I'm a big fan of this book. I used the first edition to put a modest web commerce site up in about three weeks of spare time (see it at www.privategalaxy.com). Using only this book, I learned what I needed of how to use the freeware language PHP and the excellent freeware database MySQL (in fact I learned SQL from this book). And these two programs are a great combination supported by a large number of web hosting sites using Apache (an extremely common if not the most widely used server software).
I have just shy of a dozen other computer books--many of them are shovelware--full of glop because the publishers want thickness. And then there are some books where the authors seem to spend more time trying to show off how sophisticated they are than trying to explain things. This book has neither defect; its clear intent is to teach and it does so with economy and grace
Meloni is a solid technical writer. For those who like examples, there are lots of them (in fact a whole e-commerce site (no-I wrote mine from scratch) and there are compact appendices on the commands and functions you will actually use in the back. PHP is a language to get stuff done and this book is in the same spirit. But even supposing you want to use PHP to calculate fast Fourier transforms (heaven forbid!) this book is a good starter and supplimented by the free PHP web site, will get you there fast.