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Is there a way to hide the page name in PHP?

Posted on 2014-10-05
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Last Modified: 2014-10-05
I noticed that some sites don't show the filename of the page you're at. For example, if you went to a hypothetical website named www.somesite.com, that's all you see when you get to the home page. It doesn't have index.html or index.jsp or index.php appended to the end. I am using PHP, and I would like to emulate this.

Is there some kind of technique to accomplish this? Thanks.
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Question by:elepil
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by:Gary
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index.php is an easy one as you set up the default page to show in your server config when someone visits the homepage.
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by:elepil
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Gary, I'm not sure if you understood my question. What I'm saying is when someone goes to my web site, I'd like the URL *not* to show index.php. So instead of:

http://www.somesite.com/index.php

I want it to just show:

http://www.somesite.com
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by:Gary
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You set this up in the httpd.conf, look for
DirectoryIndex

It will usually be followed by something like this
index.php index.phtml index.html index.htm
which is the order in which it will look for the default file to server

If you are talking about removing index.php from the url then add this to the .htaccess
RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^(.*)index\.php$ /$1 [R=301,NC] 

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by:elepil
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Gary, I'm not sure I should've tried your recommendation. I modified .htaccess to what you said (basically copy and paste), now I'm having another problem.

When I try to access my site now, it's somehow now adding other directories into my url:

http://www.mysite.com/cgi-local/php5.fcgi/public/

I don't know why it's adding cgi-local/php5.fcgi to my URL now. I did make a backup of the original .htaccess and restored it back, but I can't make it go back to normal.

Also, when I run the usual index.php, I am getting this bizarre output now:

export PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN=0 export PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS=50 exec /usr/local/bin/php55-fcgi

instead of the output I'm expecting. Any comments?
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by:Gary
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Post your .htaccess as you have it and what you have for DirectoryIndex
Make sure you don't have an index.htm file in your root folder
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by:elepil
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My .htaccess had only one entry when I looked at it:

DirectoryIndex dto.php

dto.php was the filename I set for default a while back. But I changed it to:

DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.htm
RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^(.*)index\.php$ /$1 [R=301,NC]

as you had recommended, and then the result was disastrous.

My php site is a subdomain, and when enter it in the browser, I get this:

Index of /
• _css/
• cgi-local/
• includes/
• public/

My stuff is in the 'public' subdirectory. But when enter that subdirectory and click 'index.php', I get:

export PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN=0 export PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS=50 exec /usr/local/bin/php55-fcgi

I am not sure what your commands did, but even after restoring .htaccess back to the way it was does not restore things back to its original state.
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by:elepil
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Gary, you know what? It seems only index.php was affected. When I click other pages within the 'public' subdirectory, they seem to be fine. But I can no longer click index.php and make it do what it's supposed to do.
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by:Gary
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The htaccess should be in your root folder i.e. public.
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by:elepil
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Currently, my subdomain is the root folder. 'public' was just a subdirectory among others. Besides, only my root folder had .htaccess. 'public' has no .htaccess when I do a ls -al.
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by:Gary
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Now I'm confused
My stuff is in the 'public' subdirectory
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by:elepil
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My subdomain is php_mysite_com. That's also the root folder. Inside this folder is:

Index of /
• _css/
• cgi-local/
• includes/
• public/

But if I do a ls -al on it which shows all files including hidden files, I would see an .htaccess in the list. That is the one I modified.

Can you tell me what that two-liner code you had me enter does? It looks destructive. What does RewriteRule do?

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^(.*)index\.php$ /$1 [R=301,NC]
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by:Gary
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Removes index.php from the url, but the DirectoryIndex will automatically look for index.php where no file is specified.
Are you sure there is an index.php in the root folder.
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by:elepil
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The reason why I have a 'public' directory is because based on my learning PHP, I learned I should make 'public' my root folder (which I haven't done yet). The purpose is so that the 'includes' folder, which would be a sibling directory to 'public' would be inaccessible if you were inside 'public'. But I'm not sure all of this has any relevance to what just happened. Those commands you gave me changed something in my PHP configuration in a persistent fashion, such that even after I restored my original .htaccess, whatever those lines you gave me had done, it persisted.
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by:elepil
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No, the index.php is not in the root folder, but rather, inside the 'public' subdirectory. It's not in php_mysite_com, but rather in php_mysite_com/public/index.php. Does that matter?
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by:Gary
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Change to htaccess don't make changes to anything else and the changes are instantaneous.

Are you saying you are seeing that in the browser.
Clear your browser cache and if there is an index.html file in the root then rename it
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by:elepil
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I did clear the cache already. I do Ctrl-F5 (instead of just F5) to force a refresh. And regardless, there is no index.html or index.htm or index.php at the root application directory. The only index.php is in php_mysite_com/public.
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by:Gary
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Now you are just confusing things, you say that is your root folder but you don't want people to see index.php and now you say there is no index.php
So where the hell is your site stored????
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by:elepil
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Okay, let me start over.

Let's say my domain name is php_mysite_com. That is the currently configured root application directory. Inside it are simply subdirectories. There are no index.php or any file named index.xxx, or any files at all. In the books I've read, it teaches me to create a 'public' subdirectory at the root application directory, along with a sibling directory called 'includes'. In short, 'public' and 'includes' are sibling directories at the same level. As I specified earlier, php_mysite_com has:

Index of /
• _css/
• cgi-local/
• includes/
• public/

Notice, 'public' and 'includes' are sibling directories within my root application directory. The wisdom my books were instructing me was to make 'public' the root application directory so that the 'includes' subdirectory is not accessible by users. As to how to do that, I still don't know how, but eventually, I will want to configure my site so that when a user enters php_mysite_com on their browser URL, it will go straight to php_mysite_com/public/index.php. In the meantime, I have been testing my pages by typing in http://php_mysite_com/public/index.php.

But after the change you made me do, entering http://php_mysite_com/public/index.php no longer works because I get this output:

export PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN=0 export PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS=50 exec /usr/local/bin/php55-fcgi

That is not the output I expect. The odd part is that when I immediately look at the browser URL, it no longer says http://php_mysite_com/public/index.php; instead, it reads:

http://www.php.mysite.com/cgi-local/php5.fcgi/public/

I don't know why it would prepend my subdomain with a 'www', nor do I know why it added 'cgi-local/php5.fcgi/'. That's a puzzle to me. Whatever you had me change, it caused all these anomalies to happen.

So am I explaining it more clear now?
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by:Gary
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Remove the htaccess from your 'application' root and put it in your public folder (site root) like I said way back
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by:Ray Paseur
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For something like this it's really helpful if you post the true URL.  If you do that we can see what that URL is doing.  Guessing about what http://php_mysite_com/public/index.php might be hiding from us is not going to be fruitful, since it's not the true URL.  SSCCE is an incredibly powerful concept.
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by:Gauthier
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The changes are not difficult to understand see:

http://httpd.apache.org/docs/current/en/rewrite/remapping.html

R means he is doing a redirect 301 is the http status code for permanent redirect
NC means the regex is case insensitive.
^(.*)index\.php$ is the regular expression ^is the start of the string $ is the end.
and the (.*) which is later represented by the variable $1 will match anything before the index\.php the \ is there to escape the special .
So it will apply to index.php as well as InDEx.PhP
In practice, it does almost  what you meant to do. (you may want to handle query parameters in a more elegant fashion too. )
However, before you think to add this rewrite rule, the server it must respond properly to both a request for "/" and a request for "/index.php" and mod_rewrite must be available.

Note that 301 is the kind of redirect cached in a buggy fashion by some browser!
To get rid of it:
1 Clear the cache (the whole cache, the hard way!)
2 Close the browser (Kill any remaining process if needed)
3 Restart and check.

Reversing the change to the .htaccess on the server has solved your problem, no permanent damage can be done.
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by:elepil
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Garry, well,  it's all messed up now. I moved the .htaccess from php_mysite_com to php_mysite_com/public. Now when I try to access php_mysite_com or php_mysite_com/public, I get this:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

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And it keeps changing the URL to http://www.php.mysite.com/cgi-local/php5.fcgi/, whatever the hell all that extra stuff is.
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by:Gary
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What is in the htaccess and what is the document root in your virtual server in httpd.conf?
php_mysite_com should not be in the url, your doc root should be pointing to this folder to start with.

The redirect is probably still happening because you have not cleared your browser cache. Ctrl-F5 will not work, you need to clear the site cache
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by:elepil
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.htaccess contains only:

DirectoryInfo index.php index.html index.htm

I didn't even put those two lines you gave me earlier anymore because all I cared about was restoring things back to normal.

As for httpd.conf, I don't know where that is. I'm not even sure if I have access to it.

And to Ray, I'd rather not give out the real site name because this site isn't mine. It is a Java/Adobe Flex application production site. This subdomain was created for me to try out PHP, and being new to PHP as I am, I never know when I might do something with unintended consequences. Thank goodness this thing I'm going through did not affect the rest of the site.

And to Gauthier, I don't know what you mean by clearing the cache "the hard way", but I went through Tools > Internet Options > Browsing History and deleted all. (I am using IE 11, btw). I also ran Task Manager to make sure no iexplore.exe processes were running. When I tried to reconnect, same result.

I'm going to have call up technical support tomorrow, my PHP subdomain is screwed.
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by:Gary
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Where has DirectoryInfo come from - would explain the Internal server error

It should be
DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.htm
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by:elepil
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Gary, that was my mistake, I mistyped it in .htaccess. Sorry. Well that got rid of the Internal Server error, but here is what's happening now:

When I type in php_mysite_com, and I was expecting a directory listing. But instead, and I don't know why it's behaving this way, I get this in the browser: (and once again, It alters my URL the way I described before)

export PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN=0 export PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS=50 exec /usr/local/bin/php55-fcgi

The root application directory no longer has .htaccess, it's now in 'public'. When I run php_mysite_com/public, it works fine and picks up index.php. At least it's a sane result. .htaccess does not include the two lines you gave me; at this point, I'm just trying to get the subdomain to function normally before all this began to happen.
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by:Gary
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You shouldn't have public in your url at all, you should be going directly to your domain and it loads your site from the public folder - so forget using this in your browser
http://php_mysite_com

...as that is loading from the wrong folder.

Whoever set this up for you has done it wrong and needs to change the doc root for your site to point to the public folder
Your 'application root' should only be availabe through FTP or an online control panel.
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by:Gary
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Actually rereading your comments it's you that has moved your site to a subfolder
So you need to ask your host to change the doc root to that folder
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by:elepil
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Gary, just an fyi, php_mysite_com is the actual directory name in the Linux server. When I access it through the browser, I have to type http://php.mysite.com (i.e., using periods, not underscores).

Well, you unwittingly answered the question on how to set up my application root, now I know it's through httpd.conf. But still, these bizarre occurrences weren't happening before. Until I get to update httpd.conf for my new application root, when I try to go to http://php.mysite.com, it should now present me a directory listing, not the aforementioned bizarre output.

Do you know how those two lines you had me add to my .htaccess might have caused something like this to happen??
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by:Gary
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Because you were trying to load a file that doesn't exist in the top level folder so it was going to the next default which is the cgi bin.

http://php.mysite.com should be pointing to your public folder not your top level directory.
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by:elepil
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Gary, that makes sense. When I looked into cgi-local subdirectory, it was executing a file named php55-fcgi, and guess what the file contains:

"export PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN=0
export PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS=50"

Those are the very two lines that was coming up. :)

I also decided to go intrepid again and put those two lines you recommended into the .htaccess within the 'public' subdirectory. It did run index.php, and it so happens my index.php redirects to login.php. So when I look at the URL, I see php.mysite.com/public/login.php. So did those two lines you gave me apply only to index.php?

The real solution I was looking for was to never make the page filename appear at all -- no matter what page. Am I correctly interpreting those two lines you gave me as applicable only to the filename of "index.php"?
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Gary earned 500 total points
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Well you need something to indicate what file to load e.g,
You could have
php.mysite.com/public/login

and that will actually load login.php

So you cannot hide the filename 'completely' - you need something to give an indication of what should be loaded.

One way is
http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/using-htaccess-files-for-pretty-urls--net-6049

If you don't have too many pages you could manually add entries in the htaccess for each page.
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by:elepil
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Wow! That was what I was looking for. I didn't even know that was possible. In Java/JSP, there is a technique not to reveal any page filenames in the URL. But if this is a clean way to do it in PHP, I'll settle for it!

Thanks for your help!
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by:Gauthier
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The real solution I was looking for was to never make the page filename appear at all -- no matter what page
OMG, well that happens when you use (horror) frames.
The browser URL never change no matter what page is shown or navigated to. That is however a terrible way to operate because:
No search indexing
Incompatible with mobile platform.
No deep linking by visitor.

You also can do the same without frame by using ajax.
That solve the mobile plateform incompatibility but render the website unusable when Javascript is disabled, the other 2 critical problems however remain present.

The URL rewrite cannot help you because you need a way to differentiate two contents...

Can you cite any halfway decent site doing exactly what you want?
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by:Gary
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In JSP you were probably using servlets, the equivalent would be routing in PHP but you still need something in the url to say it should be loading whatever page
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by:elepil
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Gauthier, you raise some very excellent points, especially the search indexing and mobile device incompatibility.

Fortunately, the site I was planning to write in PHP is not something I want in the search engines; it's really a "fat client type" of application to be used in an intranet. Unfortunately, the owner of the business does not want to spend on internal system administrators to maintain an intranet site, so that's what I have to contend with. More specifically, I'm trying to rewrite an application I wrote in Adobe Flex (which runs on Flash Player) in PHP, but will run on a web host as opposed to an internal network.

My developer experience centers around writing intranet applications, so I'm not well versed with SEO, responsive web sites for mobile devices, etc., but I appreciate your pointing out the disadvantages of the path I'm taking. But in an "intranet" setting, I want to discourage curious employees playing around with the URL, so concealing the page filename is actually desirable to me.

Thanks for your feedback.
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by:elepil
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Gary, you're right, I was using Java servlets with JSP, but that was almost 10 years ago before I shifted to Adobe Flex running on a Java platform. I thought Adobe Flex was the future until Apple decided not to support Flash Player in their devices, as well as the emergence of the Canvas in HTML5, the improvements of CSS3 in terms of animations and transitions. All of a sudden, my career decision to bank on Adobe Flex seemed destined to be headed towards oblivion.

Anyway, I'm shifting to PHP. I'm hoping the transition won't be so painful since I've done JSP in the past. Although PHP is a bit quirky, I can't complain with it's prevalence in the job market.
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by:Gauthier
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Since it's an intranet why not keep the flex front-end?
It's rather easy to interface with php and will give you the same clean URL, it's a disguised way to do ajax in fact but instead of sending JSON or html snipet you send AMF data trough the PHP.
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by:Gauthier
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Well I do not want to disabuse you but compared to flex, ensuring a good cross platform compatibility across iThing, Android and the desktop browsers remains a nightmare even if you specify solid css3 support as a browser requirement.
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by:Gauthier
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If it's a career decision toward the future I would shift to node.js not PHP.
But if you really want to stick with PHP at least start with a modern framework like symfony 2.
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by:elepil
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Gauthier, interface PHP with Adobe Flex? Adobe Flex is self-contained, rich in components (e.g. datagrids, tree components, etc.) and is far superior to any server-side scripting language like PHP/JSP/ASP/etc. There have been times when I had to interface with JavaScript outside of the Flex application, but I have never felt a need to interface with those server-side scripting languages. Unless of course you're referring to using an Adobe Flex application as part of a PHP application where Flex is not at the center stage, then that's an entirely different ballgame.

With Adobe Flex, I don't even use JSON, I use XML all the time. Since I'm new to PHP, you just reminded me to read up on AMF because I've heard of it, but I need to learn about it.

The reason why I'm abandoning Flex is because I see it as a dying platform. Once Flash Player goes out of style, Flex will die a horrible death. I always thought the power of Flex would overcome the burdensome need for a Flash Player plugin, something many people complain about. But I'm just a fish in the stream going with the flow of the water. At this point, I feel Flash Player (and Flex) is on its way out, and I don't want to be stuck in it like Cobol programmers were stuck in mainframes as personal computers flourished. Not the best analogy, but you get my point.
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by:Gary
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Once Flash Player goes out of style
Isn't it already, support is dropping like a lead balloon
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by:elepil
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Gauthier, node.js? From what I've read about it, it's mainly used with chat programs. I initially got excited when I heard about node.js, thinking it was a JavaScript server-side nirvana where I could access databases. But further reading told me it wasn't the case. Can you imagine if node.js was what I thought it was? Goodbye PHP! All I need is HTML, JavaScript, Ajax, and node.js to write fat clients!

But why would you recommend node.js?

I haven't even looked into PHP frameworks yet. I figure I should learn PHP first before jumping to frameworks. It's kind of like learning JavaScript first before getting into JQuery.
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by:elepil
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Gary, I was trying to be nice. Flash Player really took a drop ever since Apple devices came into vogue. Just their sheer ubiquity made even traditional web sites feel obsolescent. And now you have so many other companies jumping into the bandwagon of mobile computing (e.g. Amazon, B&N, Samsung, etc.) ... Flash Player's demise can only accelerate. The future is in mobile computing, I painfully have to accept that, and Flash Player/Flex has no place in that.
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by:Gary
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CSS3 animations can take a bit to get into but there is some stunning stuff out there using it that makes me wonder why people wouldn't want to use it and leave flash behind now.
http://www.creativebloq.com/css3/animation-with-css3-712437
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by:Gauthier
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I know all about flex (unfortunately) and I've made my lot of fat monolithic front end to PHP server using it. But don't think for a moment that with the dead of flash the code balance will move to the server. With regard to user interface, more and more will be accomplished trough a fat javascript css layer and communication with the server will be more and more decoupled with very asynchronous background persistence operation becoming the norm. Your flex experience can be leveraged in that regard.
Even if compared to the beauty of AS3, Javascript send us back 30 years behind in code quality...
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by:elepil
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I wouldn't compare CSS3 with Flash though. While CSS3 can create beautiful transitions and animations like carousels, it is too "high-level". Flash uses Actionscript, a full-fledged classic OOP language. CSS3 is just a bunch of rules designed for web page aesthetics where animation came as an afterthought. For instance, I've written games using Actionscript with full user interactivity (e.g. arrow keys, drag and drop), CSS3 can't even do that since it relies mainly on events like hover/click/focus/etc. If you really want to compare something to Flash, you can compare the HTML5 Canvas. Now THAT will give Flash a run for its money.
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by:elepil
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Gauthier, I still don't understand why you would use PHP with Flex. Flex has its own HTTP components that handled interfacing with the backend beautifully. Now that I'm shifting to PHP/JavaScript/HTML5, one of the reasons I can't do away with PHP is because I need it to interface with databases and Ajax. Functionality-wise, there really is nothing PHP can do that Flex can't do better. The only reason Flex is dying is because it lives in a sandbox plug-in called Flash Player. Otherwise, Flex is really awesome. I leave it with great sadness.
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by:Gary
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by:elepil
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Gary, that's a cool example, but although it uses CSS for it's animation and transition, it needs JavaScript. Actionscript is like both JavaScript and CSS combined all in one, with the full power of a full OOP language.

But I'm always amazed at how people use highly specialized and seemingly inadequate technologies together to form an amazing work, and this is definitely one of them.
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by:elepil
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by:Gary
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As you've said CSS isn't interactive so you have to use js, there was a website (cannot find it now) and some of the animations (user involved) were stunning.
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by:Gauthier
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flex/php: I used PHP as the backend, the flex HTTPService components interfaced with the http server which ran MySQL/PHP and only served xml except for thumbnail upload wich used AMF.
Sample app: http://admin.pikibox.com a CMS for portfolio explained here: http://www.pikibox.com

Nodejs is evolving extremely rapidly with a huge momentum behind it, and today you can access most DB.

Bluntly said the nodejs design force you to write performing asynchronous code, no way around it.
it leaves PHP in the dust and except for query optimization blunder your code will always scale beautifully. The ability to reuse code from browser to server and vice-versa is also invaluable.

The downside are:
Many API are not yet freezed so upgrade are going to be problematic.
There are too many modules doing (incompletely) the same thing to chose from...
You have to replace the whole webserver ecosystem (logs, mimetype, error management, etc
or put in place a nonsensical kludge of reverse proxy, web server and node.js apps.
But all you get out of the box is a barebone http(s) server which let you organize thing such as users / password / https certificates / static files as you wish with incoherence being the norm.
There is a poor grasp of the security risk associated among the developers, and too many bugs...

Still It has the potential to land gracefully, and it's so efficient in server resource usage no big player can ignore it.
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by:elepil
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What you did looks pretty good and creative!

The articles I read about node.js was about 2 years ago. So maybe node.js has gone a long way now. To me, that's the missing link in finally being able to depart from PHP/JSP/ASP/etc for good. If node.js can reliably connect to different databases, and correct me if I'm wrong, I can probably attempt to write "fat-client" applications just using one web page, relying entirely on JavaScript/AJAX and DOM manipulation to assemble and update all screen elements. That's my wish anyway because I really don't like stateless pages and repeated page-loading typical of PHP.

Of course, there will still be this thing about security with JavaScript, on how hackers can load the page and selectively strip JavaScript code to do their mischief. But in an "intranet" type of environment, maybe I won't have to worry about that when only a limited group of employees are using my application.
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