“PHP (recursive acronym for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor”) is a widely-used Open Source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded into HTML.” See www.php.net.
Using PHP is a matter of precision. ASP can be used to reach the same objectives but ASP has proven to us to be less interesting (see some of the reasons below, one of them being the licensing scheme). Where ASP mostly relies on Microsoft web servers technologies, PHP gives the customer the choice of the web server (we advise using Apache, though) and the OS his server will be running on (we advise using Debian Linux for security, stability and licensing reasons). Also, PHP gives the opportunity to anybody to participate in the language evolution by reporting problems (very rare situation), programming new functions librairies or object code or writing documentation on his use of the code (no licence problems).
PHP is cleanly structured and, although it doesn’t rely on object-oriented design, it is currently moving to a more OO structure and has been enabling the programmer to use OO syntax within his projects for a long time.
Within only a few years time, PHP has spread greatly and wisely amongst the world’s web servers as a reliable, fast moving and strong solution (see Netcraft or Zend for more information on PHP’s worldwide use).
Also, as PHP is a free redistributable technology, more and more public IT schools are teaching PHP programmation instead of ASP. This means more PHP programmers will be ready to help soon, avoiding to be stuck with one programmer you can’t see anymore :-) But it also means PHP has a brilliant future and is probably going to spread a lot more in the upcoming years. This will avoid the Cobol problem of having a dead language to maintain with costly programmers.
PHP is widely used in our web developments because it enables a clear, easy to modify and secure development without the hassle of a licence or without knowledge prerequisites others than programming techniques and Web Development logic.
There is plenty of documentation available for free on the net and in plenty of books in many languages.
By developing with PHP, we ensure the customer that he won’t depend on us if he wants to change his code. We study the needs, help him get to the solution going and then leave him gently with a functional and easily modifiable set of scripts, with an offer, but no obligation, of asking us for additional developments or support.
This article was first written in November 2003 for the BeezNest technical website (http://glasnost.beeznest.org/articles/92)