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PHP is a general-purpose scripting language designed for web development in 1995. The full name of the language is PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, although PHP was originally an acronym for Personal Home Page.

In 1994, Rasmus Lerdorf wrote several CGI (Common Gateway Interface) programs, creating a system that he referred to as Personal Home Page Tools, which he offered to other who wanted to use them on their webpages. He then added a system to process forms, which he named Form Interpreter, which were released together as PHP/FI.

There is no indication that he initially intended PHP as a new programming language. Rather, features were added to it as demands suggested. Because it was not designed as a language, the language developed some inconsistencies, particularly in function naming.

The next major progression in what was becoming a full-fledged programming language was in 1997 when the parser was reprogrammed by Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski. Features for new Internet protocols were added and support for the more common commercial databases was included. When PHP 3 was released, its name was changed to PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, generally referenced as PHP. Gutmans and Suraski began a rewrite of the core of PHP, producing an implementation known as the Zend Engine in 1999, which was included in PHP 4.

However, the greatest maturity of PHP was produced with PHP 5, which was on the market for more than eleven years, and is still maintained today. The chief advantage to version 5 was a greater integration of the object-oriented programming paradigm.

During the time that PHP 5 was on the market, several changes were made to it. New tools were added to the language, and PHP interpreters became available on most 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

A lack of enthusiasm for the language came about due to its lack of native Unicode support at the core language level. The development of PHP 6 was designed to rectify this problem. However, due to delays in its development, the project, as initially designed, was abandoned, and a version 5.4 release was prepared, containing fixes to several of the Unicode concerns.

In 2014 and 2015, a major revision to PHP was prepared, placing the language once again among the most powerful. It was decided to skip version 6, and to name this release PHP 7. WordPress-based benchmarks found that PHP 7 offered a 100% increase in performance over the previous version. Its Zend Engine was rewritten as well and named Zend Engine 3. While PHP 7 retained compatibility with version 5, support for some PHP 4 methods were deprecated. PHP 8 is scheduled for 2023 or 2024.

Most of the tools designed for web development are made, at least in part, with PHP. Because of its popularity, a large developer community has evolved around the language. Releases of PHP include free and open-source libraries in source distributions. Developers can write extensions in C, adding functionality to the language, and extensions can be compiled statically into PHP or loaded dynamically at runtime.

PHP development is in the hands of the PHP Group at Zend Technologies, which provides PHP certification to programmers who are able to pass the exam to become certified PHP developers.

PHP is available for free under the PHP License, which includes stipulations that do not qualify under a GNU General Public License.

PHP is a general-purpose scripting language used primarily in server-side web development. When used in web development, PHP usually runs on a web server. PHP code is executed by the PHP runtime to create dynamic web page content. It can be used for command-line scripting and client-side GUI applications. It is supported by most web browsers, operating systems, and platforms. Most web hosts support PHP for their clients. Although it was originally used to create dynamic web pages, its current focus is on server-side scripting.

While PHP scripts are most often used in server-side scripts, they can be run from the command line, or in desktop applications, although it is generally not the most appropriate language to use to create desktop applications with a graphical user interface.

The only complete implementation of PHP is the original, known simply as PHP, and powered by the Zend Engine. In some contexts, it may be known as Zend PHP. Other implementations include HHVM, HipHop, Parrot, Phalanger, and Quercus.

The PHP scripting language and any of its implementations are appropriate for this category, as are any editors or other tools designed to facilitate PHP programming, any user groups, forums, tutorials, or guides.



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