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PHP is not restricted to use by professional Web developers. Nor do you have to be an IT administration professional. Just like any scripting language, PHP can seem complicated at first glance. But if you persevere, you'll see that this is an interesting and accessible technology. It's also a good way of gaining an understanding of the server-side world.

Tools such as EasyPHP help to make PHP available to all of us. The key step in getting started with the technology is to have a PHP-enabled Web server, and the EasyPHP tool is a good place to start. EasyPHP includes embedded copies of both the Apache Web server and MySQL, so you won't have to spend much time getting the tools ready for use. Some books on PHP spend many pages describing the steps required to configure the Apache Web server for PHP use. This is welcome information if you'll be using Apache, because getting Apache ready for PHP isn't easy. In contrast, the time investment required for getting EasyPHP up and running is very small.

Writing PHP code is also relatively unintimidating right from the start. You can get your first piece of PHP code operational in a few minutes. The nice thing about EasyPHP is that it handles most of the startup complexity, leaving you free to learn about the PHP language.

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