Hwo To Make own Site


“Content is king.” Cliché, yes; but it has never been more true. Once you’ve

mastered HTML and learned a few neat tricks in JavaScript and Dynamic HTML,

you can probably design a pretty impressive-looking Website. But your next task

must be to fill that fancy page layout with some real information. Any site that

successfully attracts repeat visitors has to have fresh and constantly updated

content. In the world of traditional site building, that means HTML files—and

lots of ’em.

The problem is that, more often than not, the people who provide the content

for a site are not the same people who handle its design. Frequently, the content

provider doesn’t even know HTML. How, then, is the content to get from the

provider onto the Website? Not every company can afford to staff a full-time

Webmaster, and most Webmasters have better things to do than copying Word

files into HTML templates, anyway.

Maintenance of a content-driven site can be a real pain, too. Many sites (perhaps

yours?) feel locked into a dry, outdated design because rewriting those hundreds

of HTML files to reflect a new look would take forever. Server-side includes

(SSIs) can help alleviate the burden a little, but you still end up with hundreds

of files that need to be maintained should you wish to make a fundamental change

to your site.

The solution to these headaches is database-driven site design. By achieving

complete separation between your site’s design and the content you want to

present, you can work with each without disturbing the other. Instead of writing

an HTML file for every page of your site, you need only to write a page for each

kind of information you want to be able to present. Instead of endlessly pasting

new content into your tired page layouts, create a simple content management

system that allows the writers to post new content themselves without a lick of


In this book, I’ll provide you with a hands-on look at what’s involved in building

a database-driven Website. We’ll use two tools for this, both of which may be

new to you: the PHP scripting language and the MySQL relational database

management system. If your Web host provides PHP and MySQL support, you’re

in great shape. If not, we’ll be looking at the setup procedures under Linux,

Windows, and Mac OS X, so don’t sweat it.

Who Should Read This Book

This book is aimed at intermediate and advanced Web designers looking to make

the leap into server-side programming. You’ll be expected to be comfortable with

simple HTML, as I’ll make use of it without much in the way of explanation. No

knowledge of JavaScript is assumed or required, but if you do know JavaScript,

you’ll find it will make learning PHP a breeze, since the languages are quite


By the end of this book, you can expect to have a grasp of what’s involved in

setting up and building a database-driven Website. If you follow the examples,

you’ll also learn the basics of PHP (a server-side scripting language that gives you

easy access to a database, and a lot more) and Structured Query Language

(SQL—the standard language for interacting with relational databases) as supported

by MySQL, one of the most popular free database engines available today.

Most importantly, you’ll come away with everything you need to get started on

your very own database-driven site!

What’s In This Book

This book comprises the following 12 chapters. Read them in order from beginning

to end to gain a complete understanding of the subject, or skip around if you

need a refresher on a particular topic.

Chapter 1: Installation

Before you can start building your database-driven Web presence, you must

first ensure that you have the right tools for the job. In this first chapter, I’ll

tell you where to obtain the two essential components you’ll need: the PHP

scripting language and the MySQL database management system. I’ll step

you through the setup procedures on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, and

show you how to test that PHP is operational on your Web server.

Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL

Although I’m sure you’ll be anxious to get started building dynamic Web

pages, I’ll begin with an introduction to databases in general, and the MySQL

relational database management system in particular. If you’ve never worked

with a relational database before, this should definitely be an enlightening

chapter that will whet your appetite for things to come! In the process, we’ll

build up a simple database to be used in later chapters.

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

Here’s where the fun really starts. In this chapter, I’ll introduce you to the

PHP scripting language, which can easily be used to build dynamic Web

pages that present up-to-the-moment information to your visitors. Readers

with previous programming experience will probably be able to get away with

a quick skim of this chapter, as I explain the essentials of the language from

the ground up. This is a must-read chapter for beginners, however, as the

rest of this book relies heavily on the basic concepts presented here.

Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

In this chapter we bring together PHP and MySQL, which you’ll have seen

separately in the previous chapters, to create some of your first databasedriven

Web pages. We’ll explore the basic techniques of using PHP to retrieve

information from a database and display it on the Web in real time. I’ll also

show you how to use PHP to create Web-based forms for adding new entries

to, and modifying existing information in, a MySQL database on-the-fly.

Chapter 5: Relational Database Design

Although we’ll have worked with a very simple sample database in the previous

chapters, most database-driven Websites require the storage of more complex

forms of data than we’ll have dealt with so far. Far too many database-driven

Website designs are abandoned midstream, or are forced to start again from

the beginning, because of mistakes made early on, during the design of the

database structure. In this critical chapter, I’ll teach the essential principles

of good database design, emphasizing the importance of data normalization.

If you don’t know what that means, then this is definitely an important

chapter for you to read!

Chapter 6: A Content Management System

In many ways the climax of the book, this chapter is the big payoff for all

you frustrated site builders who are tired of updating hundreds of pages

whenever you need to make a change to a site’s design. I’ll walk you through

the code for a basic content management system that allows you to manage

a database of jokes, their categories, and their authors. A system like this can

be used to manage simple content on your Website; just a few modifications,

and you’ll have a Web administration system that will have your content

providers submitting content for publication on your site in no time—all

without having to know a shred of HTML!

Chapter 7: Content Formatting and Submission

Just because you’re implementing a nice, easy tool to allow site administrators

to add content to your site without their knowing HTML, doesn’t mean you

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What’s In This Book

have to restrict that content to plain, unformatted text. In this chapter, I’ll

show you some neat tweaks you can make to the page that displays the contents

of your database—tweaks that allow it to incorporate simple formatting

such as bold or italicized text, among other things. I’ll also show you a simple

way safely to make a content submission form directly available to your

content providers, so that they can submit new content directly into your

system for publication, pending an administrator’s approval.

Chapter 8: MySQL Administration

While MySQL is a good, simple database solution for those who don’t need

many frills, it does have some complexities of its own that you’ll need to

understand if you’re going to rely on a MySQL database to store your content.

In this section, I’ll teach you how to perform backups of, and manage access

to, your MySQL database. In addition to a couple of inside tricks (like what

to do if you forget your MySQL password), I’ll explain how to repair a MySQL

database that has become damaged in a server crash.

Chapter 9: Advanced SQL Queries

In Chapter 5 we saw what was involved in modelling complex relationships

between pieces of information in a relational database like MySQL. Although

the theory was quite sound, putting these concepts into practice requires that

you learn a few more tricks of Structured Query Language. In this chapter,

I’ll cover some of the more advanced features of this language to get you

juggling complex data like a pro.

Chapter 10: Binary Data

Some of the most interesting applications of database-driven Web design

include some juggling of binary files. Online file storage services like the nowdefunct

iDrive are prime examples, but even a system as simple as a personal

photo gallery can benefit from storing binary files (e.g. pictures) in a database

for retrieval and management on the fly. In this chapter, I’ll demonstrate

how to speed up your Website by creating static copies of dynamic pages as

regular intervals—using PHP, of course! With these basic file-juggling skills

in hand, we’ll go on to develop a simple online file storage and viewing system

and learn the ins and outs of working with binary data in MySQL.

Chapter 11: Cookies and Sessions in PHP

One of the most hyped new features in PHP 4.0 was built-in support for

sessions. But what are sessions? How are they related to cookies, a long-suffering

technology for preserving stored data on the Web? What makes persistent

data so important in current ecommerce systems and other Web applications?

This chapter answers all those questions by explaining how PHP

xii Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now!


supports both cookies and sessions, and exploring the link between the two.

At the end of this chapter, we’ll develop a simple shopping cart system to

demonstrate their use.

Chapter 12: Structured PHP Programming

Techniques to better structure your code are useful in all but the simplest of

PHP projects. The PHP language offers many facilities to help you do this,

and in this chapter, I’ll explore some of the simple techniques that exist to

keep your code manageable and maintainable. You’ll learn to use include

files to avoid having to write the same code more than once when it’s needed

by many pages of your site; I’ll show you how to write your own functions

to extend the built-in capabilities of PHP and to streamline the code that

appears within your Web pages; we’ll also dabble in the art of defining constants

that control aspects of your Web applications’ functionality. We’ll

then put all these pieces together to build an access control system for your

Website. Its sophisticated structure will ensure that it can be used and reused

on just about any site you decide to build.

The Book’s Website

Located at, the Website supporting

this book will give you access to the following facilities:

The Code Archive

As you progress through the text, you’ll note a number of references to the code

archive. This is a downloadable ZIP archive that contains complete code for all

the examples presented in this book.

Updates and Errata

No book is perfect, and even though this is a third edition, I expect that watchful

readers will be able to spot at least one or two mistakes before its end. Also, PHP

and MySQL (and even the Web in general) are moving targets, constantly undergoing

changes with each new release. The Errata page on the book’s Website will

always have the latest information about known typographical and code errors,

and necessary updates for changes to PHP and MySQL.

Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now! xiii

The Book’s Website

The SitePoint Forums

While I’ve made every attempt to anticipate any questions you may have, and

answer them in this book, there is no way that any book could cover everything

there is to know about PHP and MySQL. If you have a question about anything

in this book, the best place to go for a quick answer is Not only will you find a vibrant and knowledgeable

PHP community, but you’ll occasionally even find me, the author,

there in my spare hours.

The SitePoint Newsletters

In addition to books like this one, I write a free, biweekly (that’s every two weeks)

email newsletter called The SitePoint Tech Times. In it, I write about the latest

news, product releases, trends, tips, and techniques for all technical aspects of

Web development. If nothing else, you’ll get useful PHP articles and tips, but if

you’re interested in learning other languages, you’ll find it especially useful.

SitePoint also publishes a number of other newsletters. The long-running SitePoint

Tribune is a biweekly digest of the business and moneymaking aspects of the Web.

Whether you’re a freelance developer looking for tips to score that dream contract,

or a marketing major striving to keep abreast of changes to the major search engines,

this is the newsletter for you. The SitePoint Design View is a monthly compilation

of the best in Web design. From new CSS layout methods to subtle

PhotoShop techniques, SitePoint’s chief designer shares his years of experience

in its pages.

Browse the archives or sign up to any of SitePoint’s free newsletters at

Your Feedback

If you can’t find your answer through the forums, or you wish to contact me for

any other reason, the best place to write is <>. We have a

well-manned email support system set up to track your inquiries, and if our

support staff is unable to answer your question, they send it straight to me.

Suggestions for improvement as well as notices of any mistakes you may find are

especially welcome.

And now, without further ado, let’s get started!

xiv Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now!


Installation 1

Over the course of this book, it will be my job to guide you as you take your first

steps beyond the HTML world of client-side site design. Together, we’ll explore

what it takes to develop the kind of large, content-driven sites that are so successful

today, but which can be a real headache to maintain if they aren’t built right.

Before we get started, you need to gather together the tools you’ll need for the

job. In this first chapter, I’ll guide you as you download and set up the two software

packages you’ll need: PHP and MySQL.

PHP is a server-side scripting language. You can think of it as a “plug-in” for your

Web server that will allow it to do more than just send plain Web pages when

browsers request them. With PHP installed, your Web server will be able to read

a new kind of file (called a PHP script) that can do things like retrieve up-tothe-

minute information from a database and insert it into a Web page before

sending it to the browser that requested it. PHP is completely free to download

and use.

To retrieve information from a database, you first need to have a database. That’s

where MySQL comes in. MySQL is a relational database management system,

or RDBMS. We’ll get into the exact role it plays and how it works later, but basically

it’s a software package that is very good at the organization and management

of large amounts of information. MySQL also makes that information really

easy to access with server-side scripting languages like PHP. MySQL is released

under the GNU General Public License (GPL), and is thus free for most uses on

all of the platforms it supports. This includes most Unix-based platforms, like

Linux and even Mac OS X, as well as Windows.

If you’re lucky, your current Web host may already have installed MySQL and

PHP on your Web server. If that’s the case, much of this chapter will not apply

to you, and you can skip straight to the section called “If Your Web Host Provides

PHP and MySQL” to make sure your setup is shipshape.

Everything we’ll discuss in this book may be carried out on a Windows- or Unixbased1

server. The installation procedure will differ in accordance with the type

of server you have at your disposal. The next few sections deal with installation

on a Windows-based Web server, installation under Linux, and installation on

Mac OS X. Unless you’re especially curious, you need only read the section that

applies to you.

Windows Installation

Installing MySQL

As I mentioned above, MySQL may be downloaded free of charge. Simply proceed

to and choose the recommended stable release

(as of this writing, it is MySQL 4.0). On the MySQL 4.0 download page, under

the heading Windows downloads, select and download the release that includes

the installer. After downloading the file (it’s about 21MB as of this writing), unzip

it and run the setup.exe program contained therein.

Once installed, MySQL is ready to roll (barring a couple of configuration tasks

that we’ll look at shortly), except for one minor issue that only affects you if

you’re running Windows NT, 2000, XP, or Server 2003. If you use any of those

operating systems, you need to create a file called my.cnf in the root of your C:

drive to indicate where you have installed MySQL.

To create this file, simply open Notepad and type these three lines:


basedir = c:/mysql/

datadir = c:/mysql/data/

1From this point forward, I’ll refer to all Unix-style platforms supported by PHP and MySQL, such

as Linux, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X, with the collective name ‘Linux’.

2 Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now!

Chapter 1: Installation

If you installed MySQL into a directory other than C:\mysql, replace both occurrences

of c:/mysql in the above with the path to which you installed. Notice the

use of forward slashes (/) instead of the usual backslashes (\) in the paths. For

instance, on my system I edited the file to read as follows:


basedir = d:/Program Files/MySQL/

datadir = d:/Program Files/MySQL/data/

Save the file as my.cnf in the root directory of C: drive.

Notepad and File Name Extensions

Notepad is designed to edit text files, which normally have a file name extension

of .txt. When you try to save a file with a different extension (e.g.

my.cnf), Notepad will normally add a .txt extension to the end of the file

name (my.cnf.txt) so that Windows will treat it as a text file.

To prevent this, simply put double quotes around the file name as you enter

it in the Save As dialog box, as shown in  1.1.

 1.1. Save the File As .cnf in Notepad

If you don’t like the idea of a MySQL configuration file sitting in the root of

your C: drive, instead, you can name it my.ini and put it in your Windows directory

(e.g. C:\WINDOWS or C:\WINNT if Windows is installed on drive C:).

MySQL will now run on your Windows NT, 2000, XP, or Server 2003 system!

If you’re using Windows 95, 98, or ME, this step is not necessary—MySQL will

run just fine as installed.

Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now! 3

Installing MySQL

Working with .cnf files in Windows

It just so happens that files ending in .cnf have a special meaning to Windows, so, even

if you have Windows cond to show file extensions, the my.cnf file you created will

still appear as simply my with a special icon. Windows actually expects these files to contain

SpeedDial links for Microsoft NetMeeting.

Assuming you don’t use NetMeeting (or at least, that you don’t use its SpeedDial facility)

you can remove this file type from your system, enabling you to work with these files


1. Open the Windows Registry Editor (in Windows NT, 2000, XP, or Server 2003, click

Start, Run…, and then type regedt32.exe to launch the editor; in Windows 9x/ME

run regedit.exe instead).

2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes branch of the registry,

where you’ll find a list of all the registered file types on the system.

3. Select the .cnf key and choose Edit, Delete from the menu to remove it.

4. Log out and log back in, or restart Windows for the change to take effect.

If you prefer not to mess with the file types on your system, you should still be able to

open the file in Notepad to edit it as needed.

Just like your Web server, MySQL is a program that should be run in the background

so that it may respond to requests for information at any time. The

server program may be found in the bin subfolder of the folder into which you

installed MySQL. However, to complicate matters, several versions of the MySQL

server are available:

mysqld.exe This is the basic version of MySQL if you run Windows

95, 98, or ME. It includes support for all the

advanced features, and includes debug code to provide

additional information in the case of a crash (if your

system is set up to debug programs). As a result of this

code, however, the server might run a little slow, and

generally I’ve found that MySQL is so stable that

crashes aren’t really a concern.

mysqld-opt.exe This version of the server lacks a few of the advanced

features of the basic server, and does not include the

debug code. It’s optimized to run quickly on today’s

processors. For beginners, the advanced features are

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Chapter 1: Installation

not a big concern. You certainly won’t be using them

while you complete the tasks in this book. This is the

version of choice for beginners running Windows 95,

98, or ME.

mysqld-nt.exe This version of the server is compiled and optimized

like mysqld-opt, but is designed to run under Windows

NT, 2000, XP, or Server 2003 as a service. If

you’re using any of those operating systems, this is

probably the server for you.

mysqld-max.exe This version is like mysqld-opt.exe, but contains advanced

features that support transactions. You won’t

need these features in this book.

mysqld-max-nt.exe This version’s similar to mysqld-nt.exe, in that it will

run as a Windows service, but it has the same advanced

features as mysqld-max.exe.

All these versions were installed for you in the bin directory. If you’re running

on Win9x/ME, I recommend you stick with mysql-opt for now—move to mysqldmax

if you ever need the advanced features. On WinNT/2000/XP/2003, mysqldnt

is my recommendation. Upgrade to mysqld-max-nt when you need more advanced


Starting MySQL is also a little different under WinNT/2000/XP/2003, but this

time let’s begin with the procedure for Win9x/ME. Open an MS-DOS Command

Prompt,2 proceed to the MySQL bin directory, and run your chosen server program:


Don’t be surprised when you receive another command prompt. This command

launches the server program so that it runs in the background, even after you

close the command prompt. If you press Ctrl-Alt-Del to pull up the task list, you

should see the MySQL server listed as one of the tasks that’s active on your system.

2If you’re unfamiliar with the workings of the Command Prompt, check out my article Kev’s Command

Prompt Cheat Sheet [] to get familiar with how it works before

you proceed further.

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Installing MySQL

To ensure that the server is started whenever Windows starts, you might want

to create a shortcut to the program and put it in your Startup folder. This is just

like creating a shortcut to any other program on your system.

On WinNT/2000/XP/2003, you must install MySQL as a system service. Fortunately,

this is very easy to do. Simply open a Command Prompt (under Accessories

in the Start Menu) and run your chosen server program with the –install option:

C:\mysql\bin>mysqld-nt –install

Service successfully installed.

This will install MySQL as a service that will be started the next time you reboot

Windows. To start MySQL manually without having to reboot, just type this

command (which can be run from any directory):

C:\>net start mysql

The MySQL service is starting.

The MySQL service was started successfully.

To verify that the MySQL server is running properly, press CtrlAltDel and

open the Task List. If all is well, the server program should be listed on the Processes


Installing PHP

The next step is to install PHP. At the time of this writing, PHP 5.0 has just been

released, with numerous improvements over the previous version; however, PHP

4.3 has become well-established as the version of choice due to its track record

of stability and performance. The procedures for installing these two versions are

nearly identical. Although I’ll focus primarily on installing PHP 5.0 in these pages,

I’ll note any significant differences if you happen to be working with PHP 4.3.

All of the code in this book will work with both versions of PHP.

Download PHP for free from You’ll want

the PHP 5.x zip package under Windows Binaries; avoid the installer version if you


PHP was designed to run as a plug-in for existing Web server software such as

Internet Information Services, Apache, Sambar or OmniHTTPD. To test dynamic

Web pages with PHP, you’ll need to equip your own computer with Web server

software, so that PHP has something to plug into.

6 Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now!

Chapter 1: Installation

If you have Windows 2000, XP Professional3, or Server 2003, then install IIS

(if it’s not already on your system): open Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs

> Add/Remove Windows Components, and select Internet Information Services (IIS)

from the list of components. If you’re not lucky enough to have IIS at your disposal,

4 you can use a free, third-party Web server like Apache instead. I’ll give

instructions for both options in detail.

First, whether or not you have IIS, complete these steps:

1. Unzip the file you downloaded from the PHP Website into a directory of

your choice. I recommend C:\PHP and will refer to this directory from this

point onward, but feel free to choose another directory if you like.

2. Find the file called php5ts.dll in the PHP folder and copy it to the system32

subfolder of your Windows folder (e.g. C:\WINDOWS\system32).

PHP 4.3

The file is called php4ts.dll for PHP 4.3.

3. Find the file called php.ini-dist in the PHP folder and copy it to your

Windows folder. Once it’s there, rename it php.ini.

4. Open the php.ini file in your favorite text editor (use WordPad if Notepad

doesn’t display the file properly). It’s a large file with a lot of confusing options,

but look for a line that begins with extension_dir, and set it so that

it points to the ext subfolder of your PHP folder:

extension_dir = “C:\PHP\ext”

A little further down, you’ll see a bunch of lines beginning with ;extension=.

These are optional extensions, disabled by default. We want to enable the

MySQL extension so that PHP can communicate with MySQL. To do this,

remove the semicolon from the start of the php_mysql.dll line:


3Windows XP Home Edition does not come with IIS.

4A feature-limited edition of IIS called “Personal Web Server” (PWS) was distributed on the Windows

98 Second Edition CD, and was available for earlier editions of Windows as well. While, technically,

PHP can run on PWS, this Web server is somewhat unstable and has a great many known security

holes. For these reasons, I highly recommend using Apache if an up-to-date version of IIS is not

available for your Windows operating system.

Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now! 7

Installing PHP

Even further down, look for a line that starts with session.save_path and

set it to your Windows TEMP folder:

session.save_path = “C:\WINDOWS\Temp”

Save the changes you made and close your text editor.

Now, if you have IIS, follow these instructions:

1. In the Windows Control Panel, open Administrative Tools > Internet Information


2. In the tree view, expand the entry labelled local computer, then under Web

Sites look for Default Web Site (unless you have virtual hosts set up, in which

case, choose the site to which you want to add PHP support). Right-click on

the site and choose Properties.

3. Click the ISAPI Filters tab, and click Add…. In the Filter Name field, type PHP,

and in the Executable field, browse for the file called php5isapi.dll in the

PHP folder. Click OK.

PHP 4.3

For PHP 4.3, the file is called php4isapi.dll, and is located in the

sapi subfolder of your PHP folder.

Can’t click OK?

In older versions of Windows, the OK button may remain disabled even

after you have used the Browse… button to fill in the Executable field.

Simply make a small change to the value of the field using the keyboard

and then reverse it to enable the button.

4. Click the Home Directory tab, and click the Configuration… button. On the

Mappings tab, click Add. Again choose your php5isapi.dll file as the executable

(note that the file type filter in the dialog is set to show .exe files only

by default) and type .php in the extension box (including the .). Leave

everything else unchanged and click OK. If you want your Web server to

treat other file extensions as PHP files (.php3, .php4, and .phtml are common

choices), repeat this step for each extension. Click OK to close the Application

Configuration window.

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Chapter 1: Installation

5. Click the Documents tab, and click the Add… button. Type index.php as

the Default Document Name and click OK. This will ensure that a file called

index.php will be displayed as the default document in a given folder on

your site. You may also want to add entries for index.php3 and index.phtml.

6. Click OK to close the Web Site Properties window. Close the Internet Information

Services window.

7. Again, in the Control Panel under Administrative Tools, open Services. Look

for the World Wide Web Publishing service near the bottom of the list. Rightclick

on it and choose Restart to restart IIS with the new configuration options.

Close the Services window.

8. You’re done! PHP is installed!

If you don’t have IIS, you’ll first need to install some other Web server. For our

purposes, I’ll assume you have downloaded and installed Apache server from; however, PHP can also be installed on Sambar Server[5],

OmniHTTPD[6], and others. I recommend Apache 1.3 for now, but if you want

to use Apache 2.0, be sure to read the following sidebar.



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Installing PHP

PHP and Apache 2.0 in Windows

As of this writing, the PHP team continues to insist that support for PHP on Apache 2.0

is experimental only. There are a number of bugs that arise within PHP when it is run on

an Apache 2.0 server and, on Windows especially, installation can be problematic. That

said, many people (myself included!) are running PHP on Apache 2.0 quite successfully,

and the bugs that do exist probably won’t affect you if you’re just setting up a low-traffic

testing server.

The instructions below apply to both Apache 1.3 and Apache 2.0; however, it is possible

that after configuring Apache 2.0 to use PHP, the server will fail to start. It is also possible

that it will start, but that it will fail to process PHP scripts. In both cases, an error message

should appear when you start Apache and/or in the Apache error log file.

This problem is caused by the fact that Apache 2.0 is a server still very much under development.

With each minor release they put out, they tend to break compatibility with all

server plug-in modules (such as PHP) that were compiled to work with the previous version.

On Linux, this isn’t such a big deal because people tend to compile PHP for themselves,

so they simply recompile PHP at the same time they’re compiling the new release of

Apache and PHP adapts accordingly. Unfortunately, on Windows, where people are used

to simply downloading precompiled files, the situation is different.

The php4apache2.dll file that is distributed with PHP will only work on versions of

Apache 2.0 up to the one that was current at the time that version of PHP was released.

So if you run into problems, the version of PHP you’re using is probably older than the

version of Apache you’re using. This problem can often be fixed by downloading the very

latest version of PHP; however, every time a new release of Apache 2.0 comes out, the

current release of PHP will be incompatible until they get around to updating it.

Should you ever install a later version of Apache and break compatibility with the latest

PHP build, you should be able to download a ‘work-in-progress’ version of PHP and grab

only the files you need (those responsible for the PHP-Apache interface). Information

about doing this can be found in the PHP bug database[7].

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Apache according to the instructions included

with it, open http://localhost/ in your Web browser, to make sure it works

properly. If you don’t see a Web page explaining that Apache was successfully

installed, then either you haven’t yet run Apache, or your installation is faulty.

Check the documentation and make sure Apache is running properly before you

install PHP.

If you’ve made sure Apache is up and running, you can add PHP support:


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Chapter 1: Installation

1. On your Start Menu, choose Programs > Apache HTTP Server > Con

Apache Server > Edit the Apache httpd.conf Configuration File. This will open

the httpd.conf file (choose Notepad if you don’t have a text editor cond

to edit .conf files).

2. All of the options in this long and intimidating configuration file should have

been set up correctly by the Apache install program. All you need to do is

add the following lines to the very bottom of the file:

LoadModule php5_module c:/php/php5apache.dll

AddModule mod_php5.c

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php

AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps

Make sure the LoadModule line points to the appropriate file in the PHP

installation directory on your system, and note the use of forward slashes

(/) instead of backslashes (\).

Apache 2.0

If you’re using Apache 2.0 or later, the LoadModule line needs to point

to php5apache2.dll instead of php5apache.dll, and you must remove

the AddModule line entirely.

PHP 4.3

For PHP 4.3, the file in the LoadModule line is called php4apache.dll

(php4apache2.dll for Apache 2.0) and is located in the sapi subfolder

of your PHP folder.

3. Next, look for the line that begins with DirectoryIndex. This line tells

Apache which file names to use when it looks for the default page for a given

directory. You’ll see the usual index.html and so forth, but you need to add

index.php to that list if it’s not there already:

DirectoryIndex index.html … index.php

4. Save your changes and close Notepad.

5. Restart Apache by restarting the Apache service in Control Panel > Administrative

Tools > Services. If all is well, Apache will start up again without


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Installing PHP

6. You’re done! PHP is installed!

With MySQL and PHP installed, you’re ready to proceed to the section called

“Post-Installation Setup Tasks”.

Linux Installation

This section covers the procedure for installing PHP and MySQL under most

current distributions of Linux. These instructions were tested under Fedora Core

2; however, they should work on other distributions such as Debian, SUSE, and

Mandrake without much trouble. The steps involved will be very similar, if not


As a user of one of the handful of Linux distributions available, you may be

tempted to download and install packaged distributions of PHP and MySQL.

Debian users will be used to installing software using the apt-get utility, while

distributions like Fedora Core tend to rely on RPM packages. These prepackaged

versions of software are really easy to install; unfortunately, they also limit the

software configuration options available to you. If you already have MySQL and

PHP installed in packaged form, feel free to proceed with those versions, and

skip forward to the section called “Post-Installation Setup Tasks”. If you encounter

any problems, you can always return here to uninstall the packaged versions and

reinstall PHP and MySQL by hand.

This section will assume that you have the Apache Web server installed on your

machine already. If you don’t, chances are that your distribution offers an easy

way to install it (I have no objection to your using the packaged distributions of

Apache). I recommend Apache 1.3 over Apache 2.0, as support for Apache 2.0

in PHP is still experimental, but I’ll provide instructions for both versions here.

Building Apache yourself

If you want to compile and install Apache by hand, the necessary downloads

and ample installation instructions may be found at the Apache Website[9].

To support the PHP installation instructions provided below, you will have

to build Apache with shared module support. When you con your copy

of Apache prior to compiling it, make sure you include the –enablemodule=

so option.


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Chapter 1: Installation

Removing Packaged Software

Since many Linux distributions will automatically install PHP and MySQL for

you, your first step should be to remove any old packaged versions of PHP and

MySQL from your system. If one exists, use your distribution’s graphical software

manager to remove all packages with php or mysql in their names.

If your distribution doesn’t have a graphical software manager, or if you didn’t

install a graphical user interface for your server, you can remove these packages

from the command prompt. You’ll need to be logged in as the root user to issue

the commands to do this. Note that in the following commands, shell# represents

the shell prompt, and shouldn’t be typed in.

In Fedora Core, RedHat, or Mandrake, you can use the rpm command-line utility:

shell#rpm -e mysql

shell#rpm -e php

In Debian, you can use apt-get to remove the relevant packages:

shell#apt-get remove mysql-server

shell#apt-get remove mysql-client

shell#apt-get remove php4

shell#apt-get remove php5

If any of these commands tell you that the package in question is not installed,

don’t worry about it unless you know for a fact that it is. In such cases, it will be

necessary for you to remove the offending item by hand. Seek help from an experienced

user if you don’t know how.

If the command(s) for removing PHP completed successfully (i.e. no error message

was displayed), then you have just removed PHP from your Web server, and you

should check that you haven’t broken it in the process. To make sure Apache is

still in working order, you should restart it without the PHP plug-in:

shell#apachectl graceful

If Apache fails to start up, you’ll need to have a look through its configuration

file, which is usually called httpd.conf and may be found in /etc/apache or

/etc/httpd. Look for leftover commands that may be trying to load the PHP

plug-in that you have just removed from the system. The Apache error log files

may be of assistance in tracking these down if you can’t find them. When you’re

finished, try restarting Apache again.

Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now! 13

Removing Packaged Software

With everything neat and tidy, you’re ready to download and install MySQL

and PHP.

Installing MySQL

MySQL is freely available for Linux from

Download the recommended stable release (4.0 as of this writing). You should

grab the Standard version under Linux (x86, libc6) in the Linux downloads section.

Once you’ve downloaded the program (it was about 15MB as of this writing),

you should make sure you’re logged in as root before proceeding with the installation,

unless you want to install MySQL only in your own home directory. To

begin, move to /usr/local (unless you want to install MySQL elsewhere for

some reason) and unpack the downloaded file to create the MySQL directory

(replace version with the full version of your MySQL download to match the

downloaded file name on your system):

shell#cd /usr/local

shell#tar xfz mysql-version.tar.gz

Next, create a symbolic link to the mysql-version directory with the name mysql

to make accessing the directory easier, then enter the directory:

shell#ln -s mysql-version mysql

shell#cd mysql

While you can run the server as the root user, or even as yourself (if, for example,

you installed the server in your own home directory), the best idea is to set up

on the system a special user whose sole purpose is to run the MySQL server. This

will remove any possibility of someone using the MySQL server as a way to break

into the rest of your system. To create a special MySQL user, you’ll need to log

in as root and type the following commands:

shell#groupadd mysql

shell#useradd -g mysql mysql

MySQL is now installed, but before it can do anything useful, its database files

need to be installed, too. In the new mysql directory, type the following command:

shell#scripts/mysql_install_db –user=mysql

By default, MySQL stores all database information in the data subdirectory of

the directory to which it was installed. We want to ensure that nobody can access

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Chapter 1: Installation

that directory except our new MySQL user. Assuming you installed MySQL to

the /usr/local/mysql directory, you can use these commands:

shell#cd /usr/local/mysql

shell#chown -R root .

shell#chown -R mysql data

shell#chgrp -R mysql .

Now everything’s set for you to launch the MySQL server for the first time. From

the MySQL directory, type the following command:

shell#bin/mysqld_safe –user=mysql &


Prior to MySQL 4.0, the mysqld_safe script was called safe_mysqld. If

you happen to be installing an old version of MySQL, you’ll have to use that

file name instead.

If you see the message mysql daemon ended, then the MySQL server was prevented

from starting. The error message should have been written to a file called

hostname.err (where hostname is your machine’s host name) in MySQL’s data

directory. You’ll usually find that this happens because another MySQL server

is already running on your computer.

If the MySQL server was launched without complaint, the server will run (just

like your Web or FTP server) until your computer is shut down. To test that the

server is running properly, type the following command:

shell#bin/mysqladmin -u root status

A little blurb with some statistics about the MySQL server should be displayed.

If you receive an error message, something has gone wrong. Again, check the

hostname.err file to see if the MySQL server output an error message while

starting up. If you retrace your steps to make sure you followed the process described

above, and this doesn’t solve the problem, a post to the SitePoint Forums[

11] will help you pin it down in no time.

If you want your MySQL server to run automatically whenever the system is

running (just like your Web server probably does), you’ll have to set it up to do

so. In the support-files subdirectory of the MySQL directory, you’ll find a


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Installing MySQL

script called mysql.server that can be added to your system startup routines to

do this. Let me show you how.

First of all, assuming you’ve set up a special MySQL user to run the MySQL

server, you’ll need to tell the MySQL server to start as that user by default. To

do this, create in your system’s /etc directory a file called my.cnf that contains

these two lines:



Now, when you run safe_mysqld or mysql.server to start the MySQL server,

it will launch as user mysql automatically. You can test this by stopping MySQL,

then running mysql.server with the start argument:

shell#bin/mysqladmin -u root shutdown

shell#support-files/mysql.server start

Request the server’s status using mysqladmin as before, to make sure it’s running


All that’s left to do is to set up your system to run mysql.server automatically

at startup (to launch the server) and at shutdown (to terminate the server). This

is a highly operating system-dependant task. If you’re not sure how to do it, you’d

be best to ask someone who is. The following commands, however, will do the

trick for most versions of Linux:

shell#cp /usr/local/mysql/support-files/mysql.server /etc/init.d/

shell#cd /etc/rc2.d

shell#ln -s ../init.d/mysql.server S99mysql

shell#cd /etc/rc3.d

shell#ln -s ../init.d/mysql.server S99mysql

shell#cd /etc/rc5.d

shell#ln -s ../init.d/mysql.server S99mysql

shell#cd /etc/rc0.d

shell#ln -s ../init.d/mysql.server K01mysql

That’s it! To test that this works, reboot your system and request the status of

the server as before.

One final thing you might like to do for the sake of convenience is to place the

MySQL client programs, which you’ll use to administer your MySQL server later

on, in the system path. To this end, you can place symbolic links to mysql,

mysqladmin, and mysqldump in your /usr/local/bin directory:

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Chapter 1: Installation

shell#ln -s /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql /usr/local/bin/mysql

shell#ln -s /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysqladmin


shell#ln -s /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysqldump


Installing PHP

As mentioned above, PHP is not really a program in and of itself. Instead, it’s a

plug-in module for your Web server (probably Apache). There are actually three

ways to install the PHP plug-in for Apache:

_ As a CGI program that Apache runs every time it needs to process a PHPenhanced

Web page

_ As an Apache module compiled right into the Apache program

_ As an Apache module loaded by Apache each time it starts up

The first option is the easiest to install and set up, but it requires Apache to

launch PHP as a program on your computer every time a PHP page is requested.

This activity can really slow down the response time of your Web server, especially

if more than one request needs to be processed at a time.

The second and third options are almost identical in terms of performance, but

since you’re likely to have Apache installed already, you’d probably prefer to

avoid having to download, recompile, and reinstall it from scratch. For this reason,

we’ll use the third option.

To start, download the PHP Complete Source Code package from At the time of this writing, PHP 4 has become

well-established as the version of choice; however, the newly released PHP 5 is

gaining ground quickly. I’ll be covering the installation of PHP 5.0 here, but the

same steps should work just as well with PHP 4.

The file you downloaded should be called php-version.tar.gz. To begin, we’ll

extract the files it contains (the shell% prompt is included to represent that you

can run these steps without being logged in as root):

shell%tar xfz php-version.tar.gz

shell%cd php-version

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Installing PHP

To install PHP as a loadable Apache module, you’ll need the Apache apxs program.

This comes with most versions of Apache (both versions 1.3 and 2.0), but

if you’re using the copy that was installed with your distribution of Linux, you

may need to install the “Apache development” package to access Apache apxs.

You should be able to install this package by the means provided by your software

distribution. For example, on Debian Linux, you can use apt-get to install it as

follows (you’ll have to log in as root first):

shell#apt-get install apache-dev

By default, Fedora Core, RedHat, and Mandrake will install the program as

/usr/sbin/apxs, so if you see this file, you know it’s installed. If you’ve installed

Apache by hand, it will probably be /usr/local/apache/bin/apxs.

For the rest of the install procedure, you’ll need to be logged in as the root user

so you can make changes to the Apache configuration files.

The next step is to con the PHP installation program by telling it which

options you want to enable, and where it should find the programs it needs to

know about (such as Apache and MySQL). Unless you know exactly what you’re

doing, simply type the command like this (all on one line):

shell#./con –prefix=/usr/local/php




Replace /usr/sbin/apxs and /usr/local/mysql with the location of your apxs

program and the base directory of your MySQL installation, respectively.

Apache 2.0

If you’re using Apache 2.0 or later, you need to type –with-apxs2=… instead

of –with-apxs=… to enable support for Apache 2.0. As of this writing,

this support is still experimental and is not recommended for production

sites. As a result of the ongoing work on this front, you may need to download

the latest pre-release (unstable) version of PHP to get it working with the

latest release of Apache 2.0, but it’s worth trying the stable release version


For full instructions on how to download the latest pre-release version of

PHP, see

Again, check for any error messages and install any files it identifies as missing.

On Mandrake 8.0, for example, it complained that the lex command wasn’t

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Chapter 1: Installation

found. I searched for “lex” in the Mandrake package list and it came up with

flex, which it described as a program for matching patterns of text used in many

programs’ build processes. Once that was installed, the configuration process

went without a hitch. After you watch several screens of tests scroll by, you’ll be

returned to the command prompt. The following two commands will compile

and then install PHP. Take a coffee break: this will take some time.


shell#make install

Upon completion of make install, PHP is installed in /usr/local/php (unless

you specified a different directory with the –prefix option of the con

script above), with one important exception—its configuration file, php.ini.

PHP comes with two sample php.ini files called php.ini-dist and php.inirecommended.

Copy these files from your installation work directory to the

/usr/local/php/lib directory, then make a copy of the php.ini-dist file and

call it php.ini:

shell#cp php.ini* /usr/local/php/lib/

shell#cd /usr/local/php/lib

shell#cp php.ini-dist php.ini

You may now delete the directory from which you compiled PHP—it’s no longer


We’ll worry about fine-tuning php.ini shortly. For now, we need to tweak

Apache’s configuration to make it more PHP-friendly. Open your Apache httpd.

conf configuration file (usually under /etc/apache/ or /etc/httpd/ if

you’re using your Linux distribution’s copy of Apache) in your favorite text editor.

Next, look for the line that begins with DirectoryIndex. In certain distributions,

this may be in a separate file called commonhttpd.conf. This line tells Apache

which file names to use when it looks for the default page for a given directory.

You’ll see the usual index.html, but you need to add index.php to the list if it’s

not there already:

DirectoryIndex index.html index.php

Finally, go right to the bottom of the file (again, this should go in commonhttpd.

conf if you have such a file) and add these lines to tell Apache which file

extensions should be seen as PHP files:

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php

AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps

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Installing PHP

That should do it! Save your changes and restart your Apache server. If all things

go according to plan, Apache should start up without any error messages. If you

run into any trouble, the helpful folks in the SitePoint Forums[14] (myself included)

will be happy to help.

Mac OS X Installation

As of version 10.2 (Jaguar), Mac OS X distinguishes itself by being the only

consumer OS to install both Apache and PHP as components of every standard

installation. That said, the version of PHP provided is a little out-of-date, and

you’ll need to install the MySQL database as well.

In this section, I’ll briefly cover what’s involved in setting up up-to-date versions

of PHP and MySQL on Mac OS X. Before doing that, however, I’ll ask you to

make sure that the Apache Web server built into your Mac OS X installation is


1. Click to pull down the Apple menu.

2. Choose System Preferences from the menu.

3. Select Sharing from the System Preferences panel.

4. If the Sharing preference panel says Web Sharing Off, click the Start button

to launch the Apache Web server.

5. Exit the System Preferences program.

With this procedure complete, Apache will automatically be run at startup on

your system from now on. You’re now ready to enhance this server by installing

PHP and MySQL!

Installing MySQL

Apple maintains a fairly comprehensive guide to installing MySQL on Mac OS

X on its Mac OS X Internet Developer site[15] if you want to get your hands

dirty and compile MySQL yourself. It is much easier, however, to obtain the

precompiled binary version directly from the MySQL Website, and follow the

installation instructions in the MySQL manual. In this section, I’ll attempt to



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Chapter 1: Installation

boil down this information to the essentials to help you get started as quickly as


First of all, if you happen to be running Mac OS X Server, MySQL is already

installed for you. You can run Applications/Utilities/MySQL Manager to access

it. More likely, however, you are using the client version of Mac OS X.

To install MySQL on the client version of Mac OS X, begin by going to and selecting the latest production release of

MySQL (4.0 as of this writing). Scroll down to the Mac OS X downloads section,

then select and download the Installer package version for your operating system.

You’ll have a choice of the Standard, Max, and Debug releases; choose the Standard

release unless you have a special reason for choosing one of the others.

Once you’ve downloaded the mysql-standard-version-apple-darwinversion

powerpc.dmg file, double-click it to mount the disk image if your browser

hasn’t already done this for you. Inside it, you’ll find the installer in .pkg format,

as well as a MySQLStartupItem.pkg file. Double-click the installer, which will

guide you through the installation of MySQL.

Once MySQL is installed, you can launch the MySQL server by opening a Terminal

window and typing this command:

shell%sudo /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysqld_safe

Enter the administrator password if prompted. Once MySQL is running, you can

switch it to background execution by typing CtrlZ to suspend it, and typing this



You can then close the Terminal window and MySQL will continue to run as a

server on your system.

Presumably, you’ll want your system automatically to launch the MySQL server

at startup so that you don’t have to repeat the above process whenever you restart

your system. To do this, simply double-click the MySQLStartupItem.pkg file and

follow the instructions.

When you’re done, you can safely drag the mounted drive for the MySQL installation

package to the trash, then delete the .dmg file.

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Installing MySQL

Installing PHP

As with MySQL, a Mac OS X version of PHP is not available from the official

Website, but from a third party. Again, Apple also maintains a Web page detailing

the installation procedure[17], although in this case it is somewhat out of date.

A better source of information is,

where you can download an installer package in the form of a disk image.

The latest version of PHP available for Mac OS X 10.2 is PHP 4.3.4. More recent

versions of PHP (up to 5.0.1 as of this writing) are available for Mac OS X 10.3

or later only. Select the version that is right for your system and download it.

If your browser doesn’t do it for you, mount the disk image by double-clicking

the Entropy-PHP-version.dmg file, then double-click the installer .pkg file it

contains. Simply follow the instructions, and PHP will be installed on your

server. That’s all there is to it!

Mac OS X and Linux

Because Mac OS X is based on the BSD operating system, much of its internals

work just like any other Unix-like OS (e.g. Linux). From this point forward,

owners of Mac OS X servers can follow the instructions provided for Unix/Linux

systems unless otherwise indicated. No separate instructions are provided for

Mac OS X unless they differ from those for other Unix-like systems.

Post-Installation Setup Tasks

No matter which operating system you’re running, once PHP is installed and the

MySQL server is in operation, the very first thing you need to do is assign a root

password for MySQL. MySQL allows authorized users only to view and manipulate

the information stored in its databases, so you’ll need to tell MySQL who

is an authorized user, and who isn’t. When MySQL is first installed, it’s cond

with a user named root that has access to do pretty much anything without even

entering a password. Your first task should be to assign a password to the root

user so that unauthorized users can’t tamper with your databases.


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Chapter 1: Installation

Why should I bother?

It’s important to realize that MySQL, just like a Web server or an FTP

server, can be accessed from any computer on the same network. If you’re

working on a computer connected to the Internet, then, depending on your

security measures, that means anyone in the world could try to connect to

your MySQL server! The need to pick a hard-to-guess password should be

immediately obvious!

To set a root password for MySQL, open a command prompt (or Terminal window)

and type the following command in the bin directory of your MySQL installation:

mysql -u root mysql

This command connects you to your newly-installed MySQL server as the root

user, and chooses the mysql database. After a few lines of introductory text, you

should see the MySQL command prompt (mysql>). To assign a password to the

root user, type the following two commands (pressing Enter after each one):

mysql>UPDATE mysql.user SET Password=PASSWORD(“new password“)

->WHERE User=”root”;

Query OK, 2 rows affected (0.12 sec)

Rows matched: 2 Changed: 2 Warnings: 0


Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.24 sec)

Be sure to replace new password with the password you want to assign to your

root user.

With that done, disconnect from MySQL with the quit command:



Now, to try out your new password, request that the MySQL server tell you its

current status at the system command prompt:

mysqladmin -u root -p status

Enter your new password when prompted. You should see a brief message that

provides information about the server and its current status. The -u root argument

tells the program that you want to be identified as the MySQL user called

root. The -p argument tells the program to prompt you for your password before

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Post-Installation Setup Tasks

it tries to connect. The status argument just tells it that you’re interested in

viewing the system status.

If at any time you want to shut down the MySQL server, you can use the command

below. Notice the same -u root and -p arguments as before:

mysqladmin -u root -p shutdown

With your MySQL database system safe from intrusion, all that’s left is to con

PHP. To do this, we’ll use a text file called php.ini. If you installed PHP

under Windows, you should already have copied php.ini into your Windows

directory. If you installed PHP under Linux using the instructions above, you

should already have copied php.ini into the PHP lib folder (/usr/local/

php/lib), or wherever you chose to put it. The Mac OS X installation program

will have placed the file in /usr/local/php/lib for you automatically.

Open php.ini in your favorite text editor and have a glance through it. Most of

the settings are fairly well explained, and most of the default settings are fine for

our purposes. Just check to make sure that your settings match these:

register_globals = Off

magic_quotes_gpc = On5

extension_dir = the directory where you installed PHP6

Save the changes to php.ini, and then restart your Web server. To restart Apache

under Linux (or Mac OS X), log in as root and type this command:

shell#apachectl graceful

You’re done! Now, you just need to test to make sure everything’s working (see

the section called “Your First PHP Script”).

5PHP experts may tell you that you’ll achieve better performance with it set to Off, but that setting

exposes you to hackers attempting SQL injection attacks on your Website if you are not very careful

to write scripts that protect themselves from such malicious behavior. Until you fully understand

PHP and the types of security issues that scripts must combat, leave this setting On.

6Usually c:\php on Windows, and /usr/local/php on Linux.

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Chapter 1: Installation

If Your Web Host Provides PHP and


If the host that provides you with Web space has already installed and set up

MySQL and PHP for you, and you just want to learn how to use them, there

really isn’t a lot you need to do. Now would be a good time to get in touch with

your host and request any information you may need to access these services.

Specifically, you’ll need a user name and password to access the MySQL server

they’ve set up for you. They’ll probably also have provided an empty database

for your use, which prevents you from interfering with the databases of other

users who share the same MySQL server, and you’ll want to know the name of

your database.

There are two ways you can access the MySQL server directly. Firstly, you can

use telnet or secure shell (SSH) to log in to the host. You can then use the MySQL

client programs (mysql, mysqladmin, mysqldump) installed there to interact with

the MySQL server directly. The second method is to install those client programs

onto your own computer, and have them connect to your host’s MySQL server.

Your Web host may support one, both, or neither of these methods, so you’ll

need to ask.

If your host allows you to log in by telnet or SSH to do your work, you’ll need

a user name and password for the login, in addition to those you’ll use to access

the MySQL server (they can be different). Be sure to ask for both sets of information.

If they support direct access to the MySQL server, you’ll want to download a

program that lets you connect to, and interact with, the server. This book assumes

you’ve downloaded from a binary distribution of MySQL

that includes the three client programs (mysql, mysqladmin, and mysqldump).

Free packages are available for Windows, Linux and other operating systems.

Installation basically consists of finding the three programs and putting them in

a convenient place. The rest of the package, which includes the MySQL server,

can be freely discarded. If you prefer a more graphical interface, download

something like MySQL Control Center[20]. I’d recommend getting comfortable

with the basic client programs first, though, as the commands you use with them


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If Your Web Host Provides PHP and MySQL

will be similar to those you’ll include in your PHP scripts to access MySQL


Many less expensive Web hosts support neither telnet/SSH access, nor direct

access to their MySQL servers. Instead, they normally provide a management

console that allows you to browse and edit your database through your Web

browser (though some actually expect you to install one yourself, which I’ll cover

briefly in Chapter 2). Although this is a fairly convenient and not overly restrictive

solution, it doesn’t help you learn. Instead, I’d recommend you install a MySQL

server on your own system for experimentation, especially in the next chapter.

Once you’re comfortable working with your learning server, you can start using

the server provided by your Web host with the Web-based management console.

See the previous sections for instructions on installing MySQL under Windows,

Linux, and Mac OS X.

Your First PHP Script

It would be unfair of me to help you get everything installed and not even give

you a taste of what a PHP-driven Web page looks like until Chapter 3, so here’s

a little something to whet your appetite.

Open your favorite text or HTML editor and create a new file called today.php.

Windows users should note that, to save a file with a .php extension in Notepad,

you’ll need to either select All Files as the file type, or surround the file name

with quotes in the Save As dialogue; otherwise, Notepad will helpfully save the

file as today.php.txt, which won’t work (see the note earlier in this chapter for

more information). Mac OS users are advised not to use TextEdit to edit .php

files, as it saves them in Rich Text Format with an invisible .rtf file name extension.

Learn to use the vi editor in a Terminal window or obtain an editor that

can save .php files as plain text.

Whichever editor you use, type this into the file:

File: today.php

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Today’s Date</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />


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Chapter 1: Installation


<p>Today’s Date (according to this Web server) is


echo date(‘l, F dS Y.’);




If you prefer, you can download this file, which, along with the rest of the code

in this book, is contained in the code archive. See the Preface for details on how

to download the archive.

Save the file, and place it on your Website as you would any regular HTML file,

then view it in your browser. Note that if you view the file on your own machine,

you cannot use the File > Open… feature of your browser, because your Web

server must intervene to interpret the PHP code in the file. Instead, you must

move the file into the root document folder of your Web server software (e.g.

C:\inetpub\wwwroot\ in IIS, or C:\Program Files\Apache

Group\Apache\htdocs\ in Apache for Windows), then load it into your browser

by typing http://localhost/today.php. This process allows the Web server to run

the PHP code in the file and replace it with the date before it’s sent to the Web

browser.  1.2 shows what the output should look like.

 1.2. See your first PHP script in action!

Pretty neat, huh? If you use the View Source feature in your browser, all you’ll

see is a regular HTML file with the date in it. The PHP code (everything between

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Your First PHP Script

<?php and ?> in the code above) was interpreted by the Web server and converted

to normal text before it was sent to your browser. The beauty of PHP, and other

server-side scripting languages, is that the Web browser doesn’t have to know

anything about it — the Web server does all the work!

Don’t worry too much about the exact code I used in this example. Before too

long you’ll know it like the back of your hand.

If you don’t see the date, then something is wrong with the PHP support on your

Web server. Use View Source in your browser to look at the code of the page.

You’ll probably see the PHP code there in the page. Since the browser doesn’t

understand PHP, it just sees <?php … ?> as one long, invalid HTML tag, which

it ignores. Make sure that PHP support has been properly installed on your Web

server, either in accordance with the instructions provided in previous sections

of this chapter, or by your Web host.


You should now have everything you need to install MySQL and PHP on your

Web Server. If the little example above didn’t work (for example, if the raw PHP

code appeared instead of the date), something went wrong with your setup procedure.

Drop by the SitePoint Forums[22] and we’ll be glad to help you

out the problem!

In Chapter 2, you’ll learn the basics of relational databases and get started

working with MySQL. If you’ve never even touched a database before, I promise

you it’ll be a real eye-opener!


28 Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now!

Chapter 1: Installation

Getting Started with MySQL 2

In Chapter 1, we installed and set up two software programs: PHP and MySQL.

In this chapter, we’ll learn how to work with MySQL databases using Structured

Query Language (SQL).

An Introduction to Databases

As I’ve already explained, PHP is a server-side scripting language that lets you

insert into your Web pages instructions that your Web server software (be it

Apache, IIS, or whatever) will execute before it sends those pages to browsers

that request them. In a brief example, I showed how it was possible to insert the

current date into a Web page every time it was requested.

Now, that’s all well and good, but things really get interesting when a database

is added to the mix. A database server (in our case, MySQL) is a program that

can store large amounts of information in an organized format that’s easily accessible

through scripting languages like PHP. For example, you could tell PHP

to look in the database for a list of jokes that you’d like to appear on your Website.

In this example, the jokes would be stored entirely in the database. The advantages

of this approach would be twofold. First, instead of having to write an HTML

file for each of your jokes, you could write a single PHP file that was designed to

fetch any joke from the database and display it. Second, adding a joke to your

Website would be a simple matter of inserting the joke into the database. The

PHP code would take care of the rest, automatically displaying the new joke

along with the others when it fetched the list from the database.

Let’s run with this example as we look at how data is stored in a database. A

database is composed of one or more tables, each of which contains a list of

things. For our joke database, we’d probably start with a table called joke that

would contain a list of jokes. Each table in a database has one or more columns,

or fields. Each column holds a certain piece of information about each item in

the table. In our example, our joke table might have one column for the text of

the jokes, and another for the dates on which the jokes were added to the database.

Each joke stored in this way would then be said to be a row in the table.

These rows and columns form a table that looks like  2.1.

 2.1. The structure of a typical database table includes rows

and columns.

Notice that, in addition to columns for the joke text (joketext) and the date of

the joke (jokedate), I included a column named id. As a matter of good design,

a database table should always provide a means by which we can identify each

of its rows uniquely. Since it’s possible that a single joke could be entered more

than once on the same date, the joketext and jokedate columns can’t be relied

upon to tell all the jokes apart. The function of the id column, therefore, is to

assign a unique number to each joke so that we have an easy way to refer to them

and to keep track of which joke is which. Such database design issues will be

covered in greater depth in Chapter 5.

So, to review, the above is a three-column table with two rows, or entries. Each

row in the table contains three fields, one for each column in the table: the joke’s

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Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL

ID, its text, and the date of the joke. With this basic terminology under our belts,

we’re ready to get started with MySQL.

Logging On to MySQL

The standard interface for working with MySQL databases is to connect to the

MySQL server software (which you set up in Chapter 1) and type commands

one at a time. To make this connection to the server, you’ll need the MySQL

client program. If you installed the MySQL server software yourself, either under

Windows or some brand of UNIX, this program will have been installed in the

same location as the server program. Under Linux, for example, the program is

called mysql and is located by default in the /usr/local/mysql/bin directory.

Under Windows, the program is called mysql.exe and is located by default in

the C:\mysql\bin directory.

If you didn’t set up the MySQL server yourself (if, for example, you’re working

on your Web host’s MySQL server), there are two ways to connect to the MySQL

server. The first is to use Telnet or a Secure Shell (SSH) connection to log into

your Web host’s server, then run mysql from there. The second is to download

the MySQL client software from (available free for Windows

and Linux), install it on your own computer, and use it to connect to the

MySQL server over the Internet. Both methods work well, and your Web host

may support one, the other, or both—you’ll need to ask.

No shell? No direct connection? No problem!

Many Web hosts do not allow direct access to their MySQL servers over the

Internet for security reasons. If your host has adopted this policy (you’ll have

to ask them if you’re not sure), installing the MySQL client software on your

own computer won’t do you any good. Instead, you’ll need to install a Webbased

MySQL administration script onto your site. phpMyAdmin[2] is the

most popular script available; indeed, many Web hosts will con your

account with a copy of phpMyAdmin.

While Web-based MySQL administration systems provide a convenient,

graphical interface for working with your MySQL databases, it is still important

to learn the basics of MySQL’s command-line interface. The commands

you use in this interface are the very same commands you’ll have to include

in your PHP code later in this book. I therefore recommend going back to

Chapter 1 and installing MySQL on your own computer so you can complete


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Logging On to MySQL

the exercises in this chapter before you get comfortable with your Web-based

administration interface.

Whichever method and operating system you use, you’ll end up at a command

prompt, ready to run the MySQL client program and connect to your MySQL

server. Here’s what you should type:

mysql -h hostname –u username -p

You need to replace hostname with the host name or IP address of the computer

on which the MySQL server is running. If the client program is run on the same

computer as the server, you would use -h localhost or –h, but in

this special case you can actually leave off this part of the command entirely.

username should be your MySQL user name. If you installed the MySQL server

yourself, this will just be root. If you’re using your Web host’s MySQL server,

this should be the MySQL user name the host assigned you.

The -p argument tells the program to prompt you for your password, which it

should do as soon as you enter the command above. If you set up the MySQL

server yourself, this password is the root password you chose in Chapter 1. If

you’re using your Web host’s MySQL server, this should be the MySQL password

the host gave you.

If you typed everything correctly, the MySQL client program will introduce itself

and dump you on the MySQL command prompt:


The MySQL server can actually keep track of more than one database. This allows

a Web host to set up a single MySQL server for use by several of its subscribers,

for example. So, your next step should be to choose a database with which to

work. First, let’s retrieve a list of databases on the current server. Type this

command (don’t forget the semicolon!) and press Enter.


MySQL will show you a list of the databases on the server. If you’re working on

a brand new server (i.e. if you installed the server yourself in Chapter 1), the list

should look like this:


| Database |


| mysql |

| test |

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Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL


2 rows in set (0.11 sec)

The MySQL server uses the first database, named mysql, to keep track of users,

their passwords, and what they’re allowed to do. We’ll steer clear of this database

for now, though we will revisit it in Chapter 8, when we discuss MySQL Administration.

The second database, named test, is a sample database. You can actually

get rid of this database. I won’t be referring to it in this book, and we’ll create

our own example database momentarily. Deleting something in MySQL is called

“dropping” it, and the command for doing so is appropriately named:

mysql>DROP DATABASE test;

If you type this command and press Enter, MySQL will obediently delete the

database, displaying “Query OK” in confirmation. Notice that you’re not

prompted with any kind of “Are you sure?” message. You have to be very careful

to type your commands correctly in MySQL because, as this example shows, you

can obliterate your entire database—along with all the information it contains—

with a single command!

Before we go any further, let’s learn a couple of things about the MySQL command

prompt. As you may have noticed, all commands in MySQL are terminated

by a semicolon (;). If you forget the semicolon, MySQL will think you haven’t

finished typing your command, and will let you continue to type on another line:



MySQL shows that it’s waiting for you to type more of your command by changing

the prompt from mysql> to ->. This handy functionality allows you to spread

long commands over several lines.

If you get halfway through a command and realize that you made a mistake early

on, you may want to cancel the current command entirely and start over from

scratch. To do this, type \c and press Enter:



MySQL will ignore completely the command you had begun to type and will return

to the prompt to await another command.

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Logging On to MySQL

Finally, if at any time you want to exit the MySQL client program, just type quit

or exit (either will work). This is the only command that doesn’t need a semicolon,

but you can use one if you want to.



So, What’s SQL?

The set of commands we’ll use to direct MySQL throughout the rest of this book

is part of a standard called Structured Query Language, or SQL (pronounced

either “sequel” or “ess-cue-ell”—take your pick). Commands in SQL are also referred

to as queries (I’ll use these two terms interchangeably).

SQL is the standard language for interacting with most databases, so, even if you

move from MySQL to a database like Microsoft SQL Server in the future, you’ll

find that most of the commands are identical. It’s important that you understand

the distinction between SQL and MySQL. MySQL is the database server software

that you’re using. SQL is the language that you use to interact with that database.

Creating a Database

Those who are working on their Web host’s MySQL server are likely already to

have been assigned a database with which to work. Sit tight; we’ll get back to

you in a moment. If you’re running a MySQL server that you installed yourself,

however, you’ll need to create your own database. It’s just as easy to create a

database as it is to delete one:


I chose to name the database ijdb, for Internet Joke Database, because that fits

with the example we’re using. Feel free to give the database any name you like,

though. Those of you working on your Web host’s MySQL server will probably

have no choice in what to name your database, as it will probably already have

been created for you.

Now that we have a database, we need to tell MySQL that we want to use it.

Again, the command isn’t difficult to remember:

mysql>USE ijdb;

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Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL

You’re now ready to use your database. Since a database is empty until you add

some tables to it, our first order of business will be to create a table that will hold

our jokes.

Creating a Table

The SQL commands we’ve encountered so far have been reasonably simple, but

as tables are so flexible, it takes a more complicated command to create them.

The basic form of the command is as follows:

mysql>CREATE TABLE table_name (

-> column_1_name column_1_type column_1_details,

-> column_2_name column_2_type column_2_details,



Let’s return to our example joke table. Recall that it had three columns: id (a

number), joketext (the text of the joke), and jokedate (the date on which the

joke was entered). The command to create this table is as follows:

mysql>CREATE TABLE joke (


-> joketext TEXT,

-> jokedate DATE NOT NULL


It looks pretty scary, huh? Let’s break it down:

_ The first line is fairly simple; it says that we want to create a new table named


_ The second line says that we want a column called id that will contain an

integer (INT), that is, a whole number. The rest of this line deals with special

details for the column. First, this column is not allowed to be left blank (NOT

NULL). Next, if we don’t specify any value in particular when we add a new

entry to the table, we want MySQL to pick a value that is one more than the

highest value in the table so far (AUTO_INCREMENT). Finally, this column is to

act as a unique identifier for the entries in the table, so all values in this column

must be unique (PRIMARY KEY).

_ The third line is super-simple; it says that we want a column called joketext,

which will contain text (TEXT).

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Creating a Table

_ The fourth line defines our last column, called jokedate, which will contain

data of type DATE, and which cannot be left blank (NOT NULL).

Note that, while you’re free to type your SQL commands in upper– or lowercase,

a MySQL server running on a UNIX-based system will be case-sensitive when it

comes to database and table names, as these correspond to directories and files

in the MySQL data directory. Otherwise, MySQL is completely case-insensitive,

but for one exception: table, column, and other names must be spelled exactly

the same when they’re used more than once in the same command.

Note also that we assigned a specific type of data to each column we created. id

will contain integers, joketext will contain text, and jokedate will contain dates.

MySQL requires you to specify in advance a data type for each column. Not only

does this help keep your data organized, but it allows you to compare the values

within a column in powerful ways, as we’ll see later. For a complete list of supported

MySQL data types, see Appendix C.

Now, if you typed the above command correctly, MySQL will respond with Query

OK, and your first table will be created. If you made a typing mistake, MySQL

will tell you there was a problem with the query you typed, and will try to indicate

where it had trouble understanding what you meant.

For such a complicated command, Query OK is a pretty boring response. Let’s

have a look at your new table to make sure it was created properly. Type the

following command:


The response should look like this:


| Tables in ijdb |


| joke |


1 row in set

This is a list of all the tables in our database (which I named ijdb above). The

list contains only one table: the joke table we just created. So far, everything

seems fine. Let’s take a closer look at the joke table itself:

mysql>DESCRIBE joke;


| Field | Type | Null | Key | Default | Extra |

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Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL


| id | int(11) | | PRI | NULL | auto_increment |

| joketext | text | YES | | NULL | |

| jokedate | date | | | 0000-00-00 | |


3 rows in set

As you can see, there are three columns (or fields) in this table, which appear as

the three rows in this table of results. The details are somewhat cryptic, but if

you look at them closely, you should be able to  out what they mean. Don’t

worry about it too much, though. We’ve got better things to do, like adding some

jokes to our table!

We need to look at just one more thing before we get to that, though: deleting

a table. This task is as frighteningly easy as deleting a database. In fact, the

command is almost identical:

mysql>DROP TABLE tableName;

Inserting Data into a Table

Our database is created and our table is built; all that’s left is to put some actual

jokes into the database. The command that inserts data into a database is called,

appropriately enough, INSERT. This command takes two basic forms:

mysql>INSERT INTO table_name SET

-> columnName1 = value1,

-> columnName2 = value2,



mysql>INSERT INTO table_name

-> (columnName1, columnName2, )

-> VALUES (value1, value2, …);

So, to add a joke to our table, we can use either of these commands:

mysql>INSERT INTO joke SET

->joketext = “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to

“> the other side!”,

->jokedate = “2004-04-01”;

mysql>INSERT INTO joke

->(joketext, jokedate) VALUES (

->“Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other

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Inserting Data into a Table

“> side!”,



Note that in the second form of the INSERT command, the order in which you

list the columns must match the order in which you list the values. Otherwise,

the order of the columns doesn’t matter, as long as you provide values for all required

fields. Now that you know how to add entries to a table, let’s see how we

can view those entries.

Viewing Stored Data

The command we use to view data stored in database tables, SELECT, is the most

complicated command in the SQL language. The reason for this complexity is

that the chief strength of a database is its flexibility in data retrieval and

presentation. At this early point in our experience with databases we need only

fairly simple lists of results, so we’ll just consider the simpler forms of the SELECT

command here. This command will list everything that’s stored in the joke table:

mysql>SELECT * FROM joke;

Read aloud, this command says “select everything from joke.” If you try this

command, your results will resemble the following:



| id | joketext

| jokedate |



| 1 | Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the

other side! | 2004-04-01 |



1 row in set (0.05 sec)

The results look a little disorganized because the text in the joketext column is

so long that the table can’t fit on the screen properly. For this reason, you might

want to tell MySQL to leave out the joketext column. The command for doing

this is as follows:

mysql>SELECT id, jokedate FROM joke;

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Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL

This time, instead of telling it to “select everything,” we told it precisely which

columns we wanted to see. The results look like this:


| id | jokedate |


| 1 | 2004-04-01 |


1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Not bad, but we’d like to see at least some of the joke text, wouldn’t we? As well

as being able to name specific columns that we want the SELECT command to

show us, we can use functions to modify each column’s display. One function,

called LEFT, lets us tell MySQL to display a column’s contents up to a specified

maximum number of characters. For example, let’s say we wanted to see only the

first 20 characters of the joketext column. Here’s the command we’d use:

mysql>SELECT ID, LEFT(joketext, 20), jokedate FROM joke;


| id | LEFT(joketext, 20) | jokedate |


| 1 | Why did the chicken | 2004-04-01 |


1 row in set (0.05 sec)

See how that worked? Another useful function is COUNT, which lets us count the

number of results returned. If, for example, we wanted to find out how many

jokes were stored in our table, we could use the following command:

mysql>SELECT COUNT(*) FROM joke;


| COUNT(*) |


| 1 |


1 row in set (0.06 sec)

As you can see, we have just one joke in our table and, so far, all the examples

have fetched all the entries in our table. However, we can limit our results to include

only those database entries that have the specific attributes we want. We

set these restrictions by adding what’s called a WHERE clause to the SELECT

command. Consider this example:

mysql>SELECT COUNT(*) FROM joke WHERE jokedate >= “2004-01-01”;

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Viewing Stored Data

This query will count the number of jokes that have dates greater than or equal

to January 1, 2004. In the case of dates, “greater than or equal to” means “on or

after.” Another variation on this theme lets you search for entries that contain a

certain piece of text. Check out this query:

mysql>SELECT joketext FROM joke WHERE joketext LIKE “%chicken%”;

The above query displays the text of all jokes that contain the word “chicken”

in their joketext column. The LIKE keyword tells MySQL that the named column

must match the given pattern. In this case, the pattern we’ve used is “%chicken%”.

The % signs indicate that the word “chicken” may be preceded and/or followed

by any string of text.

Additional conditions may also be combined in the WHERE clause to further restrict

results. For example, to display knock-knock jokes from April 2004 only, we

could use the following query:

mysql>SELECT joketext FROM joke WHERE

->joketext LIKE “%knock%” AND

->jokedate >= “2004-04-01” AND

->jokedate < “2004-05-01”;

Enter a few more jokes into the table and experiment with SELECT statements.

A good familiarity with the SELECT statement will come in handy later in this


You can do a lot with the SELECT statement. We’ll look at some of its more advanced

features later, when we need them.

Modifying Stored Data

Having entered your data into a database table, you might like to change it.

Whether you want to correct a spelling mistake, or change the date attached to

a joke, such alterations are made using the UPDATE command. This command

contains elements of the INSERT command that set column values, and elements

of the SELECT command that pick out entries for modification. The general form

of the UPDATE command is as follows:

mysql>UPDATE table_name SET

-> col_name = new_value,

->WHERE conditions;

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Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL

So, for example, if we wanted to change the date on the joke we entered above,

we’d use the following command:

mysql>UPDATE joke SET jokedate=”1994-04-01″ WHERE id=1;

Here’s where that id column comes in handy: it allows us to easily single out a

joke for changes. The WHERE clause used here works just as it did in the SELECT

command. This next command, for example, changes the date of all entries that

contain the word “chicken:”

mysql>UPDATE joke SET jokedate=”1994-04-01″

->WHERE joketext LIKE “%chicken%”;

Deleting Stored Data

The deletion of entries in SQL is dangerously easy, which, if you haven’t noticed

yet, is a recurring theme. Here’s the command syntax:

mysql>DELETE FROM table_name WHERE conditions;

To delete all chicken jokes from your table, you’d use the following query:

mysql>DELETE FROM joke WHERE joketext LIKE “%chicken%”;

One thing to note is that the WHERE clause is actually optional. You should be

very careful, however, if you leave it out, as the DELETE command will then apply

to all entries in the table. This command will empty the joke table in one fell


mysql>DELETE FROM joke;

Scary, huh?


There’s a lot more to the MySQL database system and the SQL language than

the few basic commands we’ve discussed here, but these commands are by far

the most commonly used. To date, we’ve only worked with a single table, but to

realize the true power of a relational database, we’ll also need to learn how to

use multiple tables together to represent potentially complex relationships between

database entities.

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Deleting Stored Data

We’ll cover all this and more in Chapter 5, where we’ll discuss database design

principles and look at some more advanced examples. For now, though, we’ve

accomplished our objective, and you can comfortably interact with MySQL using

the command line interface. In Chapter 3, the fun continues as we delve into the

PHP server-side scripting language, and use it to create dynamic Web pages. If

you like, you can practice with MySQL a little before you move on by creating

a decent-sized joke table. This knowledge will come in handy in Chapter 4.

42 Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now!

Chapter 2: Getting Started with MySQL

Getting Started with PHP 3

In Chapter 2, we learned how to use the MySQL database engine to store a list

of jokes in a simple database (composed of a single table named joke). To do so,

we used the MySQL command-line client to enter SQL commands (queries). In

this chapter, we’ll introduce the PHP server-side scripting language. In addition

to the basic features we’ll explore here, this language has full support for communication

with MySQL databases.

Introducing PHP

As we’ve discussed previously, PHP is a server-side scripting language. This concept

is not obvious, especially if you’re used to designing pages with just HTML and

JavaScript. A server-side scripting language is similar to JavaScript in that it allows

you to embed little programs (scripts) into the HTML of a Web page. When

executed, such scripts allow you to control what appears in the browser window

more flexibly than straight HTML.

The key difference between JavaScript and PHP is simple. JavaScript is interpreted

by the Web browser once the Web page that contains the script has been

downloaded. Conversely, server-side scripting languages such as PHP are interpreted

by the Web server before the page is even sent to the browser. And, once

it’s interpreted, the results of the script replace the PHP code in the Web page

itself—all the browser sees is a standard HTML file. The script is processed entirely

by the server, hence the designation: server-side scripting language.

Let’s look back at the today.php example presented in Chapter 1:

File: today.php

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Today’s Date</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<p>Today’s Date (according to this Web server) is


echo date(‘l, F dS Y.’);




Most of this is plain HTML; however, the line between <?php and ?> is written

in PHP. <?php means “begin PHP code,” and ?> means “end PHP code.” The

Web server is asked to interpret everything between these two delimiters, and

to convert it to regular HTML code before it sends the Web page to the requesting

browser. The browser is presented with something like this:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Today’s Date</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<p>Today’s Date (according to this Web server) is

Sunday, May 16th 2004.</p>



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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

Notice that all signs of the PHP code have disappeared. In its place, the output

of the script has appeared, and it looks just like standard HTML. This example

demonstrates several advantages of server-side scripting:

No browser compatibility issues

PHP scripts are interpreted by the Web server alone, so you don’t have to

worry about whether the language you’re using is supported by visitors’


Access to server-side resources

In the above example, we placed the date, according to the Web server, into

the Web page. If we had inserted the date using JavaScript, we would only

be able to display the date according to the computer on which the Web

browser was running. Now, while this isn’t an especially impressive example

of the exploitation of server-side resources, we could just as easily have inserted

some other information that would be available only to a script running on

the Web server. An example might be information stored in a MySQL database

that runs on the Web server computer.

Reduced load on the client

JavaScript can slow significantly the display of a Web page on slower computers,

as the browser must run the script before it can display the Web page.

With server-side scripting, this burden is passed to the Web server machine.

Basic Syntax and Commands

PHP syntax will be very familiar to anyone with an understanding of C, C++,

C#, Java, JavaScript, Perl, or any other C-derived language. A PHP script consists

of a series of commands, or statements. Each statement is an instruction that

must be followed the Web server before it can proceed to the next. PHP statements,

like those in the above-mentioned languages, are always terminated by a

semicolon (;).

This is a typical PHP statement:

echo ‘This is a <b>test</b>!’;

This is an echo statement, which is used to send output to the browser. An echo

statement simply takes the text it’s given, and places it into the page’s HTML

code at the current location.

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Basic Syntax and Commands

In this case, we have supplied a string of text to be output: ‘This is a

<b>test</b>!’. Notice that the string of text contains HTML tags (<b> and

</b>), which is perfectly acceptable. So, if we take this statement and put it into

a complete PHP script (echo.php in the code archive), here’s the code we get:

File: echo.php

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Simple PHP Example</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<p><?php echo ‘This is a <b>test</b>!’; ?></p>



If you place this file on your Web server, a browser that views the page will see


<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Simple PHP Example</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<p>This is a <b>test</b>!</p>



Our today.php example contained a slightly more complex echo statement:

File: today.php (excerpt)

echo date(‘l, F dS Y.’);

Instead of giving echo a simple string of text to output, this statement invokes

a built-in function called date and passes it a string of text: ‘l, F ds Y.’.

Built-in functions can be thought of as things that PHP knows how to do without

our needing to spell out the details. PHP has many built-in functions that let us

do everything from sending email, to working with information stored in various

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

types of databases. In this case, the date function produces a text representation

of the current date, using the string it is given to determine the format.

You may wonder why we need to surround the string of text with both parentheses

(()) and single quotes (). Quotes are used to mark the beginning and end of

strings of text in PHP, so their presence is fully justified. The parentheses serve

two purposes. First, they indicate that date is a function that you want to call.

Second, they mark the beginning and end of a list of parameters that you wish

to provide, in order to tell the function what to do. In the case of the date

function, you need to provide a string of text that describes the format in which

you want the date to appear.1 Later on, we’ll look at functions that take more

than one parameter, and we’ll separate those parameters with commas. We’ll

also consider functions that take no parameters at all. These functions will still

need the parentheses, though we won’t type anything between them.

Variables and Operators

Variables in PHP are identical to variables in most other programming languages.

For the uninitiated, a variable can be thought of as a name that’s given to an

imaginary box into which any value may be placed. The following statement

creates a variable called $testvariable (all variable names in PHP begin with a

dollar sign) and assigns it a value of 3:

$testvariable = 3;

PHP is a loosely typed language. This means that a single variable may contain

any type of data, be it a number, a string of text, or some other kind of value,

and may change types over its lifetime. So the following statement, if it appears

after the statement above, assigns a new value to our existing $testvariable.

In the process, the variable changes type: where it used to contain a number, it

now contains a string of text:

$testvariable = “Three”;

The equals sign we used in the last two statements is called the assignment operator,

as it is used to assign values to variables. Other operators may be used

to perform various mathematical operations on values:

$testvariable = 1 + 1; // Assigns a value of 2

$testvariable = 1 – 1; // Assigns a value of 0

1A full reference is available in the online documentation for the date function


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Variables and Operators

$testvariable = 2 * 2; // Assigns a value of 4

$testvariable = 2 / 2; // Assigns a value of 1

Each of the lines above ends with a comment. Comments are a way to describe

what your code is doing—they insert explanatory text into your code, and tell

the PHP interpreter to ignore it. Comments begin with // and they finish at the

end of the same line. You might be familiar with the /* */ style of comment

used in other languages—these work in PHP as well. I’ll be using comments

throughout the rest of this book to help explain the code I present.

Now, let’s get back to the four statements above. The operators we used are called

the arithmetic operators, and allow you to add, subtract, multiply, and divide

numbers. Among others, there is an operator that sticks strings of text together,

called the concatenation operator:

$testvariable = “Hi ” . “there!”;

// Assigns a value of “Hi there!”

Variables may be used almost anywhere that you use an actual value. Consider

these examples:

$var1 = ‘PHP’; // Assigns a value of ‘PHP’ to $var1

$var2 = 5; // Assigns a value of 5 to $var2

$var3 = $var2 + 1; // Assigns a value of 6 to $var3

$var2 = $var1; // Assigns a value of ‘PHP’ to $var2

echo $var1; // Outputs ‘PHP’

echo $var2; // Outputs ‘PHP’

echo $var3; // Outputs ‘6’

echo $var1 . ‘ rules!’; // Outputs ‘PHP rules!’

echo “$var1 rules!”; // Outputs ‘PHP rules!’

echo ‘$var1 rules!’; // Outputs ‘$var1 rules!’

Notice the last two lines in particular. You can include the name of a variable

right inside a text string, and have the value inserted in its place if you surround

the string with double quotes instead of single quotes. This process of converting

variable names to their values is known as variable interpolation. However, as

the last line demonstrates, a string surrounded with single quotes will not interpolate

the variable names it contains.


An array is a special kind of variable that contains multiple values. If you think

of a variable as a box that contains a value, then an array can be thought of as a

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

box with compartments, where each compartment is able to store an individual


The simplest way to create an array in PHP is to use the built-in array function:

$myarray = array(‘one’, 2, ‘3’);

This code creates an array called $myarray that contains three values: ‘one’, 2,

and ‘three’. Just like an ordinary variable, each space in an array can contain

any type of value. In this case, the first and third spaces contain strings, while

the second contains a number.

To get at a value stored in an array, you need to know its index. Typically, arrays

use numbers, starting with zero, as indices to point to the values they contain.

That is, the first value (or element) of an array has index 0, the second has index

1, the third has index 2, and so on. In general, therefore, the index of the nth

element of an array is n–1. Once you know the index of the value you’re interested

in, you can get that value by placing that index in square brackets after the array

variable name:

echo $myarray[0]; // Outputs ‘one’

echo $myarray[1]; // Outputs ‘2’

echo $myarray[2]; // Outputs ‘3’

You can also use the index in square brackets to create new elements, or assign

new values to existing array elements:

$myarray[1] = ‘two’; // Assign a new value

$myarray[3] = ‘four’; // Create a new element

You can add elements to the end of an array using the assignment operator as

usual, but leaving empty the square brackets that follow the variable name:

$myarray[] = ‘the fifth element’;

echo $myarray[4]; // Outputs ‘the fifth element’

Array indices don’t always have to be numbers; that’s just the most common

choice. You can also use strings as indices to create what is called an associative

array. This type of array is called associative because it associates values with

meaningful indices. In this example, we associate a date with each of three names:

$birthdays[‘Kevin’] = ‘1978-04-12’;

$birthdays[‘Stephanie’] = ‘1980-05-16’;

$birthdays[‘David’] = ‘1983-09-09’;

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The array function also lets you create associative arrays, if you prefer that

method. Here’s how we’d use it to create the $birthdays array:

$birthdays = array(‘Kevin’ => ‘1978-04-12’, ‘Stephanie’ =>

‘1980-05-16’, ‘David’ => ‘1983-09-09’);

Now, if we want to know Kevin’s birthday, we look it up using the name as the


echo ‘My birthday is: ‘ . $birthdays[‘Kevin’];

This type of array is especially important when it comes to user interaction in

PHP, as we’ll see in the next section. I’ll demonstrate other uses of arrays

throughout this book.

User Interaction and Forms

The ability to interact with users who view a Web page is essential for many applications

of PHP. Veterans of JavaScript tend to think in terms of event handlers,

which let you react directly to the actions of the user—for example, the movement

of the cursor over a link on the page. Server-side scripting languages such as PHP

have a more limited scope when it comes to user interaction. As PHP code is activated

when a page is requested from the server, user interaction can occur only

in a back-and-forth fashion: the user sends requests to the server, and the server

replies with dynamically generated pages.

The key to creating interactivity with PHP is to understand the techniques we

can use to send information about a user’s interaction along with his or her request

for a new Web page. PHP makes this fairly easy, as we’ll now see.

The simplest method we can use to send information along with a page request

uses the URL query string. If you’ve ever seen a URL in which a question mark

followed the file name, you’ve witnessed this technique in use. Let’s look at an

easy example. Create a regular HTML file called welcome1.html (no .php file

extension is required, since there will be no PHP code in this file) and insert this


File: welcome.html (excerpt)

<a href=”welcome1.php?name=Kevin”>Hi, I’m Kevin!</a>

This is a link to a file called welcome1.php, but as well as linking to the file, we’re

also passing a variable along with the page request. The variable is passed as part

of the query string, which is the portion of the URL that follows the question

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

mark. The variable is called name and its value is Kevin. To restate, we have created

a link that loads welcome1.php, and informs the PHP code contained in the

file that name equals Kevin.

To really understand the results of this process, we need to look at welcome1.php.

Create it as a new HTML file, but, this time, note the .php extension—this tells

the Web server that it can expect to interpret some PHP code in the file. In the

body of this new file, type the following:

File: welcome1.php (excerpt)


$name = $_GET[‘name’];

echo “Welcome to our Website, $name!”;


Now, if you use the link in the first file to load this second file, you’ll see that

the page says “Welcome to our Website, Kevin!” This is illustrated in  3.1.

 3.1. Greet users with a personalized welcome message.

PHP creates automatically an array variable called $_GET that contains any values

passed in the query string. $_GET is an associative array, so the value of the name

variable passed in the query string can be accessed as $_GET[‘name’]. Our script

assigns this value to an ordinary PHP variable ($name), then displays it as part

of a text string using an echo statement.

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User Interaction and Forms

register_globals before PHP 4.2

In versions of PHP prior to 4.2, the register_globals setting in php.ini was set to

On by default. This setting tells PHP to create ordinary variables for all the values supplied

in the request automatically. In the previous example, the $name = $_GET[‘name’];

line would be completely unnecessary if the register_globals setting were set to On,

since PHP would do it automatically. Although the convenience of this feature was one

aspect that helped to make PHP such a popular language in the first place, novice developers

could easily leave security holes in sensitive scripts with it enabled.

For a full discussion of the issues surrounding register_globals, see my article

Write Secure Scripts with PHP 4.2![2] at

You can pass more than one value in the query string. Let’s look at a slightly

more complex version of the same example. Change the link in the HTML file

to read as follows:

File: welcome2.html (excerpt)

<a href=”welcome2.php?firstname=Kevin&amp;lastname=Yank”>Hi,

I’m Kevin Yank!</a>

This time, we’ll pass two variables: firstname and lastname. The variables are

separated in the query string by an ampersand (&, which is encoded as &amp; as

it is a special character in HTML). You can pass even more variables by separating

each name=value pair from the next with an ampersand.

As before, we can use the two variable values in our welcome2.php file:

File: welcome2.php (excerpt)


$firstname = $_GET[‘firstname’];

$lastname = $_GET[‘lastname’];

echo “Welcome to my Website, $firstname $lastname!”;


The result is shown in  3.2.


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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

 3.2. Create an even more personalized welcome message.

This is all well and good, but we still have yet to achieve our goal of true user

interaction, where the user can enter arbitrary information and have it processed

by PHP. To continue with our example of a personalized welcome message, we’d

like to allow the user to type his or her name and have it appear in the message.

To allow the user to type in a value, we’ll need to use an HTML form.

Here’s the code:

File: welcome3.html (excerpt)

<form action=”welcome3.php” method=”get”>

<label>First Name: <input type=”text” name=”firstname” />

</label><br />

<label>Last Name: <input type=”text” name=”lastname” />

</label><br />

<input type=”submit” value=”GO” />


Self-closing tags

Don’t be alarmed at the slashes that appear in some of these tags (e.g. <br

/>). The XHTML standard for coding Web pages calls for slashes to be used

in any tag that does not have a closing tag, which includes input and br

tags, among others. Current browsers do not require you to use the slashes,

of course, but for the sake of standards-compliance, the HTML code in this

book will observe this recommendation.

The form this code produces is shown in  3.3.

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User Interaction and Forms

 3.3. Make your own welcome message.

This form has the exact same effect as the second link we looked at (with

firstname=Kevin&amp;lastname=Yank in the query string), except that you can

now enter whatever names you like. When you click the submit button (which

is labelled GO), the browser will load welcome3.php and add the variables and

their values to the query string for you automatically. It retrieves the names of

the variables from the name attributes of the input type=”text” tags, and obtains

the values from the information the user typed into the text fields.

The method attribute of the form tag is used to tell the browser how to send the

variables and their values along with the request. A value of get (as used above)

causes them to be passed in the query string (and appear in PHP’s $_GET array),

but there is an alternative. It’s not always desirable—or even technically feasible—

to have the values appear in the query string. What if we included a textarea

tag in the form, to let the user enter a large amount of text? A URL whose

query string contained several paragraphs of text would be ridiculously long, and

would possibly exceed the maximum length for a URL in today’s browsers. The

alternative is for the browser to pass the information invisibly, behind the scenes.

The code for this looks exactly the same, but where we set the form method to

get in the last example, here we set it to post:

File: welcome4.html (excerpt)

<form action=”welcome4.php” method=”post”>

<label>First Name:

<input type=”text” name=”firstname” /></label><br />

<label>Last Name:

<input type=”text” name=”lastname” /></label><br />

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

<input type=”submit” value=”GO” />


As we’re no longer sending the variables as part of the query string, they no longer

appear in PHP’s $_GET array. Instead, they are placed in another array reserved

especially for ‘posted’ form variables: $_POST. We must therefore modify welcome4.

php to retrieve the values from this new array:

File: welcome4.php (excerpt)


$firstname = $_POST[‘firstname’];

$lastname = $_POST[‘lastname’];

echo “Welcome to my Website, $firstname $lastname!”;


 3.4 shows what the resulting page looks like once this new form is submitted.

 3.4. This personalized welcome is achieved without a query


The form is functionally identical to the previous one; the only difference is that

the URL of the page that’s loaded when the user clicks the GO button will not

have a query string. On the one hand, this lets you include large values, or sensitive

values (like passwords), in the data that’s submitted by the form, without

their appearing in the query string. On the other hand, if the user bookmarks

the page that results from the form’s submission, that bookmark will be useless,

as it doesn’t contain the submitted values. This, incidentally, is the main reason

that search engines use the query string to submit search terms. If you bookmark

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User Interaction and Forms

a search results page on Google[3] or AltaVista[4], you can use that bookmark

to perform the same search again later, because the search terms are contained

in the URL.

Sometimes, you want access to a variable without having to worry about whether

it was sent as part of the query string or a form post. In cases like these, the

special $_REQUEST array comes in handy. It contains all the variables that appear

in both $_GET and $_POST. With this variable, we can modify our form processing

script one more time so that it can receive the first and last names of the user

from either source:

File: welcome5.php (excerpt)


$firstname = $_REQUEST[‘firstname’];

$lastname = $_REQUEST[‘lastname’];

echo “Welcome to my Website, $firstname $lastname!”;


That covers the basics of using forms to produce rudimentary user interaction

with PHP. I’ll cover more advanced issues and techniques in later examples.

Control Structures

All the examples of PHP code we’ve seen so far have been either simple, onestatement

scripts that output a string of text to the Web page, or series of statements

that were to be executed one after the other in order. If you’ve ever written

programs in other languages (JavaScript, C, or BASIC) you already know that

practical programs are rarely so simple.

PHP, just like any other programming language, provides facilities that allow us

to affect the flow of control in a script. That is, the language contains special

statements that permit you to deviate from the one-after-another execution order

that has dominated our examples so far. Such statements are called control

structures. Don’t get it? Don’t worry! A few examples will illustrate perfectly.

The most basic, and most often-used, control structure is the if-else statement.

Here’s what it looks like:

if (condition) {

// Statement(s) to be executed if



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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

// condition is true.

} else {

// (Optional) Statement(s) to be

// executed if condition is false.


This control structure lets us tell PHP to execute one set of statements or another,

depending on whether some condition is true or false. If you’ll indulge my vanity

for a moment, here’s an example that shows a twist on the personalized welcome

page example we created earlier:

File: welcome6.php (excerpt)

$name = $_REQUEST[‘name’];

if ($name == ‘Kevin’) {

echo ‘Welcome, oh glorious leader!’;

} else {

echo “Welcome to our Website, $name!”;


Now, if the name variable passed to the page has a value of Kevin, a special message

will be displayed. Otherwise, the normal message will be displayed and will

contain the name that the user entered. The result in the former case is shown

in  3.5.

 3.5. It’s good to be the king.

As indicated in the code structure above, the else clause (that part of the ifelse

statement that says what to do if the condition is false) is optional. Let’s

say you wanted to display the special message above only if the appropriate name

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Control Structures

was entered; otherwise, you didn’t want to display any message. Here’s how the

code would look:

$name = $_REQUEST[‘name’];

if ($name == ‘Kevin’) {

echo ‘Welcome, oh glorious leader!’;


The == used in the condition above is the PHP equal-to operator that’s used to

compare two values to see whether they’re equal.

Double Trouble

Remember to type the double-equals, because if you were to use a single

equals sign you’d be using the assignment operator discussed above. So, instead

of comparing the variable to the designated value, instead, you’d assign

a new value to the variable—an operation that evaluates as true as long as

the new value isn’t zero, false, or an empty string. This would not only cause

the condition always to be true, but would also change the value in the

variable you’re checking, which could cause all sorts of problems later in the


Conditions can be more complex than a single comparison for equality. Recall

that our form examples above would receive a first and last name. If we wanted

to display a special message only for a particular person, we’d have to check the

values of both names:

File: welcome7.php (excerpt)

$firstname = $_REQUEST[‘firstname’];

$lastname = $_REQUEST[‘lastname’];

if ($firstname == ‘Kevin’ and $lastname == ‘Yank’) {

echo ‘Welcome, oh glorious leader!’;

} else {

echo “Welcome to my Website, $firstname $lastname!”;


This condition will be true if and only if $firstname has a value of Kevin and

$lastname has a value of Yank. The word and in the above condition makes the

whole condition true only if both of the comparisons evaluate to true. Another

such operator is or, which makes the whole condition true if one or both of two

simple conditions are true. If you’re more familiar with the JavaScript or C forms

of these operators (&& and || for and and or respectively), that’s fine—they work

in PHP as well.

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

 3.6 shows that getting only one of the names right in this example doesn’t

cut the mustard.

 3.6. Frankly, my dear…

We’ll look at more complicated conditions as the need arises. For the time being,

a general familiarity with the if-else statement is sufficient.

Another often-used PHP control structure is the while loop. Where the if-else

statement allowed us to choose whether or not to execute a set of statements

depending on some condition, the while loop allows us to use a condition to

determine how many times we’ll execute a set of statements repeatedly. Here’s

what a while loop looks like:

while (condition) {

// statement(s) to execute over

// and over as long as condition

// remains true


The while loop works very similarly to an if-else statement without an else

clause. The difference arises when the condition is true and the statement(s) are

executed. Instead of continuing the execution with the statement that follows

the closing brace (}), the condition is checked again. If the condition is still true,

then the statement(s) are executed a second time, and a third, and will continue

to be executed as long as the condition remains true. The first time the condition

evaluates false (whether it’s the first time it’s checked, or the one-hundred-andfirst),

execution jumps immediately to the statement that follows the while loop,

after the closing brace.

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Control Structures

Loops like these come in handy whenever you’re working with long lists of things

(such as jokes stored in a database… hint, hint!), but for now we’ll illustrate with

a trivial example: counting to ten.

File: count10.php (excerpt)

$count = 1;

while ($count <= 10) {

echo “$count “;



It looks a bit frightening, I know, but let me talk you through it line by line. The

first line creates a variable called $count and assigns it a value of 1. The second

line is the start of a while loop, the condition for which is that the value of $count

is less than or equal (<=) to 10. The third and fourth lines make up the body of

the while loop, and will be executed over and over, as long as that condition

holds true. The third line simply outputs the value of $count, followed by a space.

The fourth line adds one to the value of $count (++$count is a short cut for

$count = $count + 1—both will work).

So here’s what happens when this piece of code is executed. The first time the

condition is checked, the value of $count is 1, so the condition is definitely true.

The value of $count (1) is output, and $count is given a new value of 2. The

condition is still true the second time it is checked, so the value (2) is output and

a new value (3) is assigned. This process continues, outputting the values 3, 4,

5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Finally, $count is given a value of 11, and the condition is

false, which ends the loop. The net result of the code is shown in  3.7.

 3.7. PHP demonstrates kindergarten-level math skills.

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

The condition in this example used a new operator: <= (less than or equal).

Other numerical comparison operators of this type include >= (greater than or

equal), < (less than), > (greater than), and != (not equal). That last one also

works when comparing text strings, by the way.

Another type of loop that is designed specifically to handle examples like that

above, in which we’re counting through a series of values until some condition

is met, is called a for loop. Here’s what it looks like:

for (initialize; condition; update) {

// statement(s) to execute over

// and over as long as condition

// remains true after each update


The initialize statement is executed once at the start of the loop; the condition

statement is checked each time through the loop, before the statements in the

body are executed; the update statement is executed each time through the loop,

but after the statements in the body.

Here’s what the “counting to 10” example looks like when implemented with a

for loop:

File: count10–for.php (excerpt)

for ($count = 1; $count <= 10; ++$count) {

echo “$count “;


As you can see, the statements that initialize and increment the $count variable

join the condition on the first line of the for loop. Although, at first glance, the

code seems a little more difficult to read, putting all the code that deals with

controlling the loop in the same place actually makes it easier to understand once

you’re used to the syntax. Many of the examples in this book will use for loops,

so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice reading them.

Multipurpose Pages

Let’s say you wanted to construct your site so that it showed the visitor’s name

at the top of every page. With our custom welcome message example above, we’re

halfway there already. Here are the problems we’ll need to overcome to extend

the example:

_ We need the name on every page of the site, not just one.

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Multipurpose Pages

_ We have no control over which page of our site users will view first.

The first problem isn’t too hard to overcome. Once we have the user’s name in

a variable on one page, we can pass it with any request to another page by adding

the name to the query string of all links:2

<a href=”newpage.php?name=<?php echo urlencode($_GET[‘name’]);?>”>

A link</a>

Notice that we’ve embedded PHP code right in the middle of an HTML tag. This

is perfectly legal, and will work just fine.

You’re familiar with echo statements, but the urlencode function is probably

new to you. This function takes special characters in the string (for example,

spaces) and converts them into the special codes they need to be in order to appear

in the query string. For example, if the $name variable had a value of ‘Kevin

Yank’, then, as spaces are not allowed in the query string, the output of urlencode

(and thus, the string output by echo) would be ‘Kevin+Yank’. PHP would then

convert it back automatically when it created the $_GET variable in newpage.php.

Okay, so the user’s name will be passed with every link in our site. Now all we

need is to get that name in the first place. In our welcome message example, we

had a special HTML page containing a form that prompted the user for his or

her name. The problem with this (identified by the second point above) is that

we couldn’t—nor would we wish to—force the user to enter our Website by that

page every time he or she visited our site.

The solution is to have every page of our site check to see if a name has been

specified, and prompt the user for a name if necessary.3 This means that every

page of our site will either display its content, or prompt the user to enter a name,

depending on whether the $name variable is found to have a value. If you think

this is beginning to sound like a good place for an if-else statement, you’re a

quick study!

We’ll refer to pages that can decide whether to display one thing or another as

multipurpose pages. The code of a multipurpose page looks something like this:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

2If this sounds like a lot of work to you, it is. Don’t worry; we’ll learn much more practical methods

for sharing variables between pages in Chapter 11.

3Again, if you’re dreading the thought of adding PHP code to prompt the user for a name to every

page of your site, don’t fret; we’ll cover a more practical way to do this later.

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Multipurpose Page Outline</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<?php if (condition) { ?>

<!– HTML content to display if condition is true –>

<?php } else { ?>

<!– HTML content to display if condition is false –>

<?php } ?>



This code may confuse you at first, but, in fact, this is just a normal if-else

statement with HTML code sections that depend on the condition, instead of

PHP statements. This example illustrates one of the big selling points of PHP:

that you can switch in and out of “PHP mode” whenever you like. If you think

of <?php as the command to switch into “PHP mode”, and ?> as the command

to go back into “normal HTML mode,” the above example should make perfect


There’s an alternate form of the if-else statement that can make your code

more readable in situations like this. Here’s the outline for a multipurpose page

using the alternate if-else form:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Multipurpose Page Outline</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<?php if (condition): ?>

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Multipurpose Pages

<!– HTML content to display if condition is true –>

<?php else: ?>

<!– HTML content to display if condition is false –>

<?php endif; ?>



Okay, now that we have all the tools we need in hand, let’s look at a sample page

of our site:

File: samplepage.php

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Sample Page</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<?php if (!isset($_GET[‘name’])): ?>

<!– No name has been provided, so we

prompt the user for one. –>

<form action=”<?php echo $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]; ?>” method=”get”>

<label>Please enter your name:

<input type=”text” name=”name” /></label>

<input type=”submit” value=”GO” />


<?php else: ?>

<p>Your name: <?php echo $_GET[‘name’]; ?></p>

<p>This paragraph contains a

<a href=”newpage.php?name=<?php echo urlencode($_GET[‘name’]);

?>”>link</a> that passes the name variable on to the next


<?php endif; ?>

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP



There are two new tricks in the above code, but overall you should be fairly

comfortable with the way it works. First of all, we’re using a new function called

isset in the condition. This function returns (outputs) a value of true if the

variable it is given has been assigned a value (i.e. if a name has been provided in

this example), and false if the variable does not exist (i.e. if a name has not yet

been provided). The exclamation mark (also known as the negation operator,

or the not operator), which appears before the name of the function, reverses

the returned value from true to false, or vice-versa. Thus, the form is displayed

when the $_GET[‘name’] variable is not set.

The second new trick is the use of the variable $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’] to specify

the action attribute of the <form> tag. Like $_GET, $_POST, and $_REQUEST,

$_SERVER is an array variable that is automatically created by PHP. $_SERVER

contains a whole bunch of information supplied by your Web server. In particular,

$_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’] will always be set to the URL of the current page. This

gives us an easy way to create a form that, when submitted, will load the very

same page, but this time with the $name variable specified.

 3.8. Kicking butt and taking names.

If we structure all the pages on our site in this way, visitors will be prompted for

their name by the first page they attempt to view, whichever page this happens

to be, as shown in  3.8. Once they enter their names and click GO, they’ll

be presented with the exact page they requested. As shown in the status bar of

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Multipurpose Pages

 3.9, the entered name is then passed in the query string of every link from

that point onward, ensuring that the user is prompted only once.

 3.9. We know who you are.


In this chapter, we’ve seen the PHP server-side scripting language in action as

we’ve explored all the basic language features: statements, variables, operators,

and control structures. The sample applications we’ve seen have been reasonably

simple, but don’t let that dissuade you. The real power of PHP is in its hundreds

of built-in functions that let you access data in a MySQL database, send email,

dynamically generate images, and even create Adobe Acrobat PDF files on the


In Chapter 4, we’ll delve into the MySQL functions in PHP, and see how to

publish the joke database we created in Chapter 2 to the Web. This chapter will

set the scene for the ultimate goal of this book—creating a complete content

management system for your Website in PHP and MySQL.

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Chapter 3: Getting Started with PHP

Publishing MySQL Data on the

Web 4

This is it—the stuff you signed up for! In this chapter, you’ll learn how to take

information stored in a database and display it on a Web page for all to see. So

far, you’ve installed and learned the basics of MySQL, a relational database engine,

and PHP, a server-side scripting language. Now you’ll see how to use these two

new tools together to create a true database-driven Website!

A Look Back at First Principles

Before we leap forward, it’s worth a brief look back to remind you of our ultimate

goal. We have two powerful tools at our disposal: the PHP scripting language,

and the MySQL database engine. It’s important to understand how these will fit


The whole idea of a database-driven Website is to allow the content of the site

to reside in a database, and for that content to be pulled from the database dynamically

to create Web pages for people to view with a regular Web browser.

So, on one end of the system you have a visitor to your site who uses a Web

browser to request a page, and expects to receive a standard HTML document.

On the other end you have the content of your site, which sits in one or more

tables in a MySQL database that understands only how to respond to SQL

queries (commands).

 4.1. PHP retrieves MySQL data to produce Web pages.

As shown in  4.1, the PHP scripting language is the go-between that speaks

both languages. It processes the page request and fetches the data from the

MySQL database, then spits it out dynamically as the nicely-formatted HTML

page that the browser expects. With PHP, you can write the presentation aspects

of your site (the fancy graphics and page layouts) as “templates” in regular HTML.

At the points at which content belongs in those templates, you use some PHP

code to connect to the MySQL database and—using SQL queries just like those

you used to create a table of jokes in Chapter 2—retrieve and display some content

in its place.

Just so it’s clear and fresh in your mind, this is what will happen when someone

visits a page on your database-driven Website:

1. The visitor’s Web browser requests the Web page using a standard URL.

2. The Web server software (Apache, IIS, or whatever) recognizes that the requested

file is a PHP script, so the server interprets the file using its PHP

plug-in before responding to the page request.

3. Certain PHP commands (which you have yet to learn) connect to the MySQL

database and request the content that belongs in the Web page.

4. The MySQL database responds by sending the requested content to the PHP


5. The PHP script stores the content into one or more PHP variables, then uses

the now-familiar echo statement to output the content as part of the Web


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Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

6. The PHP plug-in finishes up by handing a copy of the HTML it has created

to the Web server.

7. The Web server sends the HTML to the Web browser as it would a plain

HTML file, except that instead of coming directly from an HTML file, the

page is the output provided by the PHP plug-in.

Connecting to MySQL with PHP

Before you can get content out of your MySQL database for inclusion in a Web

page, you must know how to establish a connection to MySQL from inside a

PHP script. Back in Chapter 2, you used a program called mysql that allowed

you to make such a connection from the command prompt. PHP has no need of

any special program, however; support for connecting to MySQL is built right

into the language. The built-in function mysql_connect establishes the connection:

mysql_connect(address, username, password)

Here, address is the IP address or host name of the computer on which the

MySQL server software is running (‘localhost’ if it’s running on the same

computer as the Web server software), and username and password are the same

MySQL user name and password you used to connect to the MySQL server in

Chapter 2.

You may remember that functions in PHP usually return (output) a value when

they’re called. Don’t worry if this doesn’t ring any bells for you—it’s a detail that

I glossed over when I first discussed functions in Chapter 3. In addition to doing

something useful when they are called, most functions output a value; that value

may be stored in a variable for later use. The mysql_connect function shown

above, for example, returns a number that identifies the connection that has been

established. Since we intend to make use of the connection, we should hold onto

this value. Here’s an example of how we might connect to our MySQL server.

$dbcnx = mysql_connect(‘localhost’, ‘root’, ‘mypasswd’);

As described above, the values of the three function parameters may differ for

your MySQL server. What’s important to see here is that the value returned by

mysql_connect (which we’ll call a connection identifier) is stored in a variable

named $dbcnx.

As the MySQL server is a completely separate piece of software, we must consider

the possibility that the server may be unavailable or inaccessible due to a network

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Connecting to MySQL with PHP

outage, or because the user name/password combination you provided is not accepted

by the server. In such cases, the mysql_connect function doesn’t return

a connection identifier, as no connection is established; instead, it returns false.

This allows us to react to such failures using an if statement:

$dbcnx = @mysql_connect(‘localhost’, ‘root’, ‘mypasswd’);

if (!$dbcnx) {

echo ‘<p>Unable to connect to the ‘ .

‘database server at this time.</p>’ );



There are three new tricks in the above code fragment. First, we have placed an

@ symbol in front of the mysql_connect function. Many functions, including

mysql_connect, automatically display ugly error messages when they fail. Placing

the @ symbol (also known as the error suppression operator) in front of the

function name tells the function to fail silently, and allows us to display our own,

friendlier error message.

Next, we put an exclamation mark (!) in front of the $dbcnx variable in the

condition of the if statement. The exclamation mark is the PHP negation operator,

which basically flips a false value to true, or a true value to false. Thus, if

the connection fails and mysql_connect returns false, !$dbcnx will evaluate to

true, and cause the statements in the body of our if statement to be executed.

Alternatively, if a connection was made, the connection identifier stored in $dbcnx

will evaluate to true (any number other than zero is considered “true” in PHP),

so !$dbcnx will evaluate to false, and the statements in the if statement will not

be executed.

The last new trick is the exit function, which is the first example that we’ve encountered

of a function that can be called with no parameters. When called this

way, all this function does is cause PHP to stop reading the page at this point.

This is a good response to a failed database connection because in most cases the

page will be unable to display any useful information without that connection.

As in Chapter 2, once a connection is established, the next step is to select the

database with which you want to work. Let’s say we want to work with the joke

database we created in Chapter 2. The database we created was called ijdb. Selecting

that database in PHP is just a matter of another function call:

mysql_select_db(‘ijdb’, $dbcnx);

Notice we use the $dbcnx variable that contains the database connection identifier

to tell the function which database connection to use. This parameter is ac-

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Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

tually optional. When it’s omitted, the function will automatically use the link

identifier for the last connection opened. This function returns true when it’s

successful and false if an error occurs. Once again, it’s prudent to use an if

statement to handle errors:

if (!@mysql_select_db(‘ijdb’)) {

exit(‘<p>Unable to locate the joke ‘ .

‘database at this time.</p>’);


Note that this time, instead of assigning the result of the function to a variable

and then checking if the variable is true or false, I have simply used the function

call itself as the condition. This may look a little strange, but it’s a very commonly

used shortcut. To check whether the condition is true or false, PHP executes the

function and then checks its return value—exactly what we need to happen.

Another short cut I’ve used here is to call exit with a string parameter. When

called with a parameter, exit works just like an echo statement, except that the

script exits after the string is output. So, calling exit this way is equivalent to

an echo statement followed by a call to exit with no parameters, which is what

we used for mysql_connect above.

With a connection established and a database selected, we’re ready to begin using

the data stored in the database.

Sending SQL Queries with PHP

In Chapter 2, we connected to the MySQL database server using a program called

mysql that allowed us to type SQL queries (commands) and view the results of

those queries immediately. In PHP, a similar mechanism exists: the mysql_query


mysql_query(query[, connection_id])

Here query is a string that contains the SQL command we want to execute. As

with mysql_select_db, the connection identifier parameter is optional.

What this function returns will depend on the type of query being sent. For most

SQL commands, mysql_query returns either true or false to indicate success or

failure respectively. Consider the following example, which attempts to create

the joke table we created in Chapter 2:

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Sending SQL Queries with PHP

$sql = ‘CREATE TABLE joke (


joketext TEXT,

jokedate DATE NOT NULL


if (@mysql_query($sql)) {

echo ‘<p>joke table successfully created!</p>’;

} else {

exit(‘<p>Error creating joke table: ‘ .

mysql_error() . ‘</p>’);


Again, we use the @ trick to suppress any error messages produced by mysql_query,

and instead print out a friendlier error message of our own. The mysql_error

function used here returns a string of text that describes the last error message

that was sent by the MySQL server.

For DELETE, INSERT, and UPDATE queries (which serve to modify stored data),

MySQL also keeps track of the number of table rows (entries) that were affected

by the query. Consider the SQL command below, which we used in Chapter 2

to set the dates of all jokes that contained the word “chicken”:

$sql = “UPDATE joke SET jokedate=’1994-04-01′

WHERE joketext LIKE ‘%chicken%'”;

When we execute this query, we can use the mysql_affected_rows function to

view the number of rows that were affected by this update:

if (@mysql_query($sql)) {

echo ‘<p>Update affected ‘ . mysql_affected_rows() .

‘ rows.</p>’;

} else {

exit(‘<p>Error performing update: ‘ . mysql_error() .



SELECT queries are treated a little differently, as they can retrieve a lot of data,

and PHP must provide ways to handle that information.

Handling SELECT Result Sets

For most SQL queries, the mysql_query function returns either true (success) or

false (failure). For SELECT queries, this just isn’t enough. You’ll recall that SELECT

queries are used to view stored data in the database. In addition to indicating

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Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

whether the query succeeded or failed, PHP must also receive the results of the

query. Thus, when it processes a SELECT query, mysql_query returns a number

that identifies a result set, which contains a list of all the rows (entries) returned

from the query. False is still returned if the query fails for any reason.

$result = @mysql_query(‘SELECT JokeText FROM Jokes’);

if (!$result) {

exit(‘<p>Error performing query: ‘ . mysql_error() .



Provided that no error was encountered in processing the query, the above code

will place a number into the variable $result. This number corresponds to a

result set that contains the text of all the jokes stored in the joke table. As there’s

no practical limit on the number of jokes in the database, that result set can be

pretty big.

We mentioned before that the while loop is a useful control structure for dealing

with large amounts of data. Here’s an outline of the code that will process the

rows in a result set one at a time:

while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)) {

// process the row…


The condition for the while loop probably doesn’t resemble the conditions you’re

used to, so let me explain how it works. Consider the condition as a statement

all by itself:

$row = mysql_fetch_array($result);

The mysql_fetch_array function accepts a result set number as a parameter

(stored in the $result variable in this case), and returns the next row in the

result set as an array (see Chapter 3 for a discussion of arrays). When there are

no more rows in the result set, mysql_fetch_array instead returns false.

Now, the above statement assigns a value to the $row variable, but, at the same

time, the whole statement itself takes on that same value. This is what lets you

use the statement as a condition in the while loop. Since a while loop will keep

looping until its condition evaluates to false, this loop will occur as many times

as there are rows in the result set, with $row taking on the value of the next row

each time the loop executes. All that’s left to  out is how to get the values

out of the $row variable each time the loop runs.

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Handling SELECT Result Sets

Rows of a result set returned by mysql_fetch_array are represented as associative

arrays. The indices are named after the table columns in the result set. If $row is

a row in our result set, then $row[‘joketext’] is the value in the joketext

column of that row. So here’s what our while loop should look like if we want

to print the text of all the jokes in our database:

while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)) {

echo ‘<p>’ . $row[‘joketext’] . ‘</p>’;


To summarize, here’s the complete code of a PHP Web page that will connect

to our database, fetch the text of all the jokes in the database, and display them

in HTML paragraphs:

File: jokelist.php

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>Our List of Jokes</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />




// Connect to the database server

$dbcnx = @mysql_connect(‘localhost’, ‘root’, ‘mypasswd’);

if (!$dbcnx) {

exit(‘<p>Unable to connect to the ‘ .

‘database server at this time.</p>’);


// Select the jokes database

if (!@mysql_select_db(‘ijdb’)) {

exit(‘<p>Unable to locate the joke ‘ .

‘database at this time.</p>’);



<p>Here are all the jokes in our database:</p>



// Request the text of all the jokes

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Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

$result = @mysql_query(‘SELECT joketext FROM joke’);

if (!$result) {

exit(‘<p>Error performing query: ‘ . mysql_error() . ‘</p>’);


// Display the text of each joke in a paragraph

while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)) {

echo ‘<p>’ . $row[‘joketext’] . ‘</p>’;






 4.2 shows what this page looks like once you’ve added a couple of jokes

to the database.

 4.2. All my best material—in one place!

Inserting Data into the Database

In this section, we’ll see how we can use the tools at our disposal to allow site

visitors to add their own jokes to the database. If you enjoy a challenge, you

might want to try to  this out on your own before you read any further.

There is little new material in this section, but it’s mostly just a sample application

that incorporates everything we’ve learned so far.

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Inserting Data into the Database

If you want to let visitors to your site type in new jokes, you’ll obviously need a

form. Here’s the code for a form that will fit the bill:

File: jokes.php (excerpt)

<form action=”<?php echo $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]; ?>” method=”post”>

<label>Type your joke here:<br />

<textarea name=”joketext” rows=”10″ cols=”40″>

</textarea></label><br />

<input type=”submit” value=”SUBMIT” />


 4.3 shows what this form looks like in a browser.

 4.3. Another nugget of comic genius is added to the


As we’ve seen before, when submitted, this form will load the very same page

(because we used the $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’] variable for the form’s action attribute)

with one difference: a variable will be attached to the request. The variable,

joketext, will contain the text of the joke as typed into the text area, and

will appear in the $_POST and $_REQUEST arrays created by PHP.

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Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

To insert the submitted joke into the database, we use mysql_query to run an

INSERT query, using the value stored in $_POST[‘joketext’] to fill in the joketext

column in the query:

File: jokes.php (excerpt)

if (isset($_POST[‘joketext’])) {

$joketext = $_POST[‘joketext’];

$sql = “INSERT INTO joke SET



if (@mysql_query($sql)) {

echo ‘<p>Your joke has been added.</p>’;

} else {

echo ‘<p>Error adding submitted joke: ‘ .

mysql_error() . ‘</p>’;



The one new trick in this example is shown in bold. The MySQL function

CURDATE() is used here to assign the current date as the value of the jokedate

column. MySQL actually has dozens of these functions, but we’ll introduce them

only as required. For a complete MySQL function reference, refer to Appendix B.

We now have the code that will allow a user to type a joke and add it to our

database. All that remains is to slot it into our existing joke viewing page in a

useful fashion. As most users will only want to view jokes, we don’t want to mar

our page with a big, ugly form unless the user expresses an interest in adding a

new joke. For this reason, our application is well suited for implementation as a

multipurpose page. Here’s the full code:

File: jokes.php

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>The Internet Joke Database</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<?php if (isset($_GET[‘addjoke’])): // User wants to add a joke


<form action=”<?php echo $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]; ?>” method=”post”>

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Inserting Data into the Database

<label>Type your joke here:<br />

<textarea name=”joketext” rows=”10″ cols=”40″>

</textarea></label><br />

<input type=”submit” value=”SUBMIT” />


<?php else: // Default page display

// Connect to the database server

$dbcnx = @mysql_connect(‘localhost’, ‘root’, ‘mypasswd’);

if (!$dbcnx) {

exit(‘<p>Unable to connect to the ‘ .

‘database server at this time.</p>’);


// Select the jokes database

if (!@mysql_select_db(‘ijdb’)) {

exit(‘<p>Unable to locate the joke ‘ .

‘database at this time.</p>’);


// If a joke has been submitted,

// add it to the database.

if (isset($_POST[‘joketext’])) {

$joketext = $_POST[‘joketext’];

$sql = “INSERT INTO joke SET



if (@mysql_query($sql)) {

echo ‘<p>Your joke has been added.</p>’;

} else {

echo ‘<p>Error adding submitted joke: ‘ .

mysql_error() . ‘</p>’;



echo ‘<p>Here are all the jokes in our database:</p>’;

// Request the text of all the jokes

$result = @mysql_query(‘SELECT joketext FROM joke’);

if (!$result) {

exit(‘<p>Error performing query: ‘ .

mysql_error() . ‘</p>’);


// Display the text of each joke in a paragraph

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Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)) {

echo ‘<p>’ . $row[‘joketext’] . ‘</p>’;


// When clicked, this link will load this page

// with the joke submission form displayed.

echo ‘<p><a href=”‘ . $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’] .

‘?addjoke=1″>Add a Joke!</a></p>’;





Load this up and add a new joke or two to the database via your browser. The

resulting page should look like  4.4.

 4.4. Look, Ma! No SQL!

There we go! With a single file that contains a little PHP code, we’re able to view

existing jokes in, and add new jokes to, our MySQL database.

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Inserting Data into the Database

A Challenge

As “homework”, see if you can  out how to place next to each joke on the

page a link labelled Delete this joke that, when clicked, will remove that joke from

the database and display the updated joke list. Here are a few hints to get you


_ You’ll still be able to do it all in a single multipurpose page.

_ You’ll need to use the SQL DELETE command, which we learned about in

Chapter 2.

_ This is the tough one: to delete a particular joke, you’ll need to be able to

identify it uniquely. The id column in the joke table was designed to serve

this purpose. You’re going to have to pass the ID of the joke to be deleted

with the request to delete a joke. The query string of the Delete this joke link

is a perfect place to put this value.

If you think you have the answer, or if you’d just like to see the solution, turn

the page. Good luck!


In this chapter, you learned some new PHP functions that allow you to interface

with a MySQL database server. Using these functions, you built your first database-

driven Website, which published the ijdb database online, and allowed

visitors to add jokes to it.

In Chapter 5, we go back to the MySQL command line. We’ll learn how to use

relational database principles and advanced SQL queries to represent more

complex types of information, and give our visitors credit for the jokes they add!

“Homework” Solution

Here’s the solution to the “homework” challenge posed above. These changes

were required to insert a Delete this joke link next to each joke:

_ Previously, we passed an addjoke variable with our Add a Joke! link at the

bottom of the page to signal that our script should display the joke entry form,

instead of the usual list of jokes. In a similar fashion, we pass a deletejoke

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Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

variable with our Delete this joke link to indicate our desire to have a joke


_ For each joke, we fetch the id column from the database, along with the

joketext column, so that we know which ID is associated with each joke in

the database.

_ We set the value of the $_GET[‘deletejoke’] variable to the ID of the joke

that we’re deleting. To do this, we insert the ID value fetched from the database

into the HTML code for the Delete this joke link of each joke.

_ Using an if statement, we watch to see if $_GET[‘deletejoke’] is set to a

particular value (through the isset function) when the page loads. If it is,

we use the value to which it is set (the ID of the joke to be deleted) in an SQL

DELETE statement that deletes the joke in question.

Here’s the complete code. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post them

in the SitePoint Forums[1]!

File: challenge.php

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN””&gt;

<html xmlns=””&gt;


<title>The Internet Joke Database</title>

<meta http-equiv=”content-type”

content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />



<?php if (isset($_GET[‘addjoke’])): // User wants to add a joke


<form action=”<?php echo $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]; ?>” method=”post”>

<label>Type your joke here:<br />

<textarea name=”joketext” rows=”10″ cols=”40″>

</textarea></label><br />

<input type=”submit” value=”SUBMIT” />


<?php else: // Default page display

// Connect to the database server

$dbcnx = @mysql_connect(‘localhost’, ‘root’, ‘mypasswd’);


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“Homework” Solution

if (!$dbcnx) {

exit(‘<p>Unable to connect to the ‘ .

‘database server at this time.</p>’);


// Select the jokes database

if (!@mysql_select_db(‘ijdb’)) {

exit(‘<p>Unable to locate the joke ‘ .

‘database at this time.</p>’);


// If a joke has been submitted,

// add it to the database.

if (isset($_POST[‘joketext’])) {

$joketext = $_POST[‘joketext’];

$sql = “INSERT INTO joke SET



if (@mysql_query($sql)) {

echo ‘<p>Your joke has been added.</p>’;

} else {

echo ‘<p>Error adding submitted joke: ‘ .

mysql_error() . ‘</p>’;



// If a joke has been deleted,

// remove it from the database.

if (isset($_GET[‘deletejoke’])) {

$jokeid = $_GET[‘deletejoke’];

$sql = “DELETE FROM joke

WHERE id=$jokeid”;

if (@mysql_query($sql)) {

echo ‘<p>The joke has been deleted.</p>’;

} else {

echo ‘<p>Error deleting joke: ‘ .

mysql_error() . ‘</p>’;



echo ‘<p> Here are all the jokes in our database: </p>’;

// Request the ID and text of all the jokes

$result = @mysql_query(‘SELECT id, joketext FROM joke’);

if (!$result) {

exit(‘<p>Error performing query: ‘ .

82 Order this 350 page hard-copy PHP/MySQL book now!

Chapter 4: Publishing MySQL Data on the Web

mysql_error() . ‘</p>’);


// Display the text of each joke in a paragraph

// with a “Delete this joke” link next to each.

while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)) {

$jokeid = $row[‘id’];

$joketext = $row[‘joketext’];

echo ‘<p>’ . $joketext .

‘ <a href=”‘ . $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’] .

‘?deletejoke=’ . $jokeid . ‘”>’ .

‘Delete this joke</a></p>’;


// When clicked, this link will load this page

// with the joke submission form displayed.

echo ‘<p><a href=”‘ . $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’] .

‘?addjoke=1″>Add a Joke!</a></p>’;





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