The PHP manual is provided in several formats. These formats can be divided into two groups: online readable formats, and downloadable packages.
Note: 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 We cannot recommend any of those, as they tend to become out-of-date very quickly.
You can read the manual online at http://www.php.net/ and on the numerous mirror sites. For best performance, you should choose the mirror site closest to you. You can view the manual in either its plain (print-friendly) HTML format or an HTML format that integrates the manual into the look and feel of the PHP website itself.
An advantage of the online manual over most of the offline formats is the integration of user-contributed notes. An obvious disadvantage is that you have to be online to view the manual in the online formats.
There are several offline formats of the manual, and the most appropriate format for you depends on what operating system you use and your 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 formats of the manual are the HTML and plain-text versions. The HTML format 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). The HTML and plaintext formats are provided as tar files compressed using the bzip2 archiver.
Another popular cross-platform format, and the format most suited to printing, is PDF (also known as Adobe Acrobat). But before you rush to download this format and hit the Print button, be warned that the manual is nearly 2000 pages long, and constantly being revised.
Note: If you do not already have a program capable of viewing PDF format files, you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
For owners of Palm-compatible handhelds, the Palm document and iSilo formats are ideal for this platform. You can bring your handheld with you on your daily commute and use a DOC or iSilo reader to brush up on your PHP knowledge, or just use it as a quick reference.
For Windows platforms, the Windows HTML Help version of the manual soups up 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.
Note: A Visual Basic for Linux project is in the planning stage, which will include the development of a CHM Creator and Viewer for Linux. See their SourceForge.net page if you are interested in the progress.