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PHP Roundup

last modified 2006-02-22 03:52 PM

Basic information about the most widely used FOSS web scripting language.

LAMP is the FOSS world's answer to Microsoft's Window Server and basic web site development - Linux, Apache, MySql and P (where P is a scripting language equivalent to ASP). The PHP Scripting Language is one variation of the P in this acronym (Perl and Python being the other alternatives).

PHP is a widely-used general-purpose scripting language that is specifically designed for website development and can be embedded into HTML. PHP is used in over 13 million domains and is the most popular Apache module. It is extremely easy to learn and deploy.

The web developer cognoscenti look down on PHP precisely because it is so simple to use. They claim it is pretty brain-dead, has serious security issues and does not scale well. Despite these criticism, PHP remains wildly popular.

At a recent meeting of the NYSIA FOSS SIG, we had three PHP speakers: Chris Shifflet, David Sklar and Adam Trachtenberg authors and PHP experts all. They took issue with those who turned up their nose at PHP, stressing it's ease of use and the fact that unlike Java, Perl or Python, PHP is specifically designed for website development. Unlike ASP or Cold Fusion, PHP is FOSS, and therefore has all the advantages of FOSS tools those web-specific alternatives lack.

They also noted that Yahoo gave PHP a huge vote of confidence. Yahoo is building all its new web-based service using PHP, and has hired the creator of PHP, Rasmus Lerdorf, to lead up the effort. Yahoo's investment of programming resources will give PHP a huge boost, and ensure its further growth and development.

Like many other FOSS products, PHP has commercial companies that support it. Our speakers mentioned Zend Technologies and NuSphere and there are certainly others. A good resource for PHP and LAMP in general is O'Reilly's ONLamp site.

While I certainly am not going to get involved in a language war, I have no compunction saying that the popularity of PHP, the support of Yahoo and the PHP community is another instance of FOSS showing it can create best-of-breed alterantives to proprietary solutions.

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