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PHP 5 / MySQL Programming for the Absolute Beginner Paperback – Jul 23 2004

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1. Exploring the PHP Environment 2. Using Variables and Input 3. Controlling your Code with Conditions and Functions 4. Loops and Arrays 5. Better Arrays and String Handling 6. Working with Files 7. Writing Programs with Objects 8. XML and Content Management Systems 9. Using MySQL to Create Databases 10. Connecting to Databases within PHP 11. Data Normalization 12. Building a Three-Tiered Data Application Appendix A: Reviewing HTML and Cascading Style Sheets Appendix B: Using SQLite as an Alternative Data Source Glossary

About the Author

Andy Harris began teaching computing at the university level in the late 1980s as a part-time job. Since 1995, he has been a full-time lecturer at the Computer Science Department of Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). He now manages the IUPUI Streaming Media Lab and teaches classes in several programming languages. Andy resides in Noblesville, Indiana.

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Amazon.com: 26 reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
If you're new to PHP, GET THIS BOOK! DONT GO TO [...] March 31 2005
By Mavurik - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've been reading this book to learn PHP and it is undoubtedly the best book for beginners you're going to find. I've been trying to learn PHP since version 3 (yea, finally there is a book that I can understand). If you're new to programming, and new to PHP, do not listen to people who say 'oh, just go to [...]

The online help manual for PHP is not geared towards beginners. It's geared towards the type of people who simply have to read the rules of a programming language and then can go and program with it effectively. Basically, it's for people who know what they're doing. They have the programming mind already. I am not that type of person and many people who are new to programming are not like that.

Andy Harris' book teaches you PHP, but you will have to have a solid foundation in HTML/CSS (which I have) and it says that in the book. The only errors I've noticed in the book so far are HTML and they're nothing major. If you know HTML you'll be able to see them right off the bat and correct them for yourself (it's not like the book is $50 or something, it's just a minor inconvenience you'll only encounter maybe two or three times in the entire 12 chapter book). Also, the examples in the book are sometimes different from the ones on the CD (which implies that the CD is much more up to date than the book). Those are usually only minor changes to the code.

In any case, while reading this book everything is explained and introduced in a way that is easy for me to understand. I think the way he introduces concepts is great. He doesn't simply say 'these are the rules and let me explain them' like the other books. No, he gradually works you up to them, preparing your mind. I find that this is more effective and this is a beginning programmer talking, after years of trying to find a good book. The one thing that I think is great is that this book uses examples that are relevant to what you will be programming. Too many times (back when PHP 3 and 4 came out) have I read those books that use boring examples that I'll never use (like some math formula for example). Instead, the examples in this book are challenging, yet fun and practical, and he goes over every part of the code so that you understand what each part is doing. Sometimes the examples are really big, but this isn't a problem. Even if there is an area where his explaining doesn't do it for me, if I simply go over everything in my mind and break things down on a piece of paper I'm able to understand. The only reason I'm able to understand is because the concepts have been introduced in a way that I can know what's going on. The only issue is then figuring out what a large example is doing and that's something you have to figure out for yourself. I haven't run into a problem I haven't been able to figure out so far.

This book is shaping my mind into a programmer's mind. I can now see the planning involved in each program and I'm finally starting to see the method. It's a lot more effective than other books that simply give you the syntax, explain it, and then give you a problem to do without giving you relevant examples on how to use what you just learning and shaping your mind so that you'll know when each tool is effective, when you'll need to use it, and how they work in different situations. I now know the reason why I couldn't get through those books. I knew the rules, but my mind didn't know how to think like a programmer. All those so-called beginner books don't teach you that at all. Andy Haris' book does. I feel like I can go on to other programming languages now because I finally read a book that taught me the method.

PHP5/MySQL Programming for the Absolute Beginner is not the PHP5 bible but it explains PHP5 enough so that by the time you're done you'll be able to do what you want and get out there and learn more without being intimidated. If you're a beginner to PHP5, don't waste your time with other books that won't introduce you to the mechanics of programming. Get this book!
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Is what it says June 7 2006
By Patrick Oden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an Absolute beginner. When I say absolute I mean it. My education was spent in the history department and reading through texts written centuries ago. I took my last math class as a college freshman and only in the past couple of years opened up a web design program and got to learning html.

Programming is an entirely foreign world for me. It is an entirely foreign way of thinking for me. I can happily write twenty or more pages on some obscure incident in the late Roman Empire but show me a bit of code and my brain fogs over.

This being the case I found Andy Harris' book to be exceptionally helpful. He takes you step by step, explaining key concepts and vocabulary, inserting bits of humor and the occasional tangent, keeping the lessons fresh.

The first seven chapters deal more directly with the basics of PHP. The rest deal mostly with MySQL.

I got into PHP through my wrestling with Wordpress, and my interest in working with other CMS systems for an education environment. Underlying these great open source programs are PHP and MySQL. Harris' book, then, serves as a wonderful foundation for my pursuits as I move past being an absolute beginner.

It may not be appropriate for those with a stronger foundation in programming, but then the title should give that away. There are the very occasional errors in the code, but these are fixed in the provided CD, so it gives a person experience in discovering how to fix broken code, another great lesson. As most of the errors in the code come from my own mistakes, not the book's, getting good at comparing my work with the cd is a useful lesson indeed.

Because of this book I am no longer an absolute beginner but instead someone able to both develop new projects and work much more effectively with established open source programs. Andy Harris has written what I consider a "fog-lifter" book, a rarity in the programming instruction world.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VERY GOOD for the Absolute Beginner Sept. 8 2006
By L. Lamoreau - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent resource for people who have had NO programming experience or very little. For people (like some of the more recent reviewers) who do have programming experience in PHP or other programming languages, I imagine this book would be remedial as it covers basic programming concepts (which are the same in all programming language) like variables, loops, and arrays, in great detail. For the complete Novice, this is excellent. For the experienced, I'm sure this feels like a waste of time--but really--what can you expect from a book that says in its title "For the Absolute Beginner".

As it is titled "For the Absolute Beginner" and IS indeed for that type of person, I have no complaints whatsoever. And the other reviewer who said "The Code is outdated" is incorrect. PHP 5 is currently the latest version of PHP, and this book covers PHP 5. I've yet to have a piece of code not execute from this book (except when I mess up the coding...)

I'd highly recommend this book for a person with no real programming experience. I myself was 'hobbyist' programmer in BASIC fiften years ago...and this was an EXCELLENT book to remind me of all the things I had long forgotten as I delved into writing PHP and using MySQL.

There are TONS of topics and coding that is not covered here, but hey...for absolute beginner...this is THE PLACE TO START. After digesting this book, I would recommend going over to Jason Gilmore's "Beginning PHP 5 & MySQL". I purchased Jason's book first...was utterly lost...and then purchased this one. Now, after understanding these concepts much better, Jason's book makes MUCH more sense...and is a great resource in my PHP library.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Amazing Book!..... Sept. 14 2006
By usberto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was a little scared about other people comments, but I decided to buy the book and give a try, thanks God!... I did it,

I have learned so much with this book, if I can give 10 stars I will, hoping the author continue making books like this in a series, excellent work.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Sadly... Typos, Bad Code, Incoherent Passages... Sept. 1 2005
By Jackline Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While the concept of a book for "absolute beginners" is great, it seems the author has skimped out on spending actual effort in writing the book. There are a few gems and insights, but the vast majority of passages include obvious bromides, such as a whole paragraph wasted on the real-world tip: "don't include your real password if you share your code for mysql_db_connect."

Despite its title, the book only spends a short chapter on actual integration of php and mysql--and it doesn't even broach up the suppression operator (@mysql_connect(l,u,p) OR die('can't connect to mysql')). Moreover, the XML/PHP part is too brief.

In the file chapter, the guy implies that using file saving methods isn't efficient because in a real-world website, two users might write to the same file at once--thus, he won't spend much time talking about files, but will broach up more on multiple-user access in the XML chapter... which he seems to have forgotten (or did he expect us to waste $30 on a book just to go back to the easy-to-install php nuke system instead of actually designing our own functional CMS system allowing for multiple user file writes).

The code snipplets include a number of typo'ed functions (as do the text descriptions following them). Moreover, a lot of functions are used without adequate explanation. The book expects you to read through the documentation on php.net or to suffer through countless hours of frustration trying to get the exact code to work.

I'd say that this book is good to skim over (say, 20 minutes) if you don't know how to program. If you trust the guy's code snipplets and attempt to learn from those, then... may the author's non-existent errata help you.

If you disagree with any of this and have actually read the book, please contact me via jackline.hunter at gmail dot com.