Search /
Advanced search  |  Help  |  Site map
Click for Layer 8! No, really, click NOW!
Networking for Small Business
Heartbleed bug is irritating McAfee, Symantec, Kaspersky Lab
Server makers rushing out Heartbleed patches
6 Social Media Mistakes That Will Kill Your Career
4 Qualities to Look for in a Data Scientist
Big bucks going to universities to solve pressing cybersecurity issues
Mozilla appoints former marketing head to interim CEO
Box patches Heartbleed flaw in its cloud storage systems
Obama administration backs disclosing software vulnerabilities in most cases
6 Amazing Advances in Cloud Technology
Collaboration 2.0: Old meets new
Data breaches nail more US Internet users, regulation support rises
With a Wi-Fi cloud service, Ruckus aims to help hotspot owners make money
How to get Windows Phone 8.1 today
Secure browsers offer alternatives to Chrome, IE and Firefox
10 Big Data startups to watch
Big data drives 47% growth for top 50 public cloud companies
Here are the options with Heartbleed-flawed networking gear (Hint: there aren't many)
Akamai admits its OpenSSL patch was faulty, reissues keys
Second Google Glass user attacked in San Francisco in two months
Microsoft puts the squeeze on Windows to shoehorn it into 16GB devices
An unnecessary path to tech: A Bachelor's degree
Heartbleed Bug hits at heart of many Cisco, Juniper products
iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending April 11

From home pages to popularity

This week we take a break from TCP/IP ports and sashay back into the realm of languages. Our target is PHP, a language that has come a long way from its humble roots as a set of macros for building personal home pages on Web servers. Today, PHP is a server-side scripting language that is officially called PHP: HyperText Preprocessor.

PHP is an amalgam of several languages - much of its syntax is borrowed from C, C++, Java and Perl. What's so great about PHP? Well, the fact that it's free helps (, but there's more: PHP is open source; runs under Win32, Macintosh, Unix and Linux with all leading Web servers; it's easy to learn and use; and the latest version, PHP4, runs as fast as Microsoft's Active Server Pages technology.

PHP4 has become wildly popular and is now a major language in Web scripting. According to the October 2000 NetCraft Web survey, PHP was running in more than 3.8 million domains on 715,283 IP addresses (also see here).

PHP4 has powerful extensions for services such as XML, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and Internet Message Access Protocol and includes direct access for a large number of database products, including Oracle and Informix.

PHP works like many other Web scripting languages - Web pages requested by a browser that contain embedded PHP scripts are parsed on the fly by the PHP interpreter on the server, and the modified page, stripped of the PHP code, is sent to the browser.

The interpreter for the PHP language is the Zend Engine. Created by Zend Technologies, it is licensed to users for free and is also open source. Zend Technologies also recently released a free code optimizer (), which it claims doubles the speed of PHP scripts.

The Zend Engine reads PHP scripts, compiles them and executes the compiled code. Zend Technologies will soon offer a product called Zend Cache, an enhancement to the Zend Engine that capitalizes on the read-compile-execute model by caching an "intermediate" code version of the script to reduce compile time for future executions and to reduce server loading. Pricing is not yet available.

You might want to create commercial products using PHP. Zend Technologies will soon release something called the Zend Encoder (pricing is also not yet available) that encrypts a PHP script by turning it into intermediate code so your algorithmic sleights of hand can be kept private. To run the resulting application you will need the free Zend Loader, which will be invoked whenever an encoded script is run to pass the intermediate code to the Zend Engine.

Next week, we'll take a look at the PHP language. But before we take our leave, we'll mention an interesting news item: The first PHP scripting virus, called PHP.NewWorld, has just been found.

The virus has no payload and seems to only affect Windows systems. And it can't infect other computers; it only infects files of the types .php, .hm, .html or .htt in the c:\windows subdirectory. This virus is easily detected and countered but it illustrates an interesting potential problem for all scripting languages - not just for PHP.

Until next week, speak in tongues to


Comments and suggestions to

Gibbs Forum
The place to discuss Gibbs's columns.

Check out this week's edition of

Backspin for more musings from Gibbs.

NWFusion offers more than 40 FREE technology-specific email newsletters in key network technology areas such as NSM, VPNs, Convergence, Security and more.
Click here to sign up!
New Event - WANs: Optimizing Your Network Now.
Hear from the experts about the innovations that are already starting to shake up the WAN world. Free Network World Technology Tour and Expo in Dallas, San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York.
Attend FREE
Your FREE Network World subscription will also include breaking news and information on wireless, storage, infrastructure, carriers and SPs, enterprise applications, videoconferencing, plus product reviews, technology insiders, management surveys and technology updates - GET IT NOW.