PHP is a popular, open source scripting language that is used for the development of dynamic websites, usually in conjunction with MySQL databases that act as a backend store for the information required by the website. PHP is available across multiple platforms meaning that your choice of operating system shouldn’t restrict you from using PHP, more so your skills are going to be the main factor that could hold you back with regards to PHP development. One of the main reasons that businesses choose to use PHP for their development needs is that they can easily modify the core of the scripting language if they wish to add additional functionality or improve certain factors and functions in order to provide their web users with a more stable user experience. PHP is the best scripting language to use in a Linux web hosting environment as it will provide you with the best level of interaction with the operating system and when you’re trying to develop scalable web applications, you want to make the most of what the operating system has to offer. There are many websites that will also be able to aid you with PHP development if you are having issues with a certain aspect of dynamic website development.
PHP is used by many web developers who wish to create interactive web applications that can be used for a number of different functions because of the advance features that are available. PHP websites are best hosted on a Linux web hosting environment and PHP is one part of the popular LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) setup used by many web developers and web hosting companies to offer low cost hosting services. As PHP is available on most web hosting platforms you don’t really need to worry about whether it is supported by your chosen web hosting service anyway because the chances are that it probably is, although the modules available for you to use may differ between web hosting providers because some web hosting companies choose to disable some because of their own security policies.
When compared to other scripting languages such as ASP and Ruby, PHP is a lot more flexible as it isn’t operating system specific and is extendable through the means of the many modules and functions that you are able to add to the main PHP framework as you see necessary. If we take ASP as an example, this is a scripting language that has been developed by Microsoft meaning that it will only function on the Windows operating system; when we compare this to PHP, we find that PHP is a cross-platform scripting language that can be used on any operating system regardless. Although there are additional frameworks available for Ruby, with Rails being a good example, it has only become popular in the past few years meaning that the kind of support that is in place for PHP just doesn’t exist for Ruby at this moment in time.
Although PHP is most commonly used with MySQL when it comes to developing database driven websites, depending on the platform being used you can also integrate other database systems into your PHP website as necessary. If you are going to be hosting your PHP websites on a Windows hosting package then you can consider Microsoft SQL Server as a viable alternative to MySQL Server, although you need to consider that you will need to pay for Microsoft SQL Server whereas MySQL Server is open source and therefore free to use in any medium. You may also be using other database server applications produced by other software companies such as Oracle, although these are usually aimed at larger businesses. The only factor that affects the database applications that you can use with PHP websites is the connector modules that are available, but there are many available so thee is quite a lot of variety.
Although there is no official support available for PHP, its popularity has ensured that there is a community of dedicated developers who will be able to assist you with any questions you may about the PHP scripting language. You can always refer to the official documentation which covers pretty much every PHP functions that there is and how to use them; this can be handy when developing a PHP website because it will provide you with alternative functions and/or methods that may provide you cleaner and easier to read code to provide a more functional final product. As well as there being many unofficial forums providing support, you can also purchase books and other informative materials that will offer you the support you require if developing a website using PHP for the first time; such materials are usually aimed at beginners and provide you with step-by-step guides to completing different tasks that you are likely to want to carry out when developing a PHP website.
Your choice of web hosting package should be based on how big you feel your website is going to become and how much traffic you expect to receive. If you receive high volumes of traffic then obviously your PHP application is going to put more stress on the server resources that are available, thus meaning that you are going to need to consider a higher specification server for your needs. A shared Linux hosting package is more than suitable for first time developers who wish to keep things simple and don’t want to end up spending too much, but as your website picks up traffic then you can always consider a more powerful form of hosting.
In conclusion, PHP will enable you to create a website that is a lot more functional than any website created using static HTML will ever be. As PHP websites can be integrated with many different database systems, you are provided with a place in which you can store data that can then be accessed by your web pages and scripts as and when you require. However, you don’t always have to create a database driven website; there are many other functions that are part of the PHP core that you can tap into to add other functions to your website such as file upload facilities and email sending capabilities.