Larry Ullman in his PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide (4th Edition) provides a well written and very detailed tutorial about how to create dynamic web pages by effectively combining PHP and MySQL. This book provides the basic knowledge of dynamic web site creation presented in an easy-to-understand, quick-to-learn, easy-to-retain style. Moreover, Larry presents the information with relevant examples which can later be used as a toolbox of reusable code for web site developers, a *huge* value-add. The crescendo of his masterpiece is the final chapter which walks the reader through creating a basic e-commerce site.
What made his book so appealing to me is that the author walks the reader through his working source code, line by line, and explains what's going on behind the scenes. He also uses repetition (but not to the point of redundancy) to help the reader retain information. The examples are clear and relevant to modern web demands. Larry provides all source code on his web site, and it works!
The code is heavily commented and can easily be adapted to current web needs as it covers relevant topics to today's web site builder's needs. The source code does not merely cover a given concept. It also provides a general style of programming specifically applicable to dynamic web site creation which will quietly help even seasoned programmers be more effective. Much more than simple code snippets, these pieces of code are full, working examples which can easily be used to develop a new web site from the ground up but are also modular so they can be dropped into an existing site.
Larry provides detailed information about the functions included in his book, and his detailed but easy-to-understand writing style is a huge value add over the technical documentation found elsewhere. He also provides plenty of references on how to access the source technical documentation so the reader can get all the nitty gritty details if he so desires.
His book is heavily cross-referenced and provides many tips and comments as a supplement to the main text.
Moreover, the book moves along a consistent, measured pace from the first chapter to the bonus appendix - yes, make sure you read the bonus appendix as it is chalked full of useful information.
The only area of improvement I can think of (and this is a very minor point) is that having a bit more sample/test data for the database for each of the examples would have been useful for more detailed testing (and hence understanding) of the examples, especially for the ecommerce example.
This was the first book I have read by Larry Ullman, and I would like to say I recognized the long hours and hard work that went into this book and really appreciate his efforts. He has made my life all that much less complicated as I can now move forward confidently to begin the process of quickly developing a complex ecommerce site. Well done.