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 We cannot recommend any of those, as they tend to become out-of-date very quickly.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 the PHP.net website 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.
Two notable advantages of the online manual over most of the offline formats is the integration of user-contributed notes and the URL shortcuts which you can use to get to the desired manual parts quickly. An obvious disadvantage is that you have to be online to view this edition of the manual.
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 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, you will need some sort of decompression utility to get the files contained in the archives.
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 more than 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 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. CHM viewers for Linux desktops are also available. Check out xCHM or GnoCHM.
There is also an extended CHM version available, which is updated less frequently, but provides much more features. It will only work on Microsoft Windows though, because of the technologies used to build up the help pages.