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In this video series, I'm going to describe using Dreamweaver CS5 with PHP and MySQL, but if you're new to the world of web application development, you might be wondering about what other server software is available. When you choose software for your server, the choice is driven by a number of factors. Probably the single most important factor is your existing experience and expertise, either yours personally, or your organization's. If an organization, for example, already uses ASP.NET everywhere else, they're unlikely to choose a new application server just because it has a particular feature that might be interesting.
Another factor is the operating system of the server itself. ASP.NET and ASP for Microsoft only work on Windows. Other application servers work on many operating systems. You might also be influenced by the available programming languages supported by a particular server. And finally, there is cost. Certain server software is free, and other packages require license fees. There are three elements of the server stack to choose: the HTTP server, which receives request and sends responses with the client or a web browser, the application server where you do most of your server programming, and the database server.
Here are the available choices for an HTTP server. There are many HTTP server products on the market, but there are two primary products that dominate the landscape. On the Windows platform, you have Internet Information Services, also known as IIS. This is a Microsoft product that's included with all copies of Windows server-based operating systems. And then the other major choice is Apache. Apache is completely free and open source, and it works with all major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and many others.
You can download Apache for free from http://www.apache.org. You don't need to register or otherwise report the usage of this software. You can also get Apache in many bundle distributions that include Apache, PHP, and MySQL. I'll describe these in a separate video. When choosing an application server, if you already know you'll be working on the Windows platform, you can look at either Active Server Pages, or ASP, or the more recent ASP.NET.
These products only work on the Windows platform, although particularly with ASP.NET, there is a distribution that's built by a third party called Mono that works on Linux. If you're working in Active Server Pages, you'll be working with the languages VBScript or JScript, and if you're working with ASP.NET, you'll most likely be working with either C# or VB.NET. ASP and ASP.NET are included with all copies of the Windows server-based operating systems.
Some of these products are free, such as JBoss, Tomcat, and GlassFish, and others require license fees, such as WebLogic. There is also Adobe ColdFusion, which works on multiple operating systems, and works with all of the popular HTTP servers, such as Apache and IIS. When you work in ColdFusion, you'll be using its proprietary language, ColdFusion Markup Language, or CFML, a tag-based language. Adobe ColdFusion requires a separate license fee, and it's available from Adobe systems.
And finally, there is PHP. PHP works on multiple operating systems, just like ColdFusion. It has its own programming language, also called PHP. It's commonly paired with the MySQL database server, and it's completely free and open source. In this video series, I'll be working with PHP exclusively, although Dreamweaver CS5 does have very strong support for Adobe ColdFusion. Finally, there is the database server. One of the most popular database servers out there is Microsoft SQL Server.
It operates only on the Windows platform, and the enterprise edition requires license fees. There is a community edition of Microsoft SQL Server that has limited capabilities. There is also Oracle, sometimes known as the 800-pound gorilla of the database world. Oracle works on multiple operating systems, including Windows and Linux, and there are license fees involved in using it. It's also very complex to set up and maintain. So, if you're planning a small-scale web site, you probably won't be interested in this database platform.
Finally, there is MySQL, also known as my sequel. The community edition of MySQL is free. You can download it from www.mysql.com. You also see MySQL frequently included in web site plans from Internet service providers. If you rent a shared web site at one of these ISPs, you'll typically see both PHP and MySQL support included. MySQL, once again, is frequently used with PHP, and it's included in many server bundle distributions that include both PHP and Apache, and I'll talk a lot more about these server bundles and about the entire concept of multi-tier applications in a separate video.
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