The PHP manual is provided in several formats. These formats can be divided
into two groups: online readable formats, and downloadable packages.
Some publishers have made available printed versions of this manual. We
cannot recommend any of those, as they tend to become out-of-date very
The manual can be read online at the » PHP.net website,
and on the numerous mirror sites. For best performance, choose
the closest mirror. The online version of the PHP manual has currently two
CSS stylesheets, web friendly and a printer-friendly stylesheet.
Two notable advantages of the online manual over most of the offline formats is the
integration of user-contributed
notes and the » URL shortcuts that
may be used to get to the desired manual parts quickly. An obvious disadvantage is
the requirement to be online to view this edition of the manual.
There are several offline formats of the manual, and the most appropriate
format for depends on the operating system, and personal
reading style. For information on how the manual is generated in so many
formats, read the 'How we generate the
formats' section of this appendix.
The most cross-platform format of the manual is the HTML version. This
is provided both as a single HTML file and as a package of individual files
for each section (which results in a collection of several thousand files).
We provide these versions compressed, so a decompression utility is
required to retrieve the files contained within the archives.
For Windows platforms, the Windows HTML Help
version of the manual enhances the HTML format for use with the
Windows HTML Help application. This
version provides full-text search, a full index, and bookmarking. Many
popular Windows PHP development environments also integrate with this
version of the documentation to provide easy access. CHM viewers for
Linux desktops are also available. Check out
» xCHM or
There is also an » extended CHM version
available, which is updated less frequently, but provides many additional
features. It will only work on Microsoft Windows
though, because of the technologies used to build the help pages.