Over the holiday break I had some time to read (a better word might be "consume") Jonathan Stark's book "Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9." In a little more than 250 pages, Jonathan manages to do the impossible: He explains how to put the FileMaker API for PHP to use.
The book is divided into four logical sections. The first section provides background information for those new to the world of Web publishing, including an introduction to HTML and PHP. After reading this section, you won't be an HTML expert, and you certainly won't be a PHP pro. But you will have a good understanding of the technologies involved in Web publishing and development, and how those technologies fit together.
The second section of the book provides a foundation for the examples that are used later on. The section includes a chapter on how to setup a FileMaker database (creating fields, working with the database, performing finds, and so on). I'm sure that the majority of readers will find this section to be unnecessary and might be tempted to skip it. However, the chapter does cover one key topic that you should take a few minutes to check out, and that is an explanation on how to setup a FileMaker account (and grant it the correct privileges) that PHP can use to connect to the database.
The second section also covers installation, deployment, and configuration of FileMaker Server, as well as the new PHP Site Assistant. Jonathan makes a recommendation -- and one that I heartily agree with -- that if you do not absolutely need your own server, then using a server provided by a Web hosting provider is an ideal solution. However, if you do have your own server, you'll find this information to be of great use.
The third section of "Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9" includes what I consider to be the most valuable information in the book. This section covers the FileMaker API for PHP (often referred to as "FileMaker.php") itself, and does so using an example Web application that is developed and expanded throughout the section. The application is one that most readers will be able to associate with -- an online product catalog.
The section includes chapters on how to select, sort, and do finds against a FileMaker database using PHP. Another chapter explains how to alter FileMaker data over the Web, including the creation of new records and updates and deletions of existing records. There are also chapters on how to view, add, edit, and delete related data via PHP (which is accomplished using portals), as well as some very useful information on how to work with images (including images stored in container fields and those stored by reference using URLs).
The last chapter in the third section describes a very interesting concept: Developing a PHP application that automatically updates as the FileMaker layouts that it is built on are updated. For example, if a field is added or removed, the PHP application automatically adds and/or drops the field as well. If you are looking for an easy way to let your FileMaker users "self-manage" a PHP application, then this chapter will prove to be invaluable to you.
"Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9" covers a lot of ground, and does so in a way that makes it a fast and enjoyable journey. Jonathan's writing style and "voice" make it easy to follow along with the material. His expert knowledge of PHP and FileMaker is apparent, and he does a great job of sharing that knowledge in the book.
If you are looking for a good book on PHP and FileMaker integration -- whether you are new to the topic or consider yourself to be a pro -- then I highly recommend picking up a copy of "Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9."