Originally created in 1995 and named using an acronym of the term personal home page, PHP is a web development scripting language that is utilized to create dynamic, text-based website pages. The acronym has developed over time and is now known to refer to the language’s use as a PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. The system can be used on the majority of server units and is available without charge for use on all of the major operating systems (OSs). To assist in the development of website pages through the scripting language, several software-based PHP tools have been created to provide more control to developers. These tools include designers, viewers, debuggers, and security encoding programs, among others.
Created to simplify the development process when utilizing the scripting language, PHP tools assist in common tasks, such as editing, encoding, and debugging program code. These applications exist with the core aim of making the development process of PHP scripts as quick and easy as possible. The dense code of standard PHP scripts can make identifying and addressing errors a time-consuming task. PHP tools have been developed to streamline this task along with other operations associated with compiling and editing the script.
In terms of common usage when looking at PHP tools, certain applications are more commonplace than others. In general PHP development, a debugger is one of the key applications utilized. A PHP debugger gives full control of script execution to the programmer. Use of this tool allows the developer to run code one line at a time to isolate problem areas.
One of the biggest concerns of developers is theft of script and unauthorized code modifications; to counteract this risk, a PHP encoder can be used. An encoding tool has the ability to change source code into PHP-specific byte codes. Carrying out this encoding prevents unauthorized access to the code from external sources. An additional benefit to encoding is the operational acceleration that can be gained through running a series of PHP byte codes in comparison to standard script.
Visual PHP tools are also available in the form of designer applications and “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) tools. Designer applications provide a visual aid to search through hierarchical PHP code structure, functions, and objects. To assist in the creation of dynamic web pages, WYSIWYG PHP tools render the PHP code into a visual representation of the script. This allows the developer to view an approximation of the final page during development.