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Posted Jan 3, 2002

If Your Web Host Provides PHP and MySQL - Page 10

By Kevin Yank

It would be unfair of me to help you get everything installed and not even give you a taste of what a PHP-driven Web page looks like until Part 3, so here's a little something to whet your appetite.

Open up your favorite text or HTML editor and create a new file called today.php. Note that, to save a file with a .php extension in Notepad, you'll need to either select 'All Files' as the file type, or surround the filename with quotes in the Save As dialog; otherwise, Notepad will helpfully save the file as today.php.txt. Type this into the file:

<title>Today's Date</title>
<p>Today's Date 
(according to this 
  Web server) is

  echo( date("l, F dS Y.") );


If you prefer, you can download this file along with the rest of the code in this article series here.

Save this and place it on your Web site as you would any regular HTML file, then view it in your browser. Note that if you view the file on your own machine, you cannot use the File, Open feature of your browser, because your Web server must intervene to interpret the PHP code in the file. Instead, you must move the file into the document root folder of your Web server software (e.g. C:\inetpub\wwwroot\ in IIS, or C:\Apache Group\Apache\htdocs\ in Apache for Windows), then load it into your browser by typing http://localhost/today.php. This allows the Web server to run the PHP code in the file and replace it with the date before it's sent to the Web browser. If you haven't yet had time to set up PHP on your Web server, click here to see the results on our server.

Pretty neat, huh? If you use the ‘View Source' feature in your browser, all you'll see is a regular HTML file with the date in it. The PHP code (everything between <?php and ?> in the code above) has been interpreted by the Web server and converted to normal text before it's sent to your browser. The beauty of PHP (and other server-side scripting languages) is that the Web browser doesn't have to know anything about it – the Web server does all the work!

And don't worry too much about the exact code I used in this example. Before too long you'll know it like the back of your hand.

If you don't see the date, then something is wrong with the PHP support in your Web server. Use View Source in your browser to look at the code of the page. You'll probably see the PHP code there in the page. Since the browser doesn't understand PHP, it just sees <?php ... ?> as one long, invalid HTML tag, which it ignores. Make sure that PHP support has been properly installed on your Web server, either in accordance with the instructions provided in previous sections of this article, or by your Web host.


You should now have everything you need to get MySQL and PHP installed on your Web Server. If the little example above didn't work right (for example, if the raw PHP code appeared instead of the date), something went wrong with your setup procedure. Drop by the SitePoint.com Forums and we'll be glad to help you figure out the problem!

In Part 2, you'll learn the basics of relational databases and get started working with MySQL. If you've never even touched a database before, I promise you it'll be a real eye opener! Meanwhile, I'd love to hear what you thought of the first part of this series of articles. Drop me a line at kevin@sitepoint.com, or stop by the SitePoint.com Forums to speak your mind.

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