What Is a PHP File?

How to Open, Edit, and Convert PHP Files

PHP Files
PHP Files.

A file with the .PHP file extension is a PHP Source Code file that contains Hypertext Preprocessor code. They are often used as web page files that usually generate HTML from a PHP engine running on a web server.

The HTML content that the PHP engine creates from the code is what's seen in the web browser. Since the web server is where the PHP code is executed, accessing a PHP page does not give you access to the code but instead provides you the HTML content that the server generates.

Note: Some PHP Source Code files might use a different file extension like .PHTML, PHP3, PHP4, PHP5, PHP7 or PHPS.

How to Open PHP Files

PHP files are just text documents, so you can open one with any text editor or web browser. Notepad in Windows is one example but syntax highlighting is so helpful when coding in PHP that a more dedicated PHP editor is usually preferred.

Notepad++ is one free text editor that includes syntax highlighting. Here are some other PHP editors: Adobe Dreamweaver, Eclipse PHP Development Tools, Zend Studio, phpDesigner, EditPlus and WeBuilder.

However, while those programs will let you edit or change PHP files, they do not let you actually run a PHP server. For that, you need something like Apache Web Server. See the Installation and Configuration guide on PHP.net if you need help.

Note: Some .PHP files might actually be media files or images that were accidentally named with the .PHP file extension.

In those cases, just rename the file extension to the right one and then it should open correctly in the program that displays that file type, such as a video player if you're working with an MP4 file.

How to Convert a PHP File

See the documentation on jason_encode on PHP.net to learn how to convert PHP arrays into Javascript code in the JSON format (JavaScript Object Notation).

This is only available in PHP 5.2 and up.

To generate PDFs from PHP, see FPDF or dompdf.

You can not convert PHP files to non text-based formats like MP4 or JPG. If you have a file with the .PHP file extension that you know should have been downloaded in a format like one of those, just rename the file extension from .PHP to .MP4 (or whatever format it should be).

Note: Renaming a file like this isn't performing a real file conversion but instead just allowing the right program to open the file. Real conversions normally take place either within a file conversion tool or a program's Save as or Export menu.

How to Make PHP Work With HTML

PHP code embedded in an HTML file is understood as PHP and not HTML when it's enclosed in these tags instead of the common HTML tag:

< ?php [PHP code goes here] ?>

To link to a PHP file from within an HTML file, enter the following code in the HTML file, where footer.php is the name of your own file:

< ?php include 'footer.php';?>

You can sometimes see that a web page is using PHP by looking at it's URL, such as when the default PHP file is called index.php. In this example, it might look like http://www.examplesite.com/index.php.

More Information on PHP

PHP has been ported to nearly every operating system and is completely free to use.

The official PHP website is PHP.net. There's a whole Documentation section that serves as an online PHP manual if you need helping learning more about what you can do with PHP or how it all works. Another good source is W3Schools.

The first version of PHP was released in 1995 and was called Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools). Changes were made throughout the years with version 7.1 released in December of 2016.

Server-side scripting is the most common use for PHP. As described above, this works with a PHP parser, web server and web browser, where the browser accesses a server running the PHP software so that the browser can display whatever it is that the server is producing.

Another is command-line scripting where neither a browser or server is used. These types of PHP implementations are useful for automated tasks.

PHPS files are syntax highlighted files. Some PHP servers are configured to automatically highlight the syntax of files that use this file extension. This must be enabled by using the httpd.conf line. You can read more about highlight files here.