PHP has been steadily growing in usage since the start of the millennium. It has overtaken Perl as the primary programming language for web applications and will likely dominate this area for many years to come. The language is becoming increasingly common in the corporate world in spite of the initial suspicion many had over it being a free and open source application.

One of the advantages of PHP is the ease in learning it. Enough can be picked up in a few days to create database driven web sites. The only real issue is that PHP can be difficult to install and setup, and also in installing a database server to go with it. This is easier with Linux because the typical installation includes PHP and a database, such as MySQL. If your using Windows, PHP and a database server needs to be installed manually.
Zend has provided a quick way to setup a PHP development environment with Zend Core. This is a collection of applications that installs and configures PHP. It can also install MySQL and add support to several other databases (DB2, Informix, Oracle, and SQL Server).
In Windows, PHP can be setup to work with IIS or Apache can be installed instead. Working with MySQL on the command line can be a challenge, so phpMyAdmin can be setup as well. For programmers willing to learn a robust PHP library, Zend Framework is available.
Zend Core can be installed in Windows, 32/64-bit Linux, and Macintosh OS X. This is the simplest way to create a PHP development environment which is not just for novices, but for experienced users as well. There isn’t any tinkering to make PHP or the applications it uses work properly. The advantage of using Zend Core is that it will update PHP and any of the applications that it installs. You no longer have to visit the MySQL site, for instance, to check if a new version of the database is available.
Zend Core is a free download, but requires registration with Zend first.

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