PHP is a very different thing compared to HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  Those three all run in a browser so to test the pages all you need is a browser.  PHP has to run on a proper Web server so before you learn any actual PHP you will learn about Web servers and how to set up and use at least one.  You also need to understand a few basic words.

If you already have access to a Web server and you know how to use it you can skip this page and all of the pages under it (about XAMPP and servers) and move on to your first basic PHP pages by clicking the up arrow above and then using the links to navigate.

For PHP pages to work you need to have at least (more detail on the next few pages):

  1. a server to process/run the PHP and to send out the finished HTML Web pages to a browser
  2. a way to get your PHP pages to the server (FTP)

On the next few pages you will get some help on how to find a server.  You do not need to read all of them just the one you choose to do.  The recommendation is to write/develop/test your code using XAMPP and then get a paid for server to put your finished sites on.  Here is what that means:

  1. XAMPP is a free package which runs servers on your own computer and is ideal for testing code but is not suited to running a real Web site
  2. XAMPP portable is the same thing downloaded as a zip file rather than an installer and it will work on a portable drive (preferably an external hard drive/SSD as it can be a bit slow on a USB flash drive)
  3. a LAMP server is a separate computer (maybe an old one you have lying around) on which you install an OS and a Web server and is good for testing but can also be used as a full Internet server given certain conditions (this is by far the hardest option)
  4. there are many Web hosting companies out there who will let you put your pages on their server for a small regular fee which is how most sites are run