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PHP Essentials Paperback – Mar 2000

64 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Premier; annotated edition edition (March 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076152729X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761527299
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 19 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 667 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,538,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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PHP is getting lots of attention as an open-source alternative to Microsoft Active Server Pages, not least because it runs on Linux and other Unix-like systems as well as on Windows. It is a server-side parsing engine that lets you put dynamic content such as online databases on your Web site. The beauty of server-side processing is that any browser can view the results, provided of course that you are careful with your Web-page authoring.

Few books on PHP are available, so PHP Essentials is particularly welcome. The author is a PHP enthusiast and also uses it professionally. Her aim is to provide a hands-on guide to installing and using PHP for those who have no previous knowledge of the product. The book's based on version 3 but covers new PHP 4 features too. Readers are expected to have a basic knowledge of HTML, though. Although databases such as SQL Server and Oracle are briefly discussed, there is a special focus on using PHP with MySQL, an excellent open-source database server. (This is a common partnership, so the focus is appropriate.)

After tackling installation and basic PHP scripts, the book gets straight to the business of linking with a database. The text includes a short introduction to SQL and a complete example of how to create and query a database table. Further chapters cover user authentication, session management with cookies, and Web-based database administration. Finally, a complete e-commerce example in included, with code both printed in the book and available from a supporting Web site. An appendix offers a PHP language reference.

This book teaches by example. It is manageable in size and has a friendly, real-world feel. It is not the last word on the subject, though, so it's best suited to PHP newcomers or those using rival technology who want an idea of what PHP can do. --Tim Anderson,


One of the best books that I have read and also enjoyed on this topic is PHP Essentials. -- Elizabeth Zinkann, Review Columnist for Sys Admin Magazine

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I got this book because not only was it on sale, but I had just been assigned a PHP project at work. Having read the book, though, I must say that it's the worst computer book I've ever come across.
First, for someone who is already a programmer such as myself (having used C, Perl, Lisp, etc. for years) the book is much too basic. I don't like to see the same 10-line example repeated half a dozen times with only minor changes. At many points, the author basically tells the reader "do it this way and don't ask questions." I don't like that, especially when the author seems to have contradicted herself. As a programmer, I was also shocked by the inaccurate presentation of sprintf() and other functions - turning them into special purpose functions. There were many other things badly done as well. Also, the language reference in the appendix is pretty lame.
Secondly, this book I believe would be bad for those beginning to program. Maybe if you think that you can whip out a webpage with PHP and get rich fast this book would be a good buy. But for all others - stay away! The book doesn't teach programming. Functions are not covered. Control structures are basically ignored. The presentation of variables is badly done. This is very bothersome to me indeed.
Finally, the scope of this book. I thought this was a book on PHP. So why do I have to wade through: how to install Apache & other web servers, a pathetic HTML "refresher", a discussion on database "theory", an SQL lesson, etc.? Another chapter filled with incomplete coverage of the functions for connectivity to 7-8 different databases. Then a chapter that's source code for some bloated e-commerce example.
All things considered, a worthless book. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or if you have lots of experience - please don't waste your time and money here.
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Format: Paperback
I'm the author of the best-selling guide to graduate school, so I know what I'm talking about when I rate a self-help book. Meloni's book is amazing! Clear, concise, everything a self-help book should be.
After unsuccessful struggles with other PHP and MySQL books, which caused me to fear I would never learn, thank God I found "Fast and Easy Web Development." Within a day I was writing code and I worked through the entire book in 4 days. After that I never looked back. A year later I have created a highly complex, database intensive site that includes an onsite email system, shopping cart, and all the other staples of an e-commerce site. Make no mistake, her book is introductory, and I quickly moved on to Professional PHP and other more advanced books (I now own 9 PHP books and 4 MySQL books). Nonetheless, I would never have understood them were it not for Meloni. Her book is at just the right level for a beginner. The examples are clear, and nearly every time I was just thinking "but what about....", she answered my question. Even better, her examples were FUN to work through! Some of the other books I've got are valuable, but fun? I think not.
I don't think the negative reviews of her book are fair. Her book is for beginners. So why are advanced programmers who found her book inadequate giving it 1 or 2 stars? That's like a medical doctor criticizing a book on first aid because it doesn't explain how to do heart surgery. People also bitched about typos in the book. But Meloni has a comprehensive listing of all typos on her web site at So the first thing I did when I got her book was go to the site and correct the typos (there were actually very few). Also, when I was getting started, Meloni answered several emails I sent her to ask for help on problems when I was stuck. That's clearly above the call of duty.
In short, if you're a beginning programmer, go with Meloni.
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By A Customer on May 18 2001
Format: Paperback
Who says that a book has to have 1000+ pages to be of any use. PHP Essentials has shown that it is not so. In just over 300 pages, the author has given everything that one needs to know about PHP to start working on it and develop a full fledge web-based application.
This book is great for a new user who has never used server side scripting and also for intermediate user though the first four chapters may prove too basic for them. After that its all about web-based application development starting from database setup, user authentication and progressing towards session management and database management through web.
The example codes given in every chapter are explained very clearly. A complex problem is broken down into simpler problems. For each simple problem a PHP solution is given and at the end, all the parts are combined with HTML to come up with the actual code for implementation.
PHP is used for various purpose on the Web and 'PHP Essentials' does a great job of covering the web application development.
Do not take this book as a guide to learning all PHP features, because it doesn't, although the name is misleading.
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Format: Paperback
This book isn't written like a novel. It's not made to make you laugh, cry, or write art forms for programs. This is one of the most straighforward intro programming books I have covered in a long time.. and it was FUN -- I was up until 05:00 one night after starting into the book, just playing around with each new feature as Julie talked of them, writing my own test code as I went.
The book covers many aspects of PHP in enough detail to get you started with the language. The first 8 pages of chapter 2 contain an HTML refresher on forms, tables, lists, etc, which was helpful to me: I haven't dabbled in HTML for some time. Also included is a pretty good Appendix (Appendix A) which contains a lot of reference material which makes reviewing the small details of functions you've previously read of quite easy.
Though almost anyone can pick up the book and get started with some PHP, you'll get maximum enjoyment and will move faster through the book if you know some basic C++, as the loops are set up pretty much the exact same way. As well, knowledge of basic HTML (things such as the <img> and <font> tags, and the attributes that many tags can take.)
If I could change something about the book it'd be: 1- more tables in the book (i.e., in the section on writing/reading data files, it lists the modes, but a table would make that very similar text easier to parse, and see differences.) 2- Add a small section early on with information on loops and general style for the 100% neophyte computer programmer. 3- A section on host security would be nice.. but that's just a personal wish, and can't really be expected in this type of book for beginning.
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