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Spotlight on PHP

Like so many things, it started out as something small. In 1994, a Toronto-based consultant named Rasmus Lerdorf developed a small hack to help Web designers. It was a simple little program that allowed the user to place a macro in static HTML code. Lerdorf decided to follow the new trend of open source, and the program proved to be popular.

In 1997, two Israeli programmers turned it into a full-fledged programming language. By re-writing the core engine, they transformed it from a little utility into a powerful Web design tool. And since then, its popularity has taken off. As of January 2001, PHP has been compiled with Apache in over 5,000,000 web sites, with its market share still growing.

But what is PHP? Simply put, it is a programming language that can be used to create dynamic Web pages and applications. PHP-enabled pages are treated exactly the same as HTML pages, simplifying matters considerably for the programmer. Moreover, PHP is a very comprehensive tag language, with the ability to insert several statements within a single tag. While version 3.0 had difficulties interacting with large Web applications, the new version 4.0 is fully prepared for the enterprise market. PHP is also multimedia capable, with simplified image creation and display, and the ability to exploit users' audio capacities. With the language's flexibility, it may only be a matter of time before it is also used in non-Internet applications, such as word processors and databases.

PHP's greatest strength lies in its open-source philosophy. Like Linux, PHP is a free program, with a readily accessible source code. This means that bugs can be found and corrected much more quickly than in cases of proprietary software, such as Microsoft's IIS; as a result, new versions can be developed more quickly.However, because PHP is still in many ways an infant in the programming language world, it will experience growing pains. Enterprise-scale compatibility has only come with the most recent release, and there will likely be some bugs to work out. However, as a Web-based solution, it is both easier and less expensive to use than many of the other available options.PHP can be downloaded at

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