After a brief discussion of Web database applications, the authors offer a rapid tour of PHP essentials, including loops, expressions, functions and common mistakes. Next comes a quick-start guide to MySQL, focusing mainly on the SQL language itself. The following chapters tackle connecting to MySQL and other databases, implementing user-driven queries and enabling writing as well as reading data. There is a useful chapter on data validation, both on the client and the server and excellent coverage of another crucial subject: security and authentication. This looks at the fundamentals of HTTP authentication and examines security features in both Apache and PHP, identifying weaknesses and explaining pros and cons. The closing chapters form a detailed case study, an online wine store, with complete code available for download. It embraces user management, a shopping cart, searching, ordering and delivery, covering many key topics in the process. At the back of the book are appendices on a range of issues, including installation, Web protocols, database modelling and session management.
Web Database Applications is tightly-focused, packing in lots of solid technical information without wasting words. It does not pretend to cover all the potential uses of PHP, and the screen shots will not win prizes for design, but it's a great handbook for building robust, secure database applications with these popular technologies. --Tim Anderson