PHP is a server-side scripting language for developing dynamic Web pages and Web-enabled applications. One of PHP's greatest advantages is its cross-platform support of many Unix variants, Linux and Windows. PHP can run as an Apache module or as a native ISAPI extension for IIS and Zeus.
This latest version of PHP is built around Zend Engine, developed by Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski, co-founders of Zend Technologies, Ltd. The Zend Engine restructures how PHP processes code and provides backward compatibility with PHP 3.
The Zend Engine speeds the performance of PHP 4.0.0, making it many times faster than PHP 3. This performance benefit was accomplished by changing the execution paradigm from an execute-while-parsing mode to a compile-then-execute mode.
PHP is one of the most popular solutions currently available for developing dynamic Web sites. It offers connectivity to most common database interfaces (including Oracle, Informix, Sybase, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and ODBC). PHP also offers integration with various external libraries with utilities for everything from generating PDF documents to parsing XML.
"PHP is very widely used, both for Web development and for database-driven applications," Suraski noted in a statement released by Zend.
New features in PHP 4.0.0 include: an extended API module, automatic resource de-allocation, support for the Boolean type, a much smarter and generalized build process, the use of an automake/libtool-based build system, and COM/DCOM support (on Windows only). A complete list of what is new in PHP 4.0.0 can be found on Zend Technologies' site.
Zend Technologies develops and markets Internet infrastructure software programs. In addition to offering proprietary and revenue-generating products, Zend remains committed to the advancement and proliferation of PHP as a freeware, open-source scripting language.
Zend also recently released Zend Optimizer, the first in a series of products for PHP developers. The Zend Optimizer works in conjunction with PHP 4.0.0 and uses multipass code optimizations to double the running speed of PHP 4.0 applications. This is done by running several optimization passes on the code created by the runtime compiler before the code is executed.
PHP 4.0.0 is available for download from the PHP Association's site.