Twenty years ago today, Rasmus Lerdorf, the creator of PHP announced to the world the release of a collection of scripts to help developers build web pages that do more than HMTL can do on its own. Here we are, 20 years later and PHP is running something like 80% of the web. That’s pretty impressive! I’ve been working with PHP for most of that time but haven’t ever written down how that came to be. I started working on PHP back in the late 90’s, probably 1998 based on what I remember. I’ve thought it was 1997 but based on the timeframe, I don’t think that is right. I remember working with PHP 3 and then shortly afterwards upgrading to PHP 4.
My start with PHP happened back in college. One of my professors had some NSF (National Science Foundation) money for the ACM-W (Association of Computing Machinery’s Women in Computing) to build something that would allow you to more easily find articles about women in computing/technology. At this time, Google was basically a twinkle in the eye of Page and Brin. So I did some research about how I could get something on the web. I think ASP was there but that came with licensing. I stumbled on PHP and a few tutorials from WebMonkey.com. I’m certain this was not great code and the site I produced was likely jammed full of SQL injection and XSS issues and some terrible database design (model tables after Excel spreadsheets anyone?). But we had a working interactive site that allowed users to search and find articles about women in tech and computing. You could search by author, title, publication, year, etc. It was AMAZING. Much of it was extremely procedural and definitely mixed PHP with HTML. I built, ran and tested it on a server called OmniHTTP because it was available for free on windows and I could hook PHP into it.
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Just in case anyone is reading this, I will be presenting twice next week on integrating Zend Framework and Flex together. I’ll be presenting at the Front Range PHP User group on Tuesday, July 13 from 7:00-9:00 at the Big Game Restaurant in downtown Denver. More information can be found on the meetings page. After that I’ll be presenting at the Denver RIA Developer’s Group on Thursday, July 15, from 6:00-7:00. More information can be found on their events page.
In both cases, I’ll be co-presenting with Jay Whipple of 111ELM Design. Each presentation will be similar but we’ll be emphasizing different things for each group. For instance, the Front Range PHP User group likely won’t need much if any background on PHP and Zend Framework, so the presentation will concentrate more on the Flex side of things and how to integrate Flex and Zend Framework from the Flex side of things while the Denver RIA developer presentation will go more in depth on the Zend Framework and PHP side since most of the attendees will likely already know how to integrate into server-side services, but not necessarily how to create them in PHP with Zend Framework.
To give a brief overview, it’s ridiculously simple to use Flash Builder to consume a PHP class as a service using Flex’s built in Data Services. However, to use these, Flash Builder requires that you place your class in the web root of your web server which is not a very good practice and really runs quite contrary to best practices. In this presentation we’ll show you how to expose services using Zend Framework’s MVC and Zend_AMF while still maintaining a good structure and keeping your classes out of your web root. In reality, it’s only a little bit more work to hook Flex into your PHP application.
If you’re planning on coming to either presentation please follow the links and RSVP as there will be food and beverages provided at both.