We provide the PHP Manual in several formats. For first glance, these formats can be devided into two groups, online readable formats and downloadable packages.
You can read the Manual online at http://www.php.net/ and on the several mirror sites. We advise you to choose one nearby mirror site, if you would like to use this form of our Manual, as you can get better speed. For the online Manual you can choose from two layouts, so you always have the ability to view the printer friendly version if you have a slow connection, or would like to print out one page. The main advantage of these online Manuals is that you can read the most actual manual along the user notes, and you don't need to set up any software, as you only need a web browser to see it. The major disadvantage is that you need to always be online, you can face with server availability problems, you can't do a full text search on the manual, and there is no full index of manual pages.
If you decide to download the PHP Manual, you can choose from many different formats we provide. What you choose depends on your operating system, and your personal reading style. If you are interested, how we can generate these various formats, read on the technical part of this appendix named How we generate the formats.
The HTML and text files may be the most crossplatform format, as there is a text viewer and/or a browser on all operating systems. We provide the HTML files in several compressed formats for the different operating systems. Using the all-on-one-page HTML or text version is not ideal for day to day work, although full text search is easy in such files. Note, that the compressed file with several HTML files contain more than 2000 files. You can serach in these files using your OS search capabilities such as the global search dialog on Windows or grep on unix like systems. Since it is not very comfortable using these tools, avail yourself of the online search as often as needed.
PDF is also a popular cross platform format. This is the best for printing, although we do not recommend printing out the manual on the whole, as it can take so much resources. As the manual changes from day to day, think twice before you print out the whole manual. Viewing PDF, you have the full text search ability. Note, that you need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the PDF files.
The PalmPilot DOC and iSilo formats are ideal if you travel a lot and would like to learn more from the manual while on road or in air. You can bring your Palm with you, with the DOC or iSilo reader installed respectively for the format you downloaded. This is not the best way to learn PHP, but can be handy to get answers quickly.
At last, but not least, we have a Windows HTML Help version of the PHP Manual. It is actually a spiced up HTML package. The biggest advantage of the Compiled HTML (also known as CHM) version is that the viewer provides full text search, search in search results, full index, and bookmarking. This format also kindly integrates with many popular PHP IDEs on Windows. The biggest disadvantage is that it is currently only available on Windows operating systems. You also need the MS Internet Explorer 4.0 or newer to access the CHM version, if you are on an older Windows system. A Visual Basic for Linux project is under the planing stage, which would include the development of a CHM Creator and Viewer for Linux. See their sourceforge page, if you are interested in the progress.