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Start With PHP



What is PHP?

  • PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor
  • PHP is a server-side scripting language, like ASP
  • PHP scripts are executed on the server
  • PHP supports many databases (MySQL, Informix, Oracle, Sybase, Solid, PostgreSQL, Generic ODBC, etc.)
  • PHP is an open source software (OSS)
  • PHP is free to download and use

What is a PHP File?

  • PHP files may contain text, HTML tags and scripts
  • PHP files are returned to the browser as plain HTML 
  • PHP files have a file extension of ".php", ".php3", or ".phtml"

What is MySQL?

  • MySQL is a small database server
  • MySQL is ideal for small and medium applications
  • MySQL supports standard SQL
  • MySQL compiles on a number of platforms
  • MySQL is free to download and use

PHP + MySQL

  • PHP combined with MySQL are cross-platform (means that you can develop in Windows and serve on a Unix platform)

Why PHP?

  • PHP runs on different platforms (Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.)
  • PHP is compatible with almost all servers used today (Apache, IIS, etc.)
  • PHP is FREE to download from the official PHP resource: www.php.net
  • PHP is easy to learn and runs efficiently on the server side

Where to Start?

  • Install an Apache server on a Windows or Linux machine
  • Install PHP on a Windows or Linux machine
  • Install MySQL on a Windows or Linux machine








Basic PHP Syntax

A PHP scripting block always starts with <?php and ends with ?>. A PHP scripting block can be placed anywhere in the document.
On servers with shorthand support enabled you can start a scripting block with <? and end with ?>.
However, for maximum compatibility, we recommend that you use the standard form (<?php) rather than the shorthand form.
<?php
?>
A PHP file normally contains HTML tags, just like an HTML file, and some PHP scripting code.
Below, we have an example of a simple PHP script which sends the text "Hello World" to the browser:
<html>
<body>
<?php
echo "Hello World";
?>
</body>
</html>
Each code line in PHP must end with a semicolon. The semicolon is a separator and is used to distinguish one set of instructions from another.
There are two basic statements to output text with PHP: echo and print. In the example above we have used the echo statement to output the text "Hello World".


Comments in PHP

In PHP, we use // to make a single-line comment or /* and */ to make a large comment block.
<html>
<body>
<?php
//This is a comment
/*
This is
a comment
block
*/
?>
</body>
</html>




Variables in PHP

All variables in PHP start with a $ sign symbol. Variables may contain strings, numbers, or arrays.
Below, the PHP script assigns the string "Hello World" to a variable called $txt:
<html>
<body>
<?php
$txt="Hello World";
echo $txt;
?>
</body>
</html>
To concatenate two or more variables together, use the dot (.) operator:
<html>
<body>
<?php
$txt1="Hello World";
$txt2="1234";
echo $txt1 . " " . $txt2 ;
?>
</body>
</html>
The output of the script above will be: "Hello World 1234".


Variable Naming Rules

  • A variable name must start with a letter or an underscore "_"
  • A variable name can only contain alpha-numeric characters and underscores (a-Z, 0-9, and _ )
  • A variable name should not contain spaces. If a variable name should be more than one word, it should be separated with underscore ($my_string), or with capitalization ($myString)







PHP Operators

This section lists the different operators used in PHP.

Arithmetic Operators
Operator
Description
Example
Result
+
Addition
x=2
x+2
4
-
Subtraction
x=2
5-x
3
*
Multiplication
x=4
x*5
20
/
Division
15/5
5/2
3
2.5
%
Modulus (division remainder)
5%2
10%8
10%2
1
2
0
++
Increment
x=5
x++
x=6
--
Decrement
x=5
x--
x=4
Assignment Operators
Operator
Example
Is The Same As
=
x=y
x=y
+=
x+=y
x=x+y
-=
x-=y
x=x-y
*=
x*=y
x=x*y
/=
x/=y
x=x/y
%=
x%=y
x=x%y
Comparison Operators
Operator
Description
Example
==
is equal to
5==8 returns false
!=
is not equal
5!=8 returns true
is greater than
5>8 returns false
is less than
5<8 returns true
>=
is greater than or equal to
5>=8 returns false
<=
is less than or equal to
5<=8 returns true
Logical Operators
Operator
Description
Example
&&
and
x=6
y=3
(x < 10 && y > 1) returns true
||
or
x=6
y=3
(x==5 || y==5) returns false
!
not
x=6
y=3
!(x==y) returns true

Conditional Statements

Very often when you write code, you want to perform different actions for different decisions.
You can use conditional statements in your code to do this.
  • if...else statement - use this statement if you want to execute a set of code when a condition is true and another if the condition is not true
  • elseif statement - is used with the if...else statement to execute a set of code if one of several condition are true


The If...Else Statement

If you want to execute some code if a condition is true and another code if a condition is false, use the if....else statement.

Syntax

if (condition)
  code to be executed if condition is true;
else
  code to be executed if condition is false;

Example

The following example will output "Have a nice weekend!" if the current day is Friday, otherwise it will output "Have a nice day!":
<html>
<body>
<?php
$d=date("D");
if ($d=="Fri")
  echo "Have a nice weekend!"; 
else
  echo "Have a nice day!"; 
?>
</body>
</html>
If more than one line should be executed if a condition is true/false, the lines should be enclosed within curly braces:
<html>
<body>
<?php
$d=date("D");
if ($d=="Fri")
  {
  echo "Hello!<br />"; 
  echo "Have a nice weekend!";
  echo "See you on Monday!";
  }
?>
</body>
</html>



The ElseIf Statement

If you want to execute some code if one of several conditions are true use the elseif statement

Syntax

if (condition)
  code to be executed if condition is true;
elseif (condition)
  code to be executed if condition is true;
else
  code to be executed if condition is false;

Example

The following example will output "Have a nice weekend!" if the current day is Friday, and "Have a nice Sunday!" if the current day is Sunday. Otherwise it will output "Have a nice day!":
<html>
<body>
<?php
$d=date("D");
if ($d=="Fri")
  echo "Have a nice weekend!"; 
elseif ($d=="Sun")
  echo "Have a nice Sunday!"; 
else
  echo "Have a nice day!"; 
?>
</body>
</html>


The Switch Statement

If you want to select one of many blocks of code to be executed, use the Switch statement.
The switch statement is used to avoid long blocks of if..elseif..else code.

Syntax

switch (expression)
{
case label1:
  code to be executed if expression = label1;
  break;  
case label2:
  code to be executed if expression = label2;
  break;
default:
  code to be executed
  if expression is different 
  from both label1 and label2;
}

Example

This is how it works:
  • A single expression (most often a variable) is evaluated once
  • The value of the expression is compared with the values for each case in the structure
  • If there is a match, the code associated with that case is executed
  • After a code is executed, break is used to stop the code from running into the next case
  • The default statement is used if none of the cases are true
<html>
<body>
<?php
switch ($x)
{
case 1:
  echo "Number 1";
  break;
case 2:
  echo "Number 2";
  break;
case 3:
  echo "Number 3";
  break;
default:
  echo "No number between 1 and 3";
}
?>
</body>
</html>


What is an array?

When working with PHP, sooner or later, you might want to create many similar variables.
Instead of having many similar variables, you can store the data as elements in an array.
Each element in the array has its own ID so that it can be easily accessed.
There are three different kind of arrays:
  • Numeric array - An array with a numeric ID key
  • Associative array - An array where each ID key is associated with a value
  • Multidimensional array - An array containing one or more arrays


Numeric Arrays

A numeric array stores each element with a numeric ID key.
There are different ways to create a numeric array.

Example 1

In this example the ID key is automatically assigned:
$names = array("Peter","Quagmire","Joe");

Example 2

In this example we assign the ID key manually:
$names[0] = "Peter";
$names[1] = "Quagmire";
$names[2] = "Joe";
The ID keys can be used in a script:
<?php
$names[0] = "Peter";
$names[1] = "Quagmire";
$names[2] = "Joe";
echo $names[1] . " and " . $names[2] . 
" are ". $names[0] . "'s neighbors";
?>
The code above will output:
Quagmire and Joe are Peter's neighbors



Associative Arrays

An associative array, each ID key is associated with a value.
When storing data about specific named values, a numerical array is not always the best way to do it.
With associative arrays we can use the values as keys and assign values to them.

Example 1

In this example we use an array to assign ages to the different persons:
$ages = array("Peter"=>32, "Quagmire"=>30, "Joe"=>34);

 

Example 2

This example is the same as example 1, but shows a different way of creating the array:
$ages['Peter'] = "32";
$ages['Quagmire'] = "30";
$ages['Joe'] = "34";
The ID keys can be used in a script:
<?php
$ages['Peter'] = "32";
$ages['Quagmire'] = "30";
$ages['Joe'] = "34";
echo "Peter are " . $ages['Peter'] . " years old.";
?>
The code above will output:
Peter are 32 years old.



Multidimensional Arrays

In a multidimensional array, each element in the main array can also be an array. And each element in the sub-array can be an array, and so on.

Example

In this example we create a multidimensional array, with automatically assigned ID keys:
$families = array
(
  "Griffin"=>array
  (
  "Peter",
  "Lois",
  "Megan",
  ),
  "Quagmire"=>array
  (
  "Glenn"
  ),
  "Brown"=>array
  (
  "Cleveland",
  "Loretta",
  "Junior"
  )
);


The array above would look like this if written to the output:
Array
(
[Griffin] => Array
  (
  [0] => Peter
  [1] => Lois
  [2] => Megan
  )
[Quagmire] => Array
  (
  [0] => Glenn
  )
[Brown] => Array
  (
  [0] => Cleveland
  [1] => Loretta
  [2] => Junior
  )
) 


Looping

Very often when you write code, you want the same block of code to run a number of times. You can use looping statements in your code to perform this.
In PHP we have the following looping statements:
  • while - loops through a block of code if and as long as a specified condition is true
  • do...while - loops through a block of code once, and then repeats the loop as long as a special condition is true
  • for - loops through a block of code a specified number of times
  • foreach - loops through a block of code for each element in an array


The while Statement

The while statement will execute a block of code if and as long as a condition is true.

Syntax

while (condition)
code to be executed;

Example

The following example demonstrates a loop that will continue to run as long as the variable i is less than, or equal to 5. i will increase by 1 each time the loop runs:

<html>
<body>
<?php 
$i=1;
while($i<=5)
  {
  echo "The number is " . $i . "<br />";
  $i++;
  }
?>
</body>
</html>



The do...while Statement

The do...while statement will execute a block of code at least once - it then will repeat the loop as long as a condition is true.

Syntax

do
{
code to be executed;
}
while (condition);

Example

The following example will increment the value of i at least once, and it will continue incrementing the variable i as long as it has a value of less than 5:
<html>
<body>
<?php 
$i=0;
do
  {
  $i++;
  echo "The number is " . $i . "<br />";
  }
while ($i<5);
?>
</body>
</html>



The for Statement

The for statement is used when you know how many times you want to execute a statement or a list of statements.

 

 

Syntax

for (initialization; condition; increment)
{
  code to be executed;
}
Note: The for statement has three parameters. The first parameter initializes variables, the second parameter holds the condition, and the third parameter contains the increments required to implement the loop. If more than one variable is included in the initialization or the increment parameter, they should be separated by commas. The condition must evaluate to true or false.

Example

The following example prints the text "Hello World!" five times:
<html>
<body>
<?php
for ($i=1; $i<=5; $i++)
{
  echo "Hello World!<br />";
}
?>
</body>
</html>



The foreach Statement

The foreach statement is used to loop through arrays.
For every loop, the value of the current array element is assigned to $value (and the array pointer is moved by one) - so on the next loop, you'll be looking at the next element.

Syntax

foreach (array as value)
{
    code to be executed;
}

Example

The following example demonstrates a loop that will print the values of the given array:
<html>
<body>
<?php
$arr=array("one", "two", "three");
foreach ($arr as $value)
{
  echo "Value: " . $value . "<br />";
}
?>
</body>
</html>

Create a PHP Function

A function is a block of code that can be executed whenever we need it.

Creating PHP functions:

  • All functions start with the word "function()"
  • Name the function - It should be possible to understand what the function does by its name. The name can start with a letter or underscore (not a number)
  • Add a "{"  - The function code starts after the opening curly brace
  • Insert the function code
  • Add a "}"  - The function is finished by a closing curly brace

Example

A simple function that writes my name when it is called:
<html>
<body>
<?php
function writeMyName()
  {
  echo "Kai Jim Refsnes";
  }
writeMyName();
?>
</body>
</html>



Use a PHP Function

Now we will use the function in a PHP script:
<html>
<body>
<?php
function writeMyName()
  {
  echo "Kai Jim Refsnes";
  }
echo "Hello world!<br />";
echo "My name is ";
writeMyName();
echo ".<br />That's right, ";
writeMyName();
echo " is my name.";
?>
</body>
</html>
The output of the code above will be:
Hello world!
My name is Kai Jim Refsnes.
That's right, Kai Jim Refsnes is my name.



PHP Functions - Adding parameters

Our first function (writeMyName()) is a very simple function. It only writes a static string.
To add more functionality to a function, we can add parameters. A parameter is just like a variable.
You may have noticed the parentheses after the function name, like: writeMyName(). The parameters are specified inside the parentheses.

Example 1

The following example will write different first names, but the same last name:
<html>
<body>
<?php
function writeMyName($fname)
  {
  echo $fname . " Refsnes.<br />";
  }
echo "My name is ";
writeMyName("Kai Jim");
echo "My name is ";
writeMyName("Hege");
echo "My name is ";
writeMyName("Stale");
?>
</body>
</html>
The output of the code above will be:
My name is Kai Jim Refsnes.
My name is Hege Refsnes.
My name is Stale Refsnes.

Example 2

The following function has two parameters:
<html>
<body>
<?php
function writeMyName($fname,$punctuation)
  {
  echo $fname . " Refsnes" . $punctuation . "<br />";
  }
echo "My name is ";
writeMyName("Kai Jim",".");
echo "My name is ";
writeMyName("Hege","!");
echo "My name is ";
writeMyName("Ståle","...");
?>
</body>
</html>
The output of the code above will be:
My name is Kai Jim Refsnes.
My name is Hege Refsnes!
My name is Ståle Refsnes...
 


PHP Functions - Return values

Functions can also be used to return values.

Example

<html>
<body>
<?php
function add($x,$y)
  {
  $total = $x + $y;
  return $total;
  }
echo "1 + 16 = " . add(1,16)
?>
</body>
</html>
The output of the code above will be:
1 + 16 = 17


PHP Form Handling

The most important thing to notice when dealing with HTML forms and PHP is that any form element in an HTML page will automatically be available to your PHP scripts.
Form example:
<html>
<body>
<form action="welcome.php" method="post">
Name: <input type="text" name="name" />
Age: <input type="text" name="age" />
<input type="submit" />
</form>
</body>
</html>
The example HTML page above contains two input fields and a submit button. When the user fills in this form and click on the submit button, the form data is sent to the "welcome.php" file.
The "welcome.php" file looks like this:
<html>
<body>
Welcome <?php echo $_POST["name"]; ?>.<br />
You are <?php echo $_POST["age"]; ?> years old.
</body>
</html>
A sample output of the above script may be:
Welcome John.
You are 28 years old.
The PHP $_GET and $_POST variables will be explained in the next chapters.


Form Validation

User input should be validated on the browser whenever possible (by client scripts (JavaScript)). Browser validation is faster and you reduce the server load.
You should consider using server validation if the user input will be inserted into a database. A good way to validate a form on the server is to post the form to itself, instead of jumping to a different page. The user will then get the error messages on the same page as the form. This makes it easier to discover the error.

The $_GET Variable

The $_GET variable is an array of variable names and values sent by the HTTP GET method.
The $_GET variable is used to collect values from a form with method="get". Information sent from a form with the GET method is visible to everyone (it will be displayed in the browser's address bar) and it has limits on the amount of information to send (max. 100 characters).

Example

<form action="welcome.php" method="get">
Name: <input type="text" name="name" />
Age: <input type="text" name="age" />
<input type="submit" />
</form>
When the user clicks the "Submit" button, the URL sent could look something like this:
welcome.php?name=Peter&age=37
The "welcome.php" file can now use the $_GET variable to catch the form data (notice that the names of the form fields will automatically be the ID keys in the $_GET array):
Welcome <?php echo $_GET["name"]; ?>.<br />
You are <?php echo $_GET["age"]; ?> years old!



Why use $_GET?

Note: When using the $_GET variable all variable names and values are displayed in the URL. So this method should not be used when sending passwords or other sensitive information! However, because the variables are displayed in the URL, it is possible to bookmark the page. This can be useful in some cases.
Note: The HTTP GET method is not suitable on large variable values; the value cannot exceed 100 characters.


The $_REQUEST Variable

The PHP $_REQUEST variable contains the contents of both $_GET, $_POST, and $_COOKIE.
The PHP $_REQUEST variable can be used to get the result from form data sent with both the GET and POST methods.

Example

Welcome <?php echo $_REQUEST["name"]; ?>.<br />
You are <?php echo $_REQUEST["age"]; ?> years old!

The $_POST Variable

The $_POST variable is an array of variable names and values sent by the HTTP POST method.
The $_POST variable is used to collect values from a form with method="post". Information sent from a form with the POST method is invisible to others and has no limits on the amount of information to send.

Example

<form action="welcome.php" method="post">
Enter your name: <input type="text" name="name" />
Enter your age: <input type="text" name="age" />
<input type="submit" />
</form>
When the user clicks the "Submit" button, the URL will not contain any form data, and will look something like this:
welcome.php
The "welcome.php" file can now use the $_POST variable to catch the form data (notice that the names of the form fields will automatically be the ID keys in the $_POST array):
Welcome <?php echo $_POST["name"]; ?>.<br />
You are <?php echo $_POST["age"]; ?> years old!



Why use $_POST?

  • Variables sent with HTTP POST are not shown in the URL
  • Variables have no length limit
However, because the variables are not displayed in the URL, it is not possible to bookmark the page.


The $_REQUEST Variable

The PHP $_REQUEST variable contains the contents of both $_GET, $_POST, and $_COOKIE.
The PHP $_REQUEST variable can be used to get the result from form data sent with both the GET and POST methods.

Example

Welcome <?php echo $_REQUEST["name"]; ?>.<br />
You are <?php echo $_REQUEST["age"]; ?> years old!


Opening a File

The fopen() function is used to open files in PHP.
The first parameter of this function contains the name of the file to be opened and the second parameter specifies in which mode the file should be opened:
<html>
<body>
<?php
$file=fopen("welcome.txt","r");
?>
</body>
</html>
The file may be opened in one of the following modes:
Modes
Description
r
Read only. Starts at the beginning of the file
r+
Read/Write. Starts at the beginning of the file
w
Write only. Opens and clears the contents of file; or creates a new file if it doesn't exist
w+
Read/Write. Opens and clears the contents of file; or creates a new file if it doesn't exist
a
Append. Opens and writes to the end of the file or creates a new file if it doesn't exist
a+
Read/Append. Preserves file content by writing to the end of the file
x
Write only. Creates a new file. Returns FALSE and an error if file already exists
x+
Read/Write. Creates a new file. Returns FALSE and an error if file already exists
Note: If the fopen() function is unable to open the specified file, it returns 0 (false).

Example

The following example generates a message if the fopen() function is unable to open the specified file:
<html>
<body>
<?php
$file=fopen("welcome.txt","r") or exit("Unable to open file!");

?>
</body>
</html>



Closing a File

The fclose() function is used to close an open file:
<?php
$file = fopen("test.txt","r");
//some code to be executed
fclose($file);
?>



Reading from a File

The feof() function is used to determine if the end of file is true.
Note: You cannot read from files opened in w, a, and x mode!
if (feof($f))
echo "End of file";



Reading a Character

The fgetc() function is used to read a single character from a file.
Note: After a call to this function the file pointer has moved to the next character.

 

Example

The example below reads a file character by character, until the end of file is true:
<?php
$f=fopen("welcome.txt","r") or exit("Unable to open file!");
while (!feof($f)) 
{ 
$x=fgetc($f); 
echo $x;
}
fclose($f);
?>


What is a Cookie?

A cookie is often used to identify a user. A cookie is a small file that the server embeds on the user's computer. Each time the same computer requests for a page with a browser, it will send the cookie too. With PHP, you can both create and retrieve cookie values.


How to Create a Cookie

The setcookie() function is used to create cookies.
Note: The setcookie() function must appear BEFORE the <html> tag.

Syntax

setcookie(name, value, expire, path, domain);

Example

The following example sets a cookie named "uname" - that expires after ten hours.
<?php 
setcookie("uname", $name, time()+36000);
?>
<html>
<body>
<p>
A cookie was set on this page! The cookie will be active when 
the client has sent the cookie back to the server.
</p>
</body>
</html>



 

 

How to Retrieve a Cookie Value

When a cookie is set, PHP uses the cookie name as a variable.
To access a cookie you just refer to the cookie name as a variable.
Tip: Use the isset() function to find out if a cookie has been set.

Example

The following example tests if the uname cookie has been set, and prints an appropriate message.
<html>
<body>
<?php
if (isset($_COOKIE["uname"]))
echo "Welcome " . $_COOKIE["uname"] . "!<br />";
else
echo "You are not logged in!<br />";
?>
</body>
</html>


Server Side Includes

You can insert the content of one file into another file before the server executes it, with the require() function. The require() function is used to create functions, headers, footers, or elements that will be reused on multiple pages.
This can save the developer a considerable amount of time. If all of the pages on your site have a similar header, you can include a single file containing the header into your pages. When the header needs updating, you only update the one page, which is included in all of the pages that use the header.

Example

The following example includes a header that should be used on all pages:
<html>
<body>
<?php require("header.htm"); ?>
<p>
Some text
</p>
<p>
Some text
</p>
</body>
</html>




The mail() Function

The mail() function is used to send emails.
Syntax
mail(to,subject,message,headers,parameters)

Parameter
Description
to
Required. Specifies the receiver / receivers of the email
subject
Required. Specifies the subject of the email. Note: This parameter cannot contain any newline characters
message
Required. Defines the message to be sent. Each line should be separated with a LF (\n). Lines should not exceed 70 characters
headers
Optional. Specifies additional headers, like From, Cc, and Bcc. The additional headers should be separated with a CRLF (\r\n)
parameters
Optional. Specifies an additional parameter to the sendmail program (the one defined in the sendmail_path configuration setting). (i.e. this can be used to set the envelope sender address when using sendmail with the -f sendmail option)



PHP Simple Text E-Mail

The simplest way to send an email with PHP is to send a simple text email.
This is a simple text email where we define the variables and send a mail:
<?php
$to = "someone@someplace.com";
$subject = "Test mail";
$message = "Hello! This is a simple text email message.";
$from = "someonelse@anotherplace.com";
$headers = "From: $from";
 
mail($to,$subject,$message,$headers);
echo "Mail Sent.";
?>



PHP Mail Form

Using PHP you can create a feedback form for your website. In this example it sends a text message to a specified e-mail.
When using HTML forms with PHP, any form element in the HTML form will automatically be available to the PHP script.
This is how this example works:
  • Check if the email input is set
  • If it is not set (like when the page is first visited) it will output the HTML mail form
  • If the email input is set (like after the form is filled out) it will send the mail from the form
  • When submit is pressed after the form is filled out, the page reloads, sees that the email input is set, and sends the mail.

<html>
<body>
<?php
if (isset($_REQUEST['email']))
  {
  $email = $_REQUEST['email'] ; 
  $subject = $_REQUEST['subject'] ;
  $message = $_REQUEST['message'] ;
  mail( "someone@someplace.com", "Subject: $subject",
  $message, "From: $email" );
 
  echo "Thank you for using our mail form";
  }
else
  {
  echo "<form method='post' action='mailform.php'>
  Email: <input name='email' type='text' /><br />
  Subject: <input name='subject' type='text' /><br />
  Message:<br />
  <textarea name='message' rows='15' cols='40'>
  </textarea><br />
  <input type='submit' />
  </form>";
  }
?>
</body>
</html>


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