PHP is an abbreviation for Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a widely used general purpose tool designed for ease of use in web development applications, and can be used to create dynamic web pages. In other words, it is a computer programming language.
PHP is generally used in server applications where the language is used to generate web pages. Because of its ease of use and flexibility it has become a favorite of webmasters and web sites that use PHP are becoming increasingly common.
To be able to use PHP on your web site, you will need to ensure that your web hosting service provides its clients with this feature. It is important to be sure of the version of the PHP script you are using. There are various versions, and compatibility issues are known to exist with certain scripts currently available in the market can run only on the latest version of PHP.
Ideally the web hosting company you are using should offer more that one version of PHP so that compatibility issues can be overcome by simply switching version. Alternatively, you may have to modify or change certain scripts that may have been created for an older version of PHP to enable them to work with the newer versions. This lack of backwards integration has been a major stumbling block in the spread and acceptance of PHP. Because of its rapid growth and development, newer versions have been regularly appearing and each time a new version comes this problem arises. However, since the language has now stabilized, it is expected that this problem will gradually start to fade away and that future versions of PHP will not have this compatibility issue.
When working with PHP it is also important to take the PHP modules into account. Before starting any PHP implementation it is advisable to contact the web hosting service you are using or planning to use, and enquire about the modules that need to be installed. As a matter of fact, if you are thinking of using PHP for your website, it is always better to ensure that the web hosting service is fully equipped to handle PHP before committing any money.
If the web hosting service is not in a position to provide the necessary modules, they must, at the minimum, give you a formal commitment that you will be allowed to install them at a later time, as and when convenient and required by you. Many web hosting companies are hesitant to give this kind of commitment because they fear that it may cause complications with their servers.
Keep in mind that you may not be able to used applications developed on Windows since PHP is based on UNIX. You will also have this problem with Visual Basic, since a PHP server will not be able to support it.
With so many PHP web hosting companies appearing on the market, the competition is fierce and it is at times difficult to decide on which company to go with. There are three important issues you need to consider before taking any decision on a PHP web host. First, ensure that the service has enough bandwidth to meet your needs. Second, there should be enough space available for not just your current needs, but an assurance of additional space being available in the future, when required should be available. And third the hosting package you opt for must have sufficient databases for your web site requirements.