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An Introduction to PHP


Misconceptions about the iSeries and AS/400 servers have been around almost as long as the platform itself. Some outsiders continue to view the iSeries server as old technology incapable of allowing users to do anything new and interesting.

 

Of course, as users of the server and readers of this magazine should know, the truth is that the iSeries server supports a range of cutting-edge technologies. But even those who know the iSeries server may be unaware of everything it can do and every new and useful tool it can support.

Enter PHP. This versatile scripting language (it's a recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor) can be used to simplify many iSeries programming tasks.

PHP has been around since 1995. First known as Personal Home Page Tools (PHP/FI), it was developed to track the number of accesses to the online resume of its creator. PHP's feature set has since expanded dramatically. It's primarily a Web-based programming tool designed to simplify the process of creating dynamic Web pages by allowing programmers to embed code into HTML. However, it can just as easily be used for command-line scripting (a.k.a., shell scripts for UNIX* users). It's even used to develop GUI applications.

PHP offers hundreds of development functions and features. Many tasks that may be difficult to handle with more traditional iSeries languages like RPG, C or C++ become quite simple. PHP excels as a tool for processing form data and creating pages with search engines, user-personalization options and other dynamic content. By compiling PHP and using APIs, you can generate Web pages that access database content.

You may have noticed the word "compiled" in the previous paragraph. PHP must be compiled for your system, but the process is simpler than you may think.

 

David Stockton is a programmer with J.D. Edwards World Solutions Company. He can be reached at his Web site davidstockton.com.


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