PHP is one of the scripting languages which is most commonly seen used for sites on the world wide web - with PHP you can create a web site which interprets data that you have in different kinds of files and makes a web page dynamically based on your files. For example, you can fill a file with the latest information about your company and the PHP web page will interpret that data to create an HTML file that will display it to the web browser in a certain way. PHP is a relatively easy scripting language to learn and it is an example of server-side scripting - the kind of web scripting where all of the processing takes place on the server before the page is sent to the viewer (in this sense, it is different from client-side scripting, where information is taken from the client and used to construct the page).

The PHP language first appeared in 1995 and its usage has grown over the years to the point that it is now one of the most popular scripting languages on the world wide web. As of early 2008, the most recent version has been released in November 2007. The name PHP is recursive - an acronym for "PHP: Hypertext Processor". Most of the time when a PHP script is used for a page the function of the PHP script is as some kind of "filter" - the PHP script will read the files that you have on your server; these files will contain a combination of plaintext information, data and special commands in the language of the PHP interpreter. When the PHP script is accessed by someone visiting your site the interpreter will be called to run the PHP script and it will output the HTML file which is then passed back to the output from the web site for your web browser to display.

PHP can be used to provide a user interface to any kind of database which is stored on a web server running unix web hosting software, and it is compatible with all of the common database software packages so that you can create a PHP control panel and an entire PHP front end for your web site. The possibilities for what you can do graphically and as far as the processing and presentation of information are not as far reaching as you can get with Flash, but it allows you to take advantage of any kind of web style specifications and HTML based features that you want. For the web designer who wants to be competitive in creating sites for today's market, at least a basic knowledge of the ins and out of PHP is an essential skill.

You can learn about PHP and how to program in it on any one of hundreds of sites on the world wide web - there are plenty of tutorials and forums out there where you can get the answers to any questions which you have about PHP and find out how to design a site which takes full advantage of the data which you have and presents it effectively or ready our guide on building dynamic websites.