Logic’s Last Stand

April 16, 2008

Beginner’s Guide to a Real Web-site – Part 5 – PHP Programming

Filed under: Computers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zurahn @ 5:57 am

PHP is a complete programming language, as opposed to XHTML and CSS which are mark-up languages.

Programming languages have a few simple characteristics:
-Variables that store data
-Conditional statements

Variables in PHP begin with a dollar sign

$num = 1;

The above statement (which must end with a semi-colon) assigns a variable called “num” the value of 1.

Conditional statements check the value of a variable or variables.

if($num == 1)
  echo "YES!";
  echo "NO!";

The above if statement checks if the value of $num is equal to 1. If it is, the page outputs the text “YES!”, otherwise, it outputs the text “NO!”.
Anything within the { } brackets applies only for that statement.

There are other conditional operators than “==”. Here are a list of operators in PHP:
== (equal to)
=== (equal in value and in type)
! (NOT)
> (greater than)
>= (greater than or equal to)
< (less than)
<= (less than or equal to)
|| (OR)
&& (AND)

Loops repeat a section of code several times over. There are two basic kinds, the while loop and the for loop.

A for loop is designed for when you know how many times you want to go through the loop.

echo $i;

The above loop repeats 10 times, starting from 0. The loop repeats as long as $i is less than 10, and $i increments 1 each time through.
Also note
This increments the variable $i by 1. ++ is a shortcut. Equivalents to this would be
$i += 1
$i = $i + 1;

A while loop lasts while a condition is true.

$count = 0;
while($count < 10)
  echo $count;

The above loop repeats 10 times. It keeps going as long as the count, which started at 0, is less than 10. In the above case, it works identically to a for loop; however, if you have an uncertain condition, such as a random number or user-input, the number of times is unknown.

All we’re going to do to start is to receive some data from the user, then output it back.

Make a copy of index.php and call it blog.php. This will be the start of our blog page.

<?php include_once('includes/top.php'); ?>
<title>Main Page</title>
<?php include_once('includes/middle.php'); ?>
<p><h2>My Blog</h2></p>
<form method="post" action="<?php echo $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']; ?>">
<textarea name="blogpost" id="blogpost"></textarea><br />
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />
<?php include_once('includes/bottom.php'); ?>

There’s a bit to explain here. A form tag in HTML surrounds a series of data you want to send to the server (our PHP). In this case, we just want to submit the data to itself, so we echo out the page we’re on, which is stored automatically by PHP in the variable $_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]. You could just type in ‘blog.php’ to get the same effect, except it won’t work if the page gets renamed.

The input type submit sends everything within the form to the server.

Anything sent to the server (in this case with method post) in PHP will be stored in $_POST. Let’s echo out the value of the blogpost.

<?php include_once('includes/top.php'); ?>
<title>Main Page</title>
<?php include_once('includes/middle.php'); ?>
<p><h2>My Blog</h2></p>

  echo "<p>".$_POST['blogpost']."</p>";

<form method="post" action="<?php echo $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']; ?>">
<textarea name="blogpost" id="blogpost"></textarea><br />
<input type="submit" name="submit" id="submit" value="Submit" />
<?php include_once('includes/bottom.php'); ?>

All I’ve added is a check to see if there’s a value in the blogpost, and if there is, to display it in a new paragraph.

For the sake of making things look a little nicer, you can create a new CSS file called blog.css and add this to it (and don’t forget to import it into blog.php using the tag)

  width: 85%;
  border: 1px dashed white;

  border: 1px solid white;
  background-color: black;
  color: white;

Our problem now is that the blog doesn’t go anywhere. It needs to be stored in a database, which we’ll cover in Part 6.



  1. On a somewhat related note, I think that this is the programming language my MT4 software uses to create “expert advisors” for automated trading. You may find this link interesting since you’re into this kind of stuff:


    PS: It might only open in Internet Explorer (At least it doesn’t work in Opera for me.)

    Also, are you interested in using it to help me write a Warren Buffett code that will generate infinite money automatically? Sounds like an interesting summer project. 😄


    Comment by yarcofin — April 16, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  2. The language used by MT4 is MQL (MetaQuotes Language). It’s designed specifically for stock trading. It looks as though it was designed based on C#, which itself has a lot in common with Java. It’s completely proprietary to the MT4 software.

    Infinite money? I am intrigued.

    Comment by zurahn — April 16, 2008 @ 8:09 pm

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