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Would-be programmers?

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:47 pm
by brettz9
Hi all,

Was wondering if anyone out there was interested in learning PHP-- a popular, fun, useful, free, and not-too-difficult computer language which we are using for our software development in order that we can create an even much more powerful web experience in exploration of the Baha'i Writings and related content? There really are some INCREDIBLE possibilities just waiting for us to exploit technologies in exciting new ways --some of which I hope to detail later in an article to this site, God willing.

Both my own "Text Browser" project as well as soon even this site of Jonah's are open source projects meaning anyone can contribute code, modify our existing code, and redistribute or redploy the derivates on other sites, if they so wish--all to make better, more powerful, useful, interesting, and efficient tools--and which can improve with time, as they legally belong to EVERYONE!.

We hope to also make the textual contents of this website friendly to collaborative modification as well, perhaps allowing materials added to this site such as study outlines to be by default (unless opted out) to be open (by legal license) to modification and redistribution by others in the future so that, as with the great collaborative Wikipedia experience, something better can be enabled to come out of it if someone would like to take up the reins of work someone else had already started. And, frankly speaking, I think if we show a little humility, we will realize that the best efforts are those which will not pertpetually depend on ourselves.

If anyone is interested in participating in the coding or other aspects of its development, we welcome you to join this "BADI Instiute", hosted at Yahoo Groups. The agenda is open to some adjustment, but we feel that, since no one else appears to be doing this, that something should be started to coordinate open source Bahá'í web development efforts. We are open to institutional oversight, if it is at some point desired.

If anyone would like pointers on how to get started on PHP study (we also use MySQL, the popular database language that has gone along with it), please let us know. We can't do this all ourselves--certainly not anywhere near as well as things COULD be with your assistance! (One other computer language that should be helpful is Javascript and XUL (used inside of Mozilla/Firefox browsers for making extensions on the browser side).

As usual, we can also use translators (to make the site accessible in multiple language).

best wishes,

Posted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:57 am
by Hossein
Hi brettz9
I am interessted. How can I contact you.
I am already a programmer and use ASP, ASP.Net and msSQL & MSAccess. Well totally M$. But why not learn PHP?

Best regards

Posted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:54 pm
by brettz9
Hi Hossein and all,

That'd really be great!

I sent you an email from this site...

Just for any other ASP folks, here's the info on ASP...

As far as ASP, here's what I found from a Google search:
1) Comparing ASP with PHP: ... l_asp.html
2) An older article targeted to ASP and other language programmers on how to switch to PHP: ... c=0&view=1
3) Even a site claiming to be able to translate ASP code to PHP code (after you register): ... _login.php

As far as general PHP resources:
1) The official documentation:
2) The company started by PHP founders (for certification, training, etc. since PHP code is BSD-style open source):

There are also a ton of PHP tutorials out there, as well as numerous already-answered questions floating around in discussion forums and available from Google searches. The search engine is our friend.

all the best,

Posted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:58 pm
by brettz9
PHP may also be a helpful language to have for one's job possibilities as well, since it not only occupies a huge share of sites on the web, but it has become more enterprise-level in terms of its features and supporting extensions, etc. has info on professional certification in PHP as well.

And if you're new to PHP (from another computer language or not), it is a good way to hone your skills as well to experiment with something of interest to you (which the Baha'i Faith presumably is, as you're at this forum).

take care,

Posted: Thu May 04, 2006 7:57 pm
by Pouria
I am interested!
I am not a programmer... I only know HTML. :oops:
But I was always interested in learning how to create PHP sites.


Posted: Wed May 17, 2006 6:42 am
by brettz9
Dear Pouria,

Sorry, I haven't check this forum for a while, as I've been busy with other projects...

Great to hear of your interest!

If you know HTML, that is really enough to get going...(That's all I really knew when I started)...You don't even need to have mastered HTML...

Are you interested in finding a print book that you can buy to read off-line at your leisure (and avoiding eye strain), or in free online tutorials?

Most of my learning was first through books, and there are a number of very good books which take your hand through the basics.

    * "Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache in 24 Hours" is a good intro (the first one I started with) and I like it because it covers Apache (the free web server most often used with PHP) and MySQL, the database language often used with PHP (as we are using at BLO and as a number of important open source applications use).
    * If you don't need the Apache/installation information, "PHP For the World Wide Web" by Larry Ullman is a great readable introduction but which will still be useful as you learn more PHP. It doesn't talk over your head, but also is content rich. If I had to have one introductory book on the language, this would be it.
    * "PHP 5 in Easy Steps" by Mike McGrath (avaiable from Barnes and Nobles) is a small, practical, and cheap ($10) beautifully colored introduction. This would be a fun book to get started with.
    * "PHP For Absolute Beginners" is pretty good (I am loaning it now, so I'm not 100% sure of the title).

There are also excellent more advanced titles that I recommend if you get to that point:
* Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL From Novice To Professional is my favorite
* PHP5 Unleashed is good and complementary to the above
* And for heavy-duty PHP programming (I haven't gotten through much of this book yet, but I see it is good), "Advanced PHP Programming" by George Schlossnagle. The Zend PHP Certification Study Guide is also helpful to learn more of the nuances of the language.

Although it is certainly not necessary (the online manual at is a great help once you get the basics down), having a couple of print books on the subject helped reinforce the material for me and draw attention to other features. But you can certainly get by with just one book, or even just by free online resources.

As far as online tutorials, Just doing a little search of the net, to my eyes, this tutorial looks like one of the easier ones to get going with: though there may be others. Actually I see has a very good introduction too and also can lead you into more features. That website also has helpful tutorials on HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc. (despite the annoying fixed width of their columns--I use a special feature with the Firefox web browser to rewrite the code when I view their pages, if you're interested).

The trickiest part in starting off ironically has nothing to do with PHP itself--you will need to install or have access to a PHP-enabled server so that you can run your scripts in the first place. BCI generously offers free PHP-ready hosting for Bahá'í institutions if you were to work through a Bahá'í institution. It is also possible to install PHP on your own machine, using it like a server to do your testing. If you have a Mac, I can help you on how to do the latter (not familiar enough with Windows, though the book above with Apache in the title can help with Windows installation, as can a number of online resources, I'm sure).

Please feel free to post if you have any other questions or comments...You can also personal message me here if you prefer. It'd be great to see Bahá'ís more a part of and shining examples of the spirit of service and collaboration that the liberating open source movement is all about (even the language PHP itself is open source, let alone many of the projects people write with it). I find open source is quite consonant with our teachings of unity in diversity.

best wishes,

Posted: Wed May 17, 2006 6:59 am
by brettz9
Also, though it is not essential, do yourself a favor and make sure to learn what XHTML is, if you do not already. There are very few differences with it and HTML (mostly just be sure to put your HTML tags in lower case, always have quotation marks or apostrophes in your attributes, and properly close and nest your tags), but you will save yourself the headache of converting your files later on.

The most basic differences are covered all on one page at .

We are using and going to be using XHTML for our site (PHP can create, or be included within (X)HTML).

XHTML, for its regularity, offers numerous advantages, and ensures the work we do will be more easily future-proofed.

take care,

Thank You

Posted: Tue May 23, 2006 1:39 am
by Pouria
Thank you for your time and efforts!

I will take your recommendations into consideration, and as I do hate staring at a CRT monitor for long periods, I will be purchasing one of your recommended books soon.

Once again, thank you.

Posted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:26 am
by brettz9
I wanted to make a summary here of some of the computer skills that may be helpful to this ongoing Bahá'í project:
    1. XHTML (no presentation elements) and CSS (possibly XSL-FO at a later date) with a good designer's sense
    2. PHP, the following PHP tools ideally as well:
    2. MySQL (possibly PostgreSQL at a later date)
    3. Javascript (see this tutorial or reference)
    4. XUL and Mozilla use of Javascript for the sake of the creation of a client-side equivalent of the current project.
Some other resources we may be able to use:
    1. Translators
    2. Funding

I may update this list periodically.

best wishes,