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Configuring and Testing PHP Servers for XSL Support

Transformations in a snap

To check if the configuration went smoothly, read the section Testing PHP 4.3 Servers.

Testing PHP 4.3+ Servers
The first proof of a successful installation is that your web server doesn't throw any errors after restarting. To check if everything went smoothly, load the PHP test page in your browser. You should see a section similar to the following image:

Check if these settings are present and enabled:

  • DOM/XML.
  • DOM/XSLT.
  • libxslt.
  • libxml.
  • zlib (for Mac OS).
For libxml and libxslt, only the version number may be listed (instead of the enabled/disabled status); this indicates they are present on your server.

Congratulations! Your server is now prepared for server-side development using XML and XSL.

Configuring PHP 5 Servers
On PHP 5 application servers, XML and XSL support has been greatly improved:

  • Server-side XSL transformations are a lot faster.
  • XML functions are W3C compliant.
  • XML functionality is usually built-in and enabled by default.

    Here is what you need for server-side XSL development on PHP 5:

  • DOM extension, which, in turn, requires libxml2.
  • XSL extension, which, in turn, requires libxslt.
The lixml2 and libxslt libraries by the Gnome project are usually built-in for Windows, so you don't need to worry about them. You may need to compile these libraries into your PHP installation on Linux-based systems, although this is unlikely in most cases. Go to the section corresponding to your operating system for detailed configuration instructions.

Configuring PHP 5 Servers on Windows
The following instructions assume you have already installed a web server with PHP language support on a computer running Windows. Fortunately, there are a lot of free tools on the Internet that help you install and configure a web server automatically. My personal favorite is WAMP Server, which also sets up a MySQL server, phpMyAdmin and SQLiteManager, in addition to Apache and PHP. For detailed instructions on installing WAMP Server, visit this web page.

Before proceeding with the configuration instructions, check if the required libraries are not already enabled on your server by loading the PHP test page in your browser.

As of PHP 5.0, libxml and libxslt libraries, and DOM extension are built in the PHP installation. The XSLT extension is also included by default, but may be disabled in your particular server configuration. To enable the XSLT extension on Windows, follow these instructions:

  • Locate the php.ini configuration file for your current PHP installation (usually in C:\Windows\) and open it using any text editor (such as Notepad).
  • Note: You can find out where the PHP configuration file (php.ini) is located on your system by loading the PHP test page containing the server information in your browser. Look for the Configuration File Path setting:
  • Search the following line:
  • ;extension=php_xsl.dll
  • and uncomment it by removing the ; character.
  • Save the php.ini file.
  • Restart your web server.
To check if the configuration went smoothly, read the section Testing PHP 5 Servers.

Configuring PHP 5 Servers on Linux
The following instructions assume you have already installed a web server with PHP language support on a computer running Linux. Before proceeding with the configuration instructions, check if the required libraries are not already enabled on your server by loading the PHP test page in your browser.

As of PHP 5.0, libxml and libxslt libraries, and DOM extension are built-in in the PHP installation. The XSLT extension is also included by default, but may be disabled in your particular server configuration. To enable the XSLT extension on Linux, follow these instructions:

  • Configure PHP with XSL support. To do that, execute the following commands, in this sequence:
  • ./configure \
  • --prefix=/usr/local/php \
  • --with-config-file-path=/usr/local/php \
  • --with-apxs=/usr/sbin/apxs \
  • --with-libxml-dir=/usr
  • --with-xsl=/usr

    Note: The flags used above only enable XSL support. Add any other flags that might be necessary for your own configuration, such as MySQL support, LDAP, FTP, and so on. Also, the path to your current PHP installation may be different than /usr/local/php, depending on your settings or the Linux/Unix version you are using.

  • Compile PHP:
  • make
  • Install PHP:
  • make install
  • estart your web server.
To check if the configuration went smoothly, read the section Testing PHP 5 Servers.

Configuring PHP 5 Servers on Mac OS X
The following instructions assume you have already installed a web server with PHP language support on a computer running MAC OS X. In the default configuration, the Apache web server is installed, but PHP support is disabled. To learn how to enable it, read the article by James Pelow.

Before proceeding with the configuration instructions, check if the required libraries are not already enabled on your server by loading the PHP test page in your browser.

You can also download a package that will install PHP 5.04 (as of writing this article) with default support for XML and XSLT from the entropy.ch website.

  • If libxml2 is already enabled, you can skip steps 1-7.
  • If both libxml2 and libxslt are already installed, but XSLT support is not enabled in your PHP installation, you can skip steps 1-12.
  • Download the latest source code version of the libxml2 library from the Gnome Project website.
  • Extract the library to a folder of choice, using either StuffIt Expander, or the tar command line utility:
  • tar xzvf libxml2-2.6.20.tar.gz
  • Open a Terminal window and navigate to the created folder.
  • Configure the libxml2 library with the following command:
  • ./configure ­with-prefix=/usr/local
  • Compile the library:
  • make
  • Install the libxml library on your server (you need to know the root password):
  • sudo make install
  • Download the latest source code version of the libxslt library from this website.
  • Extract the library to a folder of your choice, using either StuffIt Expander, or the tar command line utility:
  • tar xfz libxslt-1.1.14.tar.gz
  • Open a Terminal window and navigate to the created folder.
  • Configure the libxslt library, by issuing the following command:
  • ./configure --with-prefix=/usr/local \
  • --with-libxml-prefix=/usr/local /
  • --with-libxml-include-prefix=/usr/local/include \
  • --with-libxml-lib-prefix=/usr/local/lib
  • Compile the libxslt library:
  • make
  • Install the libxslt library on the server (you will need the root password):
  • sudo make install
  • You need to recompile PHP to enable XML and XSL support. Configure PHP with at least the following flags:
  • ./configure --with-xml ­with-zlib ­with-xslt

    Note: The flags used above only enable XSL support. Add any other flags that might be necessary for your own configuration, such as MySQL support, ldap, ftp, and so forth.

  • Compile PHP:
  • sudo make
  • Install the new PHP version. It will overwrite any previous version.
  • sudo make install
  • Restart your web server.
To check if the configuration went smoothly, read the section Testing PHP 5 Servers.

Testing PHP 5 Servers
The first proof of a successful installation is that your web server doesn't throw any errors after restarting. To check if everything went smoothly, load the PHP test page in your browser. You should see a section similar to the following image (Figure 4), if the DOM extension was successfully enabled.

If XSL support was successfully enabled, too, you should also see a section similar to this one:

Check if these settings are present and enabled:

  • DOM/XML.
  • libXML.
  • XSL.
  • libxslt.
For libxml and libxslt, only the version number may be listed (instead of the enabled/disabled status) ­ this indicates they are present on your server.

Congratulations! Your server is now prepared for server-side development using XML and XSL

Where to Go from Here
In this article, I have explained how to prepare your PHP server for server-side XSL transformations. Now you have everything you need to start exploring the new XSL authoring features in Dreamweaver 8. A good point to start my next article, Consuming a Remote RSS Feed with Dreamweaver 8.

You can also have a look at these additional resources:

  • The article Displaying XML Data walks you through using client-side XSL transformations to process XML documents.
  • John Skidgel shows how a restaurant website can use XML and XSL to display its daily menu, in his article, Creating XSLT Fragments for Server-Side Transformations.
  • Marc Liyanage's website offers a wealth of resources for MAC OS users.
  • The XSL FAQ
  • The Macromedia XML and XSL Developer Center Resource page

More Stories By Marius Zaharia

Marius Zaharia is the documentation manager at InterAKT Online, a developer of professional tools for dynamic web development. When he's not writing articles and tutorials to guide web developers, he enjoys learning new things and exploring new technologies. His interests range from web development to politics and avantgarde electronic music.

More Stories By Cristian Ivascu

Cristian Ivascu is a technical writer with InterAKT Online. He is a strong supporter of open-source software and a fan of Japanese culture and rock music.

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