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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Many people such as myself have heard of MySQL, Perl, PHP, CGI, DHTML, Cold Fusion, Java etc, but don't really know what each of them are entirely, for example, I wouldn't know the difference between Perl and CGI, as I thought Perl was just a language for writing CGI Scripts? Also, many people don't really know the difference between Java/Javascript, and they forget that they are nothing alike. What is MySQL, I understand it has something to do with databases, but what exactly??

    I would like to know other peoples views on this, especially Wayne's and TWT. As I seem to get the best conversations out of them

    Hell.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Oh my...I've been mentioned in the same sentence as Wayne! Honestly (no sarcasm here), that is quite flattering. You've made my day.

    MySQL might be best described as a database capable of holding tens of thousands of records. Webhosts who allow it will setup a MySQL database for you...with this you can store TONS of info (it's probably capable of handling more than you'll ever need it to)...then you can use a language like PHP to pull info out of your MySQL database...

    For example, you can have two fields in your SQL database...one called "Text" and one called "Good"...the text field might have articles and such, and the "Good" field would either have "Yes" or "No", depending on whether or not you thought the article was good or not.

    You could then, for example, have a "good" page...you'd use a PHP command to tell the page to display ALL of the articles with the word "yes" in the Good field...it does this each time the page loads, which means all you have to do to add to it is add an article to the SQL database and mark the Good field "yes"...then it would be included on that Good page. Entire sites can be run this way, just with many more fields and more complex commands. SitePoint is a perfect example.

    As for Perl and CGI...yup, Perl is a language and CGI is more like a method...CGI scripts can be written in Cold Fusion and I think PHP and ASP as well...I could be wrong though.

    Java I think is a bit more powerful, but is not a good idea in terms of webpages for the most part. Java is (I think) generally used for large applets. JavaScript seems to be used for smaller tasks in most cases. For example, displaying the current date.

    I'm sure Wayne can provide more accurate descriptions, these are just my take on them.


    ------------------
    Chris Bowyer - Programmer in Training
    MyCoding.com: Join our mailing list for launch notification!
    "I'm not an insomniac, I'm a web designer."

    [This message has been edited by TWTCommish (edited July 12, 2000).]

  3. #3
    ********* Addict
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    Javascript is also the way to do rollovers and onclick or onload commands.

    ------------------
    Street Bikers United - protecting the rights of motorcyclists worldwide.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Author Kevin Yank's Avatar
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    Some quick definitions:

    MySQL: A free relational database management engine, this program runs on a computer to provide access to one or more databases. Just like Apache is a Web page server, MySQL is a database server. Just as browsers use HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) to request and download Web pages, programmers can use SQL (Structured Query Language) to communicate with a MySQL server and request information stored in a database. Since it is free for most uses, MySQL is a very popular solution for creating databases for content-driven Web sites.

    Perl: A scripting language with many potential applications. Perl is a language that excels at manipulation of text. As such, it has become a popular language for writing dynamic Web pages. Perl scripts can be installed either as CGI programs (see below) or as server-side scripts (see below).

    PHP: Same as Perl, but with simpler syntax (i.e. easier to learn). Designed for use as a server-side scripting language (whereas Perl was not originally designed for use on the Web). This language bears similarities to other common languages (Perl, C/C++, Java, JavaScript), to make it easy for existing programmers to use.

    ASP: A framework for running scripting languages like VisualBasic and JavaScript as server-side scripting languages (see below). Developed by Microsoft, this is only really supported by Microsoft-brand Web Server software. As a solution for creating dynamic Web sites, ASP basically fills the same role as PHP, but with some degree of freedom in your choice of programming language. The tradeoff is a loss of freedom in your choice of Web server software.

    CGI: Common Gateway Interface, the standard which allows a Web server to execute an external program and send its output to a Web browser that requested it. This was the original method of creating dynamic Web applications. You can write a program in C/C++, Perl, or whatever language you want, and tell the Web server to treat it as a CGI program. Then, when the filename of the program is requested by a browser as a Web page, the server launches the program (with any parameters sent with the Web page request) and sends the output back to the Web browser as a Web page. CGI has become very unpopular lately with the rise of server-side scripting languages, because with CGI the Web server has to launch an external program for every request. Take a site that gets 10,000 hits an hour and that's a LOT of programs to launch.

    DHTML: Short for "Dynamic HTML". Using various new features of modern Web browsers together to make Web page elements change and respond to user input without help from the Web server. In most cases, this means using HTML, JavaScript (see below), and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) (see below) together.

    Cold Fusion: A server-side scripting language (see below). Unlike many similar solutions that are free, Cold Fusion is a commerical product. It does come with a helpful authoring environment, but with PHP and ASP as easy to use as they are, Cold Fusion is losing popularity.

    Java: A full-featured programming language like C++, but simpler and more tightly-structured. Java programs, instead of running directly in a computer's operating system, run in a "Java Virtual Machine" -- which is itself a program that runs on the computer's operating system. This means that any operating system that has a Java Virtual Machine (pretty much all major OS'es these days) can run any Java program. The disadvantage is that Java programs tend to run slower as the Virtual Machine has to convert Java program instructions and pass them to the operating system on which it is running.

    JavaScript: A client-side scripting language. This is a programming language that Web browsers understand. So an HTML Web page can also contain JavaScript code, which the Web browser runs once the Web page has been downloaded. JavaScript lets a Web page author do things like make page elements responsive to user actions (like changing an image when the user moves the mouse cursor over it) and conditions on the user's computer (like displaying "good evening!" on the Web page if the computer's system clock says it's after 6PM and before midnight). JavaScript can do a lot of fun things, but for security and privacy reasons is limited in many ways. Cross-browser compatibility is also an issue, as the JavaScript support in some browsers is not the same as the JavaScript support in others.

    CSS: Cascading Style Sheets sound a lot scarier than they really are. CSS is a language for describing how you want the elements of a Web page to look. Whereas before you would do this with tags like <B>, <I>, <FONT>, etc., CSS allows you to use HTML to define just the structure of the information being displayed on a Web page and then tell the browser how you want that information to be presented. For example, instead of using <FONT FACE="arial"> all over your site to set text inside of <P> tags to the Arial font, you can just use bare <P> tags, and create a .CSS file that instructs Web browsers that all <P> tags should be displayed in an Arial font. Making changes to the look of your site becomes much easier (change things in one place -- not a thousand), and your HTML code becomes much less cluttered.

    Server-Side Scripting Languages: CGI without the burden of launching an external program for every request. By installing a plug-in, you can teach Web server software (like Apache, Microsoft IIS, and most others) how to do things like run Perl or PHP scripts themselves. When a Web page containing one of these languages is requested, the Web server uses its internal plug-in to run the code in the page, then send the results to the Web browser. The advantage over CGI is that, since everything is happening in the Web server process, resources can be allocated more efficiently, making dynamic generation of pages on large sites (like SitePoint!) practical.

    For a good introduction to PHP and MySQL, and what can be done when you use them together to build a Website, see my tutorial series on SitePoint.com: Building a Database-Driven Website using PHP and MySQL.

    Let me know if I missed anything! :-)


    ------------------
    -Kevin Yank.
    http://www.SitePoint.com/
    Helping Small Business Grow Online!

    [This message has been edited by kyank (edited July 12, 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by kyank (edited July 12, 2000).]

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Wow, I didn't expect that sort of feedback, I thought i'd have lots of people asking the same questions, however, I am slightly irritared that only 1 person (me) will actually ask what any of this means (although I do know what most of it is), I like the idea of MySQL especially, now that understand what each mean, I would like to ask a simple question about MySQL, what do you make it in?? Microsoft Access?? and just link it across into a script which calls it. I was wondering where I could find some easy, but accurate tutorials on this, as my site is really beginning to need a large databse to store all of the Newsletter users, I would need it to be in Alphabetical order, with each person having a seperate ID Number, so that they can be quickly refernced, I hope this helps a little. Thanks again Guys, hope to see you all eagerly typing away responses to this topic

    Hell.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Author Kevin Yank's Avatar
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    I like the idea of MySQL especially, now that understand what each mean, I would like to ask a simple question about MySQL, what do you make it in?? Microsoft Access??
    Actually MySQL is a piece of software that runs all by itself. It does the same job as Microsoft Access, allowing you to create and view information stored in a database. MySQL doesn't offer quite the same graphical interface as you may be used to with Microsoft Access, however. The primary method of creating and viewing databases in MySQL is to type commands in Structured Query Language (SQL) and view the results in text format.

    While this may sound somewhat primitive, the reason for this simple interface is to allow other programs (for example, a PHP script in a Web page) to be able to easily interact with MySQL. Furthermore, some helpful people out there have written programs like MySQLWinAdmin that present a graphical interface for working with information in MySQL.

    I was wondering where I could find some easy, but accurate tutorials on this, as my site is really beginning to need a large databse to store all of the Newsletter users, I would need it to be in Alphabetical order, with each person having a seperate ID Number, so that they can be quickly refernced, I hope this helps a little.
    Easily done! My tutorial: Building a Database-Driven Website using PHP and MySQL will teach you everything you need to know.


    ------------------
    -Kevin Yank.
    http://www.SitePoint.com/
    Helping Small Business Grow Online!


    [Edited by kyank on 09-08-2000 at 11:02 AM]

  7. #7
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    I would just like to add the while Microsoft created ASP it is an open standard and using third party software like that provided by ChiliSoft you can run ASP on Linux, Sun Solaris, AIX, HP-UX Operating systems. Netscape, O'Reilly, Apache and other webservers are all supported.

    ------------------
    Wayne Luke - Sitepoint Forums Administrator
    Digital Magician Magazine - MetaQuark Creations (Coming Soon)
    sitepoint@digitalmagician.com


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