The web is getting smarter with every passing day, so making your website as user-focused and intuitively designed as possible is your main key to success. To be performing all necessary dynamic actions in response to your visitors’ behavior your website needs one of two things, a complete site building software (where no contact with the code is needed) or some good design/programming skills.
In either case you are most likely to be using (indirectly or directly) the services of the PHP programming language – the established basis for many user-friendly web applications (blog, CMS, forum, e-commerce, etc. scripts) on the Internet and the most widely used scripting language as far as developers are concerned.
PHP was conceived back in 1995 with one basic revolutionary idea in mind – to allow both an intuitive work with the code and much improved usability of the websites. After a long testing period PHP 3, the first official PHP version, came to light, followed by the much enhanced, efficient and faster PHP 4 version. One of the greatest advantages of the language is its ability to easily interact with databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL and it undergoes many improvements with each new version.
The 5th revision of the language – PHP 5, comes to fill in the gaps of its predecessors, offering a completely reworked object model (with constructors, destructors, abstract classes, etc.) and much improved cohesion with MySQL (the MySQL extensions comes with multi-query functions, SSL connections, etc.) and XML (W3 compatibility and efficient data processing). PHP5 is the first version where the programming logic is separated from the error manipulation. This is done via exception handling. Other new introductions to the PHP core are the Standard PHP Library (SPL) and the Iterators.
Currently, PHP4 and PHP5 are the two official stable versions of the language. Even though PHP 4 is no longer developed, it is still used in a lot of scripts due to its proven qualities. If in doubt which version to use when developing your dynamic website – take a look at the PHP 4 and PHP 5 Comparison article, giving you a comprehensive overview of the two releases, with illustrative examples included.
With over a decade of constant progress, PHP has undergone a series of major improvements to its core. Each new version it designed to further facilitate the users in building their websites and provide more possibilities for bettering the onsite experience of their visitors.
The new upcoming PHP revision – PHP 6, currently available as a beta release, is announced to ensure a bunch of long awaited introductions such as Unicode support, Alternative PHP Cache (APC), and upgrades to the previous versions, including “namespaces” added to the OO functionality, replaced extensions, removed ‘bad practice’ features like register_globals and magic_quotes.
If you are eager to test the newest PHP achievement – you may be interested to know that all plans by PLiKhost Web Hosting come with PHP 6 support (alongside the stable PHP versions). In case you are not a fan of experiments – you will still be perfectly well with PHP 5 or PHP 4, whichever version suits your website’s platform best.