stage two - tutorial prerequisite reading and useful links
OK I know what PHP and MySQL is, what the hell is Smarty??
is a template engine for PHP. More specifically, it facilitates a managable way to separate application logic and content from its presentation.
This is best described in a situation where the application programmer and the template designer play different roles, or in most cases are not the same person. For example, let's say you are creating a web page that is displaying a newspaper article. The article headline, tagline, author and body are content elements, they contain no information about how they will be presented.
They are passed into Smarty by the application, then the template designer edits the templates and uses a combination of HTML tags and template tags to format the presentation of these elements (HTML tables, background colors, font sizes, style sheets, etc.)
One day the programmer needs to change the way the article content is retrieved (a change in application logic.) This change does not affect the template designer, the content will still arrive in the template exactly the same. Likewise, if the template designer wants to completely redesign the templates, this requires no changes to the application logic. Therefore, the programmer can make changes to the application logic without the need to restructure templates, and the template designer can make changes to templates without breaking application logic.
Useful links to read before starting coding through this, or to just reference:
Smarty Home Page
Crash Course in using Smarty
Popular Smarty Forums
PHP Home Page
MySQL Home Page
Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP setup
Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP setup