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on May 7, 2003
* Note: I refer here to both the first and second edition *
This is the book I purchased to get started on server-side scripting; it probably says "user-level intermediate-advanced" to avoid lawsuits; I had no prior knowledge of server-side programming, and no trouble understanding.
It is divided in four logical parts:
(1) PHP tutorial
(2) MySQL tutorial
(3) General discussion on server-side scripting & e-commerce (very interesting)
(4) Projects
This book does an excellent job at explaining PHP & MySQL to the beginner, and goes much beyond the frustrating "intermediate" level where similar books often stop. It assumes a working knowledge of HTML, which everyone interested in this book already has in all likelihood.
It is cleverly written, clear and concise. The authors share their extensive experience with the reader, notably in the third part where common pitfalls are discussed.
The index is well done, which makes this book an excellent desktop reference in addition to being a good tutorial.
The CD contains all the code for the examples, the complete book in searchable PDF, and other goodies like the Apache Server and PHP.
My recommendation: go to and download PHPTriad to install & configure Apache/PHP/MySQL on your PC, or have someone knowledgeable do it manually for you to avoid headaches.
The only reason I can't give five stars to the first or second edition is the number of mistakes/typos in the code examples. The upload code doesn't work, PDF generation uses obsolete functions even in the second edition, etc.
Although most of the code supplied as example functions properly, it is annoying to know that a book written to teach you to program contains errors in the programming examples.
The second edition adds a chapter about XML and removes outdated URLs. Otherwise, it is the same book (including code typos).
Combined with the PHP & MySQL manuals available for download from their respective sites, allow a week or two of reading and you should have everything needed to start working.
All things considered, I strongly recommend this book.
PS: if your heart balances between ASP & PHP for server-side, consider that more servers are PHP-enabled, since it is cheaper (free).
If you want to stay in known terrain and use JScript, than go for ASP.
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on October 14, 2002
I have just started learning some PHP & MySQL development using "PHP & MySQL Web Development" published by Sams and "Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQL" from O'Reilly. Prospective readers might be wondering the difference between the two in deciding which one to buy, so I hope to shed some light on the issue.
Sams: The Welling and Thomson book is more "hands-on" in that it takes the reader step-by-step in developing an e-commerce website. The chapters are organized in a goal-oriented manner: PHP, MySQL, the basics of e-commerce, security, and design of the site.
O'Reilly: The Williams and Lane book is structured in a similar way by showing readers PHP and then MySQL. Examples to reinforce concepts are also provided. While the O'Reilly book also tries to take the reader in developing an e-commerce site, it is a bit more theoretical. Also, there are some differences in focus: the O'Reilly book has a section on using JavaScript while the Sams book has a final chapter on creating PDF files using PHP.
If I had to choose just one book, I would go with the Sams book due to its more gentle learning curve. However, I believe that the O'Reilly book is no slouch, and I will probably come to appreciate it more once I gain more experience in PHP and MySQL development.
One last word about my programming background: I knew a bit of Perl, Java, HTML, and JavaScript before tackling PHP and MySQL. I consider myself to be an "advanced beginner" (an oxymoron, of course). To get the most out of these two books, you should know HTML well enough to read it (you should at least recognize some tags) and it would definitely be helpful if you have some programming experience. You could very well make PHP your first programming language, but I would advise against it. Start with something like Perl (whose syntax is very similar to PHP's).
I highly recommend both books to prospective PHP and MySQL developers who are willing to spend some time and effort.
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on June 4, 2002
If you have absolutely no experience with PHP and want to jump into the the world of web development and potentially extend your skills to create real-world web applications, then PHP and this book are for you.
The book gives you a little of both world: PHP and MySQL. Teaching you the most popular functions of both PHP and MySQL, you should be able to write your own simple MySQL-driven PHP powered website or application in no time.
The book also dwell into simple real-world web applications written in PHP which you can build upon as you learn. These apps include: a web mail based service, a mailing list generator, a web forum, a content managing system and even a shopping cart system! All source and even the entire book is included within the accompanying CD-ROM disc.
This book alone is more than enough to get you started with PHP and MySQL programming. Of course, if you want to master or fine tune your skills in this field, I would suggest you continue your reading with: "PHP Functions", "Web Application Development with PHP 4.0", and "MySQL"; all published by New Rider.
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on July 14, 2001
This is such a good book that I wanted to take the time to write a review and give it 5 stars, which it richly deserves. The other glowing reviews helped me to choose this book over others, and they were right on the money.
I'm an experienced C/C++ programmer on Windows, but I knew nothing about PHP and MySQL -- and very little about Apache and Unix -- prior to opening this book. I've now read about 80% of it and, in the process, I've built a commercial-grade Website with user registration and shopping cart facilities, which was my objective. Reading this book was a very efficient use of my time -- it gave me exactly what I needed to build a practical Web application system with PHP and MySQL, and very little extraneous stuff.
The main prerequisite for this book is a working knowledge of HTML, and just a little background in procedural programming. Some of the earliest examples use HTML tags for tables and forms, with PHP use thoroughly explained, but without many notes on the HTML. A beginning programmer can learn effectively from this book, but as an experienced programmer I felt that it also worked well to bring me up to speed quickly on a new language.
Another value of this book not mentioned in other reviews are the many good recommendations for organizing your PHP code (applying basic software engineering principles) as your Web application gets larger and more complex. Many, many Websites have been built haphazardly and are now difficult to maintain because they haven't followed the excellent advice in this book.
I did notice the typos mentioned by other reviewers, but after reading 80% of this (867-page) book I feel they are very minor and really do not detract from the book significantly at all.
All in all, this is one of those rare books that is probably worth ten times the amount that you pay for it, and much more if you use it effectively.
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on May 13, 2004
This book ranks amongst the best on the subject. I spent nearly three months reading every page and duplicating examples on the CD. The book is remarkable in the way it manages to avoid coding errors which plague many computer books. Actually, there is only a very small number of typographical errors.
The book is easy to understand, even though at times one gets the impression the description is concise. It is to be appreciated how the authors covered the subject in about 800 pages. The PHP and the MySQL manuals each exceed 1000 pages. At times I found it helpful to read an independent description on the the subject, even though the manuals often lack the clarity of the authors' book.
The command mode approach is covered in the beginning of the book, while most of us have abandoned it, and it was a minor effort with some of the examples. However, the examples work, unlike some reviewers suggested. One has to be careful about case sensitivity of variables, which may be problematic with Linux servers.
Chapter 24 was a challenge to follow, considering the large number of functions employed by the example. However, patience prevailed, and was able to get it working after appropriate changes in parameters, such as user, password, and database names. Having the right to use only one database does not help my case.
What can be confusing to a student is having different entities with the same name, such as database name, table name, and column name all being called user. While this book avoided such an issue, my specific selection of variable names presented a problem. Overall, I find it difficult to generate comments detracting from the excellent rating of this book.
It was a great benefit to have a pdf version of the book on my hard disk. I could locate specific subject matters a lot quicker than I could by turning pages.
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on February 25, 2003
This book should not have "MySQL" in the title because it has very little emphasis on database design and programming. I bought because I thought it would discuss both PHP and MySQL equally, but its database discussion is cursory. It doesn't even discuss normalization. So I was initially very disappointed with the book. But now that my expectations have been adjusted (and I have purchased other books that talk specifically about MySQL), I now appreciate the book for what it does offer.
The best part of this book is the advanced projects in the back. These are not just toys, but skeletons of real world systems. By adapting the examples in Chapters 24 and 25, I was able to build a very nice shopping cart with authentication for a real-world Web site.
One nit... The authors' programming style drives me NUTS. It's modular to the point of insanity. I know some people like this way of doing things, but to me it's spaghetti code. They split things into zillions of different functions in zillions of different files. Many of the functions are one-liners. So to figure out how something works, you have to hunt through file upon file to find the real code. I had to read the sample code with a GREP program handy so when I opened one file to see calls to five other functions, I could find the other functions and then the functions THEY call, etc., etc., etc. Why does anyone think this way of coding is clear?? But this is a style issue.
Another style nit... The spacing in the code is weird. Either there are no spaces at all (e.g. xxx&&yyy) or everything is spaced evenly with no grouping (e.g. type = text name = Foo). Either way, it's hard to read.
I found a few coding errors, but this is to be expected in a project so large. Except for the style issues, the code was mostly good.
Despite its drawbacks, on the whole I've found the book very useful--mainly for the example projects in the back. I apparently bought this book weeks before the second edition was released. ::sigh::
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on January 22, 2003
I bought this book when I was just getting started on a website for my neighborhood, and although I am an experienced developer with knowledge of ASP, JSP and SQL, I had not personally worked with PHP or MySQL before.
In less than a month's time, using only this book and the PHP language reference (included with PHP) I was able to build a website with user logon, discussion forums, user-customizable profiles with the option to upload pictures of themselves, and online web email. I wrote all of this from scratch, using the examples from this book, and this book alone.
For those of you who are learning to develop "live" (ie. non-static HTML) websites, and you've chosen to use only open-standards technology to do so, I can't imagine a better book to assist you than this one. It does a fantastic job of explaining things in simple terms, and provides a very good overview of PHP and MySQL, covering the subject matter clearly and concisely, without a lot of additional, unnecessary verbage.
I was originally going to develop my website using JSPs, but learned that my ISP did not support JSPs, only Java servlets (!), so I was forced to look at PHP as a faster, easier way of developing the site. It has been an exciting learning experience, thanks mostly to this book. The book is worth the price, and then some.
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on November 10, 2002
I always borrow computer books from library and buy some from bookstores. This book is one of few that really touched me and make me "love" it. I can't put it in my bookshelf, I must put in a touchable place on my working brench as I always like to refer from it.
Its structure is good, wordings are simple and straight forward, examples are clear and step by step. Before I read it, I know nothing from PHP and mySQL. After reading it, I have confidence and skill to develop any complicated web application as this book does not only make you know "what to do" but it also explains to you "why and how to do".
After reading some chapters of it, I started to eager to read all pages of this book. It is really a computer book that makes me so excited while keep on reading it and following it to do my coding. And I love its real application examples too, they gave me lot of ideas of how to make a real-life application. I promised myself I must write a review in to let others to know how good is this book. So I suggest if you really want to do some PHP web application, buy this book before it is out of stock. I tried to help my friend to get 1 in local bookstore but already failed.
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on November 4, 2002
I don't write alot of reviews, and hardly ever give 5 stars, but this one is worth it. This massive text (800+ pages) includes all of the basic elements that either a beginner or an advanced user may look to a text for assistance with (note: these subjects, PHP and web databases, are traditionally self-taught at this time, a good text is ESSENTIAL!). The CD includes open source licensed Apache, PHP and MySQL (Linux and WIN), and all code from the book.
The book format is logical and good for self-pacing; early sections teach PHP language features (including arrays, regular expressions, objects/classes), then MySQL language and calling constructs (RDMS design theory, SELECT, UPDATE, INSERT, and advanced SQL). Later chapters discuss implementing user authentication and security, session mgmt and other advanced concepts. Final chapters (over 250 pages) provide ample example web database applications that probably cover about any project you would use these languages for (including shopping cart, content mgmt, web-based e-mail, mailing list mgr and a web-based forum). The final chapter describes using PDF to format text documents (my ISP does not provide this module therefore I skipped that section).
I recently began a private web database project and made the decision to proceed open source (PHP, MySQL) versus going the Microsoft way (ASP, SQL Server). This meant I had to learn PHP and MySQL. I purchased 4 books and the Welling & Thomson text was most utilized of all. My only gripe is they don't provide summary reference sections on PHP and MySQL functions / commands. You will probably just download the official user manuals for these anyway.
This book is well worth the price, IMHO.
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on September 24, 2002
This is an excellent book. Well, that's not much of a review, so let me explain what makes it so excellent.
I was not a programmer when I read it, but I can now confidently code fairly interesting things. I had an objective in mind, but I didn't know how to create it. Now I do, so I saved a few thousand dollars on hiring someone else.
I knew what object-oriented programming was, but didn't know what power it hid inside. Now I can harness the power of PEAR and Accessor functions was quite an eye opener for me. Please don't laugh :-).
I had a faint understanding of C, but this book introduces you to the concepts gradually and smoothly. Before you know it, you start thinking like a C programmer. Yet the beauty of PHP is that you don't have to worry about memory allocations, variable definitions (although something like Options Explicit would be welcome), or variable types.
If you are an absolute beginner to programming and databases, you will probably be a little lost along the way. Just read it a few times and it will start to make sense, I promise.
As for me, I was an IT person who had a mission to do. At first I wrote a simple application using Dreamweaver MX, which is the absolute best software to use for this purpose, and ran out of built in options to do what I wanted to do. The next logical thing was to read an appropriate book. I've spent a few hours choosing, and finally settled on this one as most promising to teach me exactly what I needed to know. Corporate electronic libraries have their perks.
The book progresses smoothly to gently introduce the reader to the main string operations functions, variables, variable operations, classes, functions, and then it goes in-depth on specific integration issues of php, mySQL, and specific applications that are commonly necessary.
You will learn sessions, error handling, how to implement secure transactions and so on. Believe me, you can build an application that you can charge thousands for after reading this. I've done just that as a result because I no longer had to hire a contractor to get my work implemented exactly as it was specified in my design documents.
If you have a real world problem, you need real world solutions, not the "Hello world!" examples. This book is exactly what you want to read. I've read well over 300 computer books in general, and this one is really one of the very best I've ever read.
If you are a smart person who was given a mission impossible to implement in PHP with mySQL, this book will get you to at least intermediate level fast.
Enjoy your trip,
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