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Welcome to PHP Basics! This tutorial is designed for students taking EDUC R547 Computer Mediated Learning at Indiana University. It may be also useful for others who are just beginning to use PHP on IU computers (even experienced programmers), for basic knowledge of how to get PHP programs to run in the IU environment without that "Internal server error" message.

Purpose of Tutorial:

  • to help you get started with basic PHP scripting (including requirements for saving files in Unix format, putting an interpreter directive in the first line, and setting file permissions correctly for your PHP program files)
  • be able to access the tools and software that are useful for editing and managing PHP scripts (SSH telnet, a few basic Unix commands, Pico editor, Secure File Transfer, Homesite)
  • create elementary PHP applications as a part of web-based instruction, e.g., give feedback to the users after they complete a quiz
  • input and save information from an online survey
  • debug a PHP program that has syntax errors

Prerequisite Knowledge:

You should know HTML well and be comfortable editing HTML in a text editor.

What is PHP?

  • PHP refers to PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a server-side scripting language that is embedded in HTML documents. Only the output of the scripts are sent to the client. The end users do not see the script.
  • PHP is a very widely used language for dynamic web development. For example, if you want to keep record of a user's score and provide feedback, you can do it with a few lines of code. Please refer to the example, Demonstration Quiz using PHP, created by Dr. Ted Frick.
  • PHP is easier to learn than other server-side scripting languages, such as ASP, Cold Fusion. Perl, and Java (see http://www.php.net/ for a simple tutorial and complete PHP reference with examples online; note that this tutorial will not cover IU specific requirements that we do here).

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Created by Polly, Sanser, and Young (2002)
Revised and updated by T. Frick, June 27, 2005