How Does PHP Work With a Web Server?


Larry Thompson

How Does PHP Work With a Web Server?

PHP, which stands for Hypertext Preprocessor, is a popular server-side scripting language used for web development. It is often used in combination with web servers to create dynamic and interactive websites. In this article, we will explore how PHP works with a web server and the role it plays in delivering dynamic content to users.

Understanding Server-Side Scripting

Before diving into the specifics of PHP, let’s first understand the concept of server-side scripting. When a user requests a webpage, the web server processes the request and sends back an HTML document that can be rendered by the user’s browser.

In some cases, however, we may want to generate HTML dynamically based on certain conditions or user input. This is where server-side scripting comes into play.

Server-side scripting allows us to execute code on the server before sending the HTML document back to the client’s browser. This enables us to perform various tasks such as retrieving data from databases, processing form submissions, and generating dynamic content.

The Role of PHP

PHP is one of the most widely used server-side scripting languages due to its ease of use and versatility. It is seamlessly integrated with web servers such as Apache, Nginx, and IIS.

To understand how PHP works with a web server, let’s consider a typical scenario:

  1. A user requests a webpage by entering its URL into their browser.
  2. The web server receives this request and identifies that it needs to process PHP code within the requested file.
  3. The PHP interpreter embedded within the web server parses the PHP code and executes it.
  4. The executed PHP code generates HTML dynamically based on the server-side logic.
  5. The web server sends the generated HTML back to the user’s browser.
  6. The user’s browser renders the HTML and displays the webpage to the user.

During this process, PHP can interact with databases, manipulate files, and perform various operations to generate dynamic content. It can also handle user input through forms and process it securely on the server side.

Embedding PHP Code in HTML

In order for a web server to identify PHP code within an HTML file, we need to embed it using special tags. The most common way is by using the opening tag <?php and the closing tag ?>. Anything between these tags is treated as PHP code and will be executed on the server before generating the HTML response.

For example:


<h1>Welcome to my website!</h1>

   $name = "John";
   echo "Hello, " . $name . 

"! ";


In this example, the PHP code sets a variable called $name to “John” and then echoes a greeting message containing the value of that variable. When this page is requested, the web server will execute this PHP code and include its output in the final HTML response sent back to the client.


In summary, PHP is a powerful server-side scripting language that works seamlessly with web servers. It enables web developers to create dynamic and interactive websites by executing code on the server before sending HTML responses back to users’ browsers. By understanding how PHP interacts with a web server, you can leverage its capabilities to build robust web applications.

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