E.2. Middle Tier Resources
This section lists resources that
contain more information on the Apache web server, web performance
tuning, networking, PHP programming, and third-party PHP add-ons
including Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), script
optimization tools, and commercially supported installation packages.
E.2.1. Web Server and Web Technology Resources
More information on the Apache web server can be found in the
The local documentation installed with the Apache web server. After
following the Apache installation instructions in Appendix A, the Apache manual is accessible as
The Apache HTTP Server web site: http://httpd.apache.org.
Apache: The Definitive Guide, B. Laurie and P.
Laurie (O'Reilly). Oriented around the directives
that can be used in the httpd.conf file.
More information on web servers, web performance tuning, and web
performance modeling and traffic characteristics can be found in the
Web Performance Tuning, P. Killelea
Capacity Planning for Web Performance: Metrics, Models, and
Methods, D. A. Menascé and V. A. F. Almeida
Here are some good background books that cover a range of topics in
the middle tier, focusing on web servers and web technology, but are
slightly out of date:
How to Set Up and Maintain a Web Site, L.D.
Stein (Addison Wesley).
Web Server Technology: The Advanced Guide for World Wide
Web Information Providers, N.J. Yeager and R. E. McGrath
(Morgan Kaufmann Publishers).
E.2.2. Networking and Web Resources
The W3C web site:http://www.w3.org/History.html. This URL provides a good
starting point that includes pages containing many links, time lines,
growth statistics, and other useful resources.
Internet Core Protocols, E. Hall and V. Cerf
(O'Reilly). This book offers a good introduction to
the protocols of the Web.
The HTTP/1.0 specification is contained in RFC-1945 and is found on
the IETF web site at http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1945.txt.
The HTTP/1.1 specification is contained in RFC-2616 and is found on
the IETF web site at http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2616.txt.
The Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI): Generic Syntax specification
is contained in RFC-2396 and is found on the IETF web site at
RFC-1180: TCP/IP Tutorial, T. Socolofsky and C.
Kale. This RFC provides a tutorial on how data is passed through a
TCP/IP network and can be found at: ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc1180.txt.
E.2.3. More About PHP
This book can't replace an introductory programming
book or any of the excellent PHP resources that are available in
add-on products or from the Web. This section is a brief overview of
There are now more than 20 books covering PHP, and many of these also
introduce interaction with the MySQL DBMS. We recommend the following
books—in no particular order—as offering good coverage of
PHP scripting topics:
A Programmer's Introduction to PHP
4.0, W. Gilmore (Apress Publishing). Designed for
moderately experienced programmers who are new to PHP.
Beginning PHP4, C. Lea, W. Choi, A. Kent, G.
Prasad, and C. Ullman (WROX Press). Recommended for novice
PHP Essentials, J. Meloni (Prima Publishing).
Recommended for novice developers who are interested in introductory
web database topics as well as PHP.
PHP Bible, T. Converse and J. Park (Hungry
Minds, Inc.). Recommended for novice programmers. More than half the
689 pages cover PHP programming.
PHP Fast & Easy Web Development, J. Meloni
(Prima Publishing). Recommended for beginners.
PHP3: Programming Browser-Based Applications with
PHP, D. Medinets and D. Medinets (McGraw-Hill).
Recommended for intermediate programmers, but the book is written
about PHP3 and doesn't include many of the new
features that are core to development in PHP4
Programming PHP, by R. Lerdorf and K. Tatroe
(O'Reilly). A good introduction to PHP.
Many books omitted from this list are also excellent books, but they
may focus more on web database topics than on PHP, or they overlap
significantly with the content of this book. A detailed and
frequently updated list of all PHP and related books can be found
E.2.3.2. Web resources
The best place to start is to check the list of links at the official
PHP site, http://www.php.net/links.php.
Here are some resources we frequently use:
The annotated online PHP manual at the official PHP site. Includes
many comments for each library and function and tips on use and
common problems encountered.
Site of the commercial company held by long-term developers of PHP.
Includes articles, resources, free code, and tutorials.
Articles, tips, tutorials, and scripts; includes many tutorials on
installation in a variety of environments.
Scripts, code fragments, and documentation.
Articles, documentation, and code fragments.
Tutorial-style articles on a range of PHP topics.
A simple, low-bandwidth site that contains PHP code fragments and
some complete applications.
Julie Meloni's site that supports her two books
described in the last section. Includes code and tutorials, some of
which aren't covered in the books.
PHP has many libraries available for most common tasks in web
database applications. In this section, we list most of the PHP
libraries and point to other chapters in which selected libraries are
discussed in more detail. For most libraries, we provide brief or
only partial information.
The following is an alphabetically sorted list of the libraries:
- Apache HTTP server functions
Includes a function to retrieve all HTTP headers,
- Array functions
There are almost 50 functions to sort, merge, split, iteratively
process, and return information about arrays. We discuss many of
these functions in detail in Chapter 2.
- BCMath arbitrary precision mathematics functions
A library of functions to perform high-precision calculations with
- Bzip compression functions
Tools to read and write files compressed with Julian
Seward's highly effective compression algorithm;
however, it's a bit slow compared to
- Calendar functions
For conversion between various calendars, including the Jewish and
Gregorian calendars, and for finding the date of Easter.
- CCVS API functions
RedHat's solution for credit card transaction
- Character type functions
Additional string functions to check what characters are contained
within a string. These can be used as a replacement for or in
addition to the validation methods described in Chapter 7.
- ClibPDF function library
Requires purchase of a license if used for commercial applications:
The ClibPDF library accesses a set of C functions for creating Adobe
PDF documents. The C library ClibPDF is available from http://www.fastio.com along with a licensing
- CURL (client URL library) functions
Functions that communicate with resources using the FTP, gopher,
HTTP, LDAP, Telnet, and other protocols.
- Database functions
The MySQL library functions are discussed in detail in Chapter 4, with additional information on some functions
in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6. Techniques for using the other
DBMS libraries to connect to selected DBMSs are discussed briefly at
the end of Chapter 4. Many other DBMS libraries
are also available and detailed in the PHP manual; we
don't discuss them here.
- Date and time functions
The basics of date and time functions are described in Chapter 2. Examples are also discussed in Chapter 7.
- Direct IO functions
A function library that accesses a file descriptor. The library is
C-like in functionality, and C programmers will feel at home with the
- Directory functions
Changes directories in the filesystem, list files in a directory, etc.
- Error handling and logging functions
Functions to change error reporting. Controlling the severity of PHP
errors that are detected for debugging purposes is discussed in Chapter 2, and custom error handlers are discussed in
- Encryption functions
Selected encryption functions for producing cipher-text from plain
text—and reversing the process—are discussed in Chapter 9.
- eXtensible Markup Language (XML) functions
XML is a data format for structured document interchange, and this
library provides tools to parse and retrieve components of XML
- Filesystem functions
Retrieves information about files, creates and modifies attributes of
files, reads and writes files, and performs many other low-level file
- Forms Data Format functions
Tools to handle form data sent using the Forms Data Format (FDF)
that's part of Adobe's PDF
Functions that implement the File Transfer Protocol.
- Functions functions
Seriously! A set of functions that inspects whether a function exists
and returns details, such as the number of parameters to a function.
- GNU teletext
A GNU project to internationalize programs by making substitution of
program output messages in different languages easier.
- GMP functions
More math functions for arbitrary-length integers using the GNU MP
library; an alternative to the BCMath library described earlier in
- HTTP functions
The header( ) function creates HTTP headers in a
response to a web browser. It is discussed and used in examples in
Chapter 5 to Chapter 13. The
function setcookie( ) sets a cookie in a web
browser and is discussed in Chapter 8.
- Hyperwave functions
This library offers functions to access the Hyperwave information
system or document database. Use of the library requires purchase of
the enterprise Hyperwave Information Server.
- Image and graphics functions
Contains over 50 functions to draw images and render true-type fonts
using the GD library.
- IMAP, POP3, and NNTP functions
Network-oriented functions that use these protocols to retrieve and
process email messages and Internet news postings.
- IRC gateway
Functions to access an Internet relay chat (IRC) gateway. IRC is an
Internet-base chat room.
- Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) functions
Tools to connect to and retrieve information from servers that store
hierarchical directory information using LDAP.
- Mail functions
Really one function, mail( ), to send an email
to a destination; discussed in Chapter 12.
- Mathematical functions
Functions to do just about anything to a number, but not to very
large numbers (for those, use the BCMath or the GMP library); for
example, the mathematical library includes trigonometry, random
number generation, logarithm, and exponential functions. Many of
these are discussed in Chapter 2.
- Modular Calendar Access Library (MCAL) functions
Tools to access and manage an event calendar, such as a desktop
diary, that is managed the underlying MCAL C library.
- Ming functions for Flash
Tools that allows creation of Flash format movies.
- mnoGoSearch functions
Functions that access the freely available text search engine
- Network functions
Networking libraries for high- and low-level network communications;
for example, includes functions to check if a domain name exists, and
convert numeric IP addresses to domain names and vice versa. A short
background on networking can be found in Appendix B
- Output control
Manages the buffering of output by PHP, allowing control of the PHP
script engine's output.
- PDF functions
Functions that create and manipulate Adobe Portable Document Format
- POSIX functions
Functions that get information about processes, users, and other
system-oriented aspects of functions defined in the IEEE 1003.1
(POSIX.1) standards document.
- Program execution functions
These are discussed briefly in the context of securing a web database
application in Chapter 5.
- Pspell functions
Spelling functions that can not only check spelling but also make
suggestions for corrections.
- GNU Re-code functions
Functions that convert strings from one character set to another.
- Regular expressions
Along with the string functions, an introduction to regular
expression functions is covered in Chapter 2. (We
cover only the native regular expression library that conforms to the
POSIX 1003.2 standard, not the Perl-compatible regular expressions
- Satellite CORBA client extension functions
Functions that can access and use CORBA distributed objects.
- Semaphore and shared memory functions
Functions based on Unix System V semaphores that allow multiple users
controlled access to shared resources such as global variables in
- Session management functions
These functions are covered in detail in Chapter 8; an alternate session management module is
discussed in Appendix D.
- SHMOP shared memory functions
These functions duplicate the functionality of the System V shared
memory tools described previously, but without some of the overheads
in creating and managing shared memory spaces.
- Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) functions
Functions that interact with SNMP agents to find available objects
and to set those objects.
- SWF Shockwave Flash functions
Another function library to create and use Flash format movies, with
overlapping functionality to the Ming library described earlier.
- Socket functions
Low-level network libraries to open, send, and receive data, and
close network sockets (sockets are often loosely referred to as
ports, which are discussed in Appendix B). Has some
overlap with the network library, but the socket library is more
concerned with low-level networking tasks.
- String functions
The popular string functions are discussed in detail in Chapter 2.
- URL (Uniform Resource Locator) functions
Tools that encode and decode MIME base64 encoded data used in HTTP
and email, that encode and decode special characters from URLs, and
that parse a URL and return its components.
- Variable functions
Variable functions for determining and setting types are covered in
- Web Distributed Data eXchange (WDDX) libraries
Tools that process the XML-like format used in the open standard WDDX
format, a standard that permits interchange of data between
web-scripting languages such as PHP, ASP, and ColdFusion. More
information about the WDDX Software Development Kit (SDK) can be
found at http://www.openwddx.org.
- XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) functions
XSLT is a language for transforming XML documents from one standard
XML format to another.
- YAZ functions
A library that implements the Z39.50 protocol for information
retrieval. Z39.50 can be used, for example, to issue a remote search
on a text database and to return results in a standard format.
- YP/NIS functions
Tools that manage network functions remotely, such as password files.
- Zlib compression functions
A set of functions to read and write gzip files
compressed using the algorithms of Jean-Loup Gailly and Mark Adler.
Several of these function libraries are immature and are dynamically
being improved and changed. New libraries emerge every month. Some
libraries are outdated, and the projects that underlie them are
inactive. However, for most libraries, several successful
installations and uses have been reported, and the latest details can
usually be found along with example code at the PHP web site in the
annotated manual, http://www.php.net/manual/.
We have omitted any discussion of wholly redundant libraries, those
used exclusively with Microsoft Windows, very new libraries, unstable
libraries, and those libraries that aren't used in
E.2.3.4. Third-party products
- Zend Optimizer
A freely available code optimizer that improves the performance of
the intermediate code generated by the Zend scripting engine. The
Zend web site is http://www.zend.com.
- DBG: PHP Debugger
A free interactive debugger for PHP that includes a code profiler
that finds code bottlenecks. Available for Microsoft Windows and
Linux, and licensed under the same license as PHP. Available from:
BWare have recently released this free caching tool that caches PHP
precompiled scripts in the web server for fast execution when a
script is run a second or subsequent time. The afterBurner source
code is available from http://afterburner.bware.it.
- Alternative PHP Cache (APC)
An alternative free PHP script caching tool that is covered by the
same license agreement as PHP itself. The APC source is available
Zend is a company held by long-term developers of the PHP script
engine. Their web site, http://www.zend.com, sells several commercial
- Zend Cache
Tool that integrates with the Zend engine to better cache scripts,
prevent some scripts being cached, and reduce latency. If
high-throughput of a web database application is required, Zend Cache
is a useful tool.
- Zend Encoder
Tool that converts text scripts to an intermediate format that can be
distributed, offering reasonable protection of copyright and the
intellectual property in scripts.
- Zend IDE
New integrated development environment for PHP that includes a
customizable editor, syntax highlighting, and a debugger.
- Zend Launchpad
Tool that allows systems administrators to maintain their PHP
installation through upgrades. It also guides administrators through
the PHP installation process and assists in selecting tools
NuSphere market several products that include and support PHP through
their web site http://www.nusphere.com. NuSphere products
have optional additional email, web, and phone support.
Here's a list:
NuSphere MySQL and NuSphere MySQL Advantage are commercial products
that bundle together Apache, MySQL, and PHP with installation tools
and other supplementary products. As discussed in Appendix A, a free package is available for download.
NuSphere PHPEd Advantage is a commercial package that includes PHP,
MySQL, and Apache as well as PHPEd, a PHP integrated development
environment (IDE) for Microsoft Windows, and other supplementary
ActiveState offer an IDE for Microsoft Windows and Linux called ASPN
Komodo. Komodo can be used for free under the Linux operating system
or for free under the Microsoft Windows environment by students, home
users, and nonprofit organizations. A commercial license for
Microsoft Windows is required for other uses. Komodo is available
There are several other IDEs for PHP available including the PHPub
development environment, K PHP Develop, tsWebEditor, PHP Coder, and
E.2.3.5. Open source PHP applications
The following are popular examples of open source web database
applications. Most either provide good solutions to common
application requirements, or make excellent starting points for
developing components or systems. The list isn't
intended to be comprehensive but instead are representative examples
of different application types.
A URL bookmarking management system, http://www.renaghan.com/pcr/bookmarker.html
Web site content management system for managing small- to medium-size
web sites, http://www.basitonline.com/en/
Web-based news and announcement system, http://bplog.blackplasma.net
- dev/coin online shop
For building simple online stores, http://www.devcon.net/software/shop/
A system to automatically send out emails about birthdays and other
A customer billing and payment management system, http://sourceforge.net/projects/gcdb/
The Humble Portal Engine that brings together content to build a news
The Incyte Project Manager for tracking and managing projects,
- Les Visiteurs
A web site statistical analysis package for analyzing and producing
information about site accesses, http://www.phpinfo.net/applis/visiteurs/
A software development bug tracking system, http://mantisbt.sourceforge.net
An email, calendar, contact, and event management system, http://phorecast.org
A web-based bulletin board forum, http://phorum.org
A visitor guestbook, http://www.bastian-friedrich.de/comp/guestbook/
A system to track your DVD collection, http://ugo.scarlata.it/?pid=phpdvd
A PHP-based chat room, http://www.phpheaven.net/projects/phpMyChat/
Reusable components to build an online shop, http://www.phpshop.org
A self-described rogue content management system, http://www.postnuke.com
Copyright © 2003 O'Reilly & Associates. All rights reserved.