PHP’s undisputed strength is in developing web applications, so that is what we will mostly be building throughout this course. This guide will show you how to get up and running in 30 minutes or less.

What do I need?

There are four critical components for developing and running any decent web application:

  1. PHP itself,
  2. A web server,
  3. A database server,
  4. A good Integrated Development Environment (IDE) - largely, a specialized editor)

Collectively, these applications form what is called a PHP stack, the two most widely used flavors being the LAMP and WAMP stacks:

  • Linux / Windows
  • Apache
  • MySQL
  • PHP

Since Windows is the most common operating system, this book will focus on the WAMP stack, although the PHP devs have taken good care that moving from one operating system to another is fairly effortless, and I’ll be sure to point out the few gotchas later.

Any tips?

Fortunately, over the years the installation process has been dramatically simplified. No more pouring over 100-step manuals, no, now it’s just point-click-install, more or less.

The easiest and most direct way to use a meta-installer that does everything in one scoop. This guide covers the meta-installer Z-Wamp, as I view it as easier to install and extend for beginners, but you will find they’re both stand-up and largely the same.

So go on over to Z-Wamp’s website, download it and unzip it to your C:\ drive. Then go into the directory and double-click “zwamp.exe” to start it.

You should now be able to go to http://localhost/ and see the WampServer welcome screen.

A Common Gotcha

Apache, the web server installed by WampServer, uses ports 80 and 443, the default for Internet sites. However, some programs — in an effort to not be blocked by restrictive IT policies — reserve these ports for themselves, usually superficially. One of the biggest offenders of this is Skype, which by default reserves ports 80 and 443 even when they are not needed. In order to continue this course, you should consider disabling this functionality by following this guide.

Once you clear up the port 80 offender, left click on the Z-Wamp taskbar icon (it looks like a house) and click “Restart.” http://localhost/ should now be accessible.