'Hands-on' meaning extensive coding? 'Hack' meaning harmful or helpful to all involved?
Er, well 'Hands-on' - yes, you would be looking at a certain amount of coding, but i can assure you that PHP isn't hugely difficult - i've managed with it, and i'm certainly no great programmer (i haven't got any experience with c, c++ etc)..
'Hacking' - nothing to do with the dodgy activities of virus writers etc, just referring to coding in general, and hopefully helpful!
if you want to get an idea, if only for interest's sake, of the various options for creating interactive web pages, have a look at www.sitepoint.com
- they've got a wealth of information and some pretty good tutorials, too.