PHP – Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP – Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP (recursive acronym for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor” Hypertext Preprocessor) is an interpreted scripting language, with an open source license and partially free (but incompatible with the GPL), originally designed for producing dynamic web pages.

It is currently used mainly for developing server side web applications but can also be used to write scripts in command line or standalone applications with graphical user interface. An example of software written in PHP is MediaWiki, which is based wikis such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary.

PHP – A Brief History

Founded in 1994 by the Dane Rasmus Lerdorf, PHP was originally a collection of CGI scripts that allow easy management of personal pages. The original meaning of the acronym was Personal Home Page (in the original ad of PHP 1.0 by the author on the newsgroup comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi).

The original package was later expanded and rewritten by the same Lerdorf in C, adding features such as support for the mSQL database and came to be called PHP / FI, where FI stands for Form Interpreter (interpreter form), with the possibility of integrating the code PHP in the HTML in order to simplify the creation of dynamic pages. In that period, 50,000 Internet domains announce that they have installed PHP.

At this point, the language began to enjoy some popularity among open source projects on the web, and was so noted by two young programmers: Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski. The two collaborated in 1998 with Lerdorf develop the third version of PHP (whose acronym took on contemporary meaning) Rewrite the Zend engine that was baptized by a contraction of their names.

The key features of PHP version 3.0 fruits of their labor, were the extraordinary extensibility, database connectivity and initial support for object orientation. Towards the end of 1998, PHP 3.0 was installed on approximately 10% of web servers on the Internet.

PHP became so mature at this point to compete with ASP, server-side language similar to PHP developed by Microsoft, and began to be used on a large scale. The version of PHP 4 was released in 2000 and provided significant improvements. Currently it is in the fifth version, developed by a team of programmers, which still includes Lerdorf, as well Suraski and Gutmans.

The popularity of PHP is growing steadily thanks to its flexibility: in June 2001. It has exceeded the million sites that use it. In October 2002, more than 45% of servers were using Apache PHP.

In January 2005 he was awarded the title of “Programming Language of 2004” by TIOBE Programming Community Index, ranking which evaluates the popularity of programming languages based on information gathered by search engines.

In 2005, the LAMP configuration (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) exceed 50% of all servers on the World Wide Web.

PHP Features

PHP closely resembles the syntax of C, as indeed do many modern languages, and Perl. It is a language with weak typing and version 5 enhances support to the paradigm of object-oriented programming. Some constructs derived from C, as operators between bit and string handling arrays, allows in some cases to act at a low level, but it is basically a high-level language, a characteristic enhanced by the existence of its many APIs as well 3000 functions of the core base.

PHP is capable of interfacing to many databases including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Firebird, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, just to name a few, and supports numerous technologies such as XML, SOAP, IMAP, FTP, CORBA. It also integrates with other languages / platforms like Java and. NET and can be said that there is a wrapper for each existing library, such as cURL, GD, Gettext, GMP, Ming, OpenSSL, and more.

Specification provides an API to interact with Apache, although of course with many features web server. It is also very well integrated with the MySQL database, for which he holds more than an API. For this reason there is an enormous amount of scripts and libraries in PHP, freely available on the Internet. Version 5, however, incorporates within it a small embedded database, SQLite.

It has a file called PEAR, which provides a framework of reusable libraries for developing applications with PHP and PECL, which gathers all the known extensions written in C.

PHP Security

The percentage of insecure software written in PHP, the total of all the flaws in the software listed in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, amounted to: 12% in 2003, 20% in 2004, 28% in 2005, 43% in 2006, 36% in 2007 and 33.8% in the first quarter of 2008 [2].

Most of these vulnerabilities can be exploited by remote or without access to the computer hosting the vulnerable application. The most common failure is due to failure to comply with best practices in programming and vulnerabilities in code written in older versions of PHP.

PHP Management Parameters

PHP allows the passage of parameters from one page to another by three array of variables: $ _GET, $ _POST and $ _SESSION. The first type of parameter is passed through the string that appears in the browser address bar, the second is passed in the background, while the third remains persistent during the session.

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