.  That is they have been developed through collaboration and have been made available free for other developers to use.  As well as ‘cheap’ PHP/MySQL is ‘cheerful’ as there is a large and active group of developers willing to offer online support.  However, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Although many web hosting companies offer a PHP/MySQL package they will undoubtedly charge you for this.  The applications may be free for the company but they still have to provide server space and install, configure and maintain both applications.

So what are PHP and MySQL?

PHP was developed by Canadian Ramus Lerdorf, initially just to monitor website traffic.  He placed his work online ‘copyleft’ ie free for others to use and develop.  His PHP (Personal Home Page) thus mushroomed through a number of versions.  It also seemed to undergo a name change to the recursive acronym (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor).

The current release of PHP is version 5.

And what is it?  PHP is a way of embedding script along side HTML to add interaction to a web page.  PHP borrows heavily from programming languages such as C, Java and Perl.  It is primarily used by web developers to create pages that are dynamic – ie that change programmatically.  The main way this is done is through the connection of pages to a database.  And the database most often associated with PHP is MySQL.

Whereas PHP is an open source scripting language, MySQL is an open source database.  MySQL started life as an open source project.  It was acquired by Sun Microsystem, and then Oracle in turn, but still remains open source.  Oracle's income from MySQL comes from various upgrade, hosting and support packages associated with MySQL.

As the name would imply it uses SQL (Structured Query Language) like other popular Relational Databases such as Oracle, SQLServer and Dbase.

The current release of MySQL is 5.5.

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