Whether you're a first-time programmer or you have a few years of Web application development under your belt, you'll find something useful in this book. Hopefully, what you'll find is a simple "learn-by-example" path to developing successful dynamic Web sites.
Unlike the Web itself, this book is fairly linear. You'll start by installing the software needed to use PHP, and then you'll gradually move into "Hello World!" scripts and eventually create shopping carts and other database-driven applications.
If you have an account with an Internet Service Provider who has enabled the use of PHP for all users on the server, you can skip ahead to Chapter 2. But as you can install freely available Web servers, PHP, and a databsse or two on your own machine-with a little poking and prodding-I recommend you do so. It's a great way to learn the "guts" of the tools you'll be using.