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5.0 out of 5 stars Who this book is for.
This book is for people who are expeirenced with PHP and who wish to refine/extend their applications development skills (hence the title). As such, it is suited to web designers who have migrated to programming but who have no real formal programming background. I highly recomend this book because it provides the right guidence to turn you into a real...
Published on Jan. 22 2002 by Tezz

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3.0 out of 5 stars Title is too broad based on material
This book has great content, but the title is too broad for the subject matter.
When I first saw the title of the book, I was excited because I thought it was going to cover PHP web development. Instead, the book explains certain subjects within development, not all "web" development per se either. Talking about proper coding techniques is nice, but not what one...
Published on Sept. 5 2002 by Mrs. Soap Maker


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3.0 out of 5 stars Title is too broad based on material, Sept. 5 2002
By 
Mrs. Soap Maker (Midwest United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
This book has great content, but the title is too broad for the subject matter.
When I first saw the title of the book, I was excited because I thought it was going to cover PHP web development. Instead, the book explains certain subjects within development, not all "web" development per se either. Talking about proper coding techniques is nice, but not what one would expect based on the title.
I was hoping for coverage on HTTP variables and how to extract data from them when using Form tags. Especially, SELECT tags with multiple selections allowed. Unfortunately, the authors chose to talk about how it works behind the scenes. This is nice to know, but as a developer, I thought the book would have covered more on "development"!
There is some good information on security and on array processing. Its written so the reader can get a good understanding on how web processing is done, problems to avoid, and how to use PHP in a very professional manner. I wouldn't recommend this as a reference book, but as a good book to read for any intermediate or advanced PHP web developer. It could enhance your current skills and coding practices.
As for me, I was hoping for a PHP web development book that provided aspects on using php to build various common web applications, like shopping carts, and how/when to extract HTTP globals, session variables, logins, menus, form tags, etc. This is what I was expecting when I saw the title. While I was dispointed that it didn't cover this material, the book did provide some useful information in certain areas.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who this book is for., Jan. 22 2002
By 
Tezz (Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
This book is for people who are expeirenced with PHP and who wish to refine/extend their applications development skills (hence the title). As such, it is suited to web designers who have migrated to programming but who have no real formal programming background. I highly recomend this book because it provides the right guidence to turn you into a real "professional" web "programmer". So this book is a MUST if you have no formal programming training. I think that you need to be better than intermediate at PHP itself to understand ALL of it but it would still be useful for people who have already (but only) had a beginner's introduction.
Many of the discoveries in this book are quite profound (particularly with regards to how PHP implements structures such as arrays and objects) but it can be tough to read/comprehend if you're not really interested in the finer points. The author _does_ demonstrate how the finer points affect real-world implementations.
The nature of the [advanced] topics means discussing wider topics like XML are important and I think the author has approached this very well.
I found the session management part of this book by itself worth the purchace price. The only part of the book I didn't bother to read was the last chapter on writing your own PHP modules since I'm not a C programmer, however this may change.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too biased, Sept. 18 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
As a web applications developer, I tried out PHP on my own and then bought this book. This book is good, in terms of the theories behind PHP, however I think the author has a tremendous bias towards PHP. This is fair but he doesn't credit other CGI languages as much.
In chapter 8, the author discusses why certain companies chose PHP over say, Perl. I was in close touch with the first company he discusses and if you go to their website you will see why one probably should stay away from PHP - PHP slows the sites down tremendously.
Stick to Perl. The amount of modules available for Perl are tremendous, and same goes for regular expressions, security, and speed (which I feel PHP lacks all those). With the HTML::Mason module it is possible to embed Perl into .html files.
If you know Perl, no need to really buy a book on PHP. It's easy as the syntax of PHP is borrowed from C, Java and Perl.
Buy the book if you want to learn some interested general theories about the way web applications work, not how to code PHP.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing lack of depth and reliance on the CD, Sept. 3 2000
By 
Michael A. Alderete (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
I was disappointed with this book. As others have pointed out, this should not be someone's first book on, or first exposure to, PHP. You cannot learn PHP from this book.
That's OK, I've been using PHP for a couple years now. I was looking to take my PHP application development skills to the next level, beyond coding and into engineering. And the book gets sooooo close to being able to do that...and then just turns away from the challenge.
Here are some specifics:
* Many times the authors suggest you refer to other books to learn about other topics in software engineering to learn about topics they're breezing by, but they don't make useful suggestions for which books to actually go read.
* Many times the authors start discussing a major, important topic, explain a few details, and then implicitly refer you to the source code that's included on the CD.
* I wanted to learn about the optimal layout and organization of files and routines in a project. The authors make an initial stab at describing a good file system organization, but then fail to follow up and finish the job, leaving 80% unsaid. I suppose the example application on the CD will give me more info.
* What ought to be the heart of the book, a walkthrough of a real-world "knowledge repository" application the authors wrote for a client, is a mere 12 pages. You're advised, once again, to look at the source on the CD to learn more.
It's maddening. The authors are clearly PHP *experts*, and good software engineers to boot. And they know what they ought to be telling their reader, they just don't do it in any detail.
This would probably be an outstanding book if it was 150-200 pages longer (it's under 400 pages), with 75% of that dedicated to walking through all the design decisions and code explanations for their sample app.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Such a great language - such a great book!, Aug. 12 2000
By 
Ken Deal (Sidney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
I've been a professional programmer for 10 years now (client/server applications), but I haven't made the move to WEB programming yet. Some colleagues pointed me to PHP for web development and I immediately fell in love with it (coming from C/C++). Still, many basic concepts of web development were completely hidden for me and while I had no problems to learn PHP's syntax quickly, I didn't quite understand all the meanings of sessions, XML, web security, and so on. Then I found this book and I was ENLIGHTED.Do I hate all those fluffy computers books with no meaningful content but lots of source and function references! In contrast, the authors of this book write in a very straight-forward way, precisely, and still entertaining. And they cover many concepts behind web development, focusing on the implementation with PHP. It may be a lucky coincidence, but the authors wrote exactly about the things that interest me as I'm starting professional web development with PHP. The only chapter I didn't really need was the one about coding conventions because experience has already taught me to comment and format my code. Everything else I can put into practice immediately. I've found particularly helpful the tips&tricks the authors provided; they're clearly taken from their own real life experience and have saved me hours of finding my own solutions to strange problems.Therefore, this book was great for me and I'd warmly recommend it to others. This one is going to stay on my desk for a while! :-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Such a great language - such a great book!, Aug. 12 2000
By 
Ken Deal (Sidney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
I've been a professional programmer for 10 years now (client/server applications), but I haven't made the move to WEB programming yet. Some colleagues pointed me to PHP for web development and I immediately fell in love with it (coming from C/C++). Still, many basic concepts of web development were completely hidden for me and while I had no problems to learn PHP's syntax quickly, I didn't quite understand all the meanings of sessions, XML, web security, and so on. Then I found this book and I was ENLIGHTED.Do I hate all those fluffy computers books with no meaningful content but lots of source and function references! In contrast, the authors of this book write in a very straight-forward way, precisely, and still entertaining. And they cover many concepts behind web development, focusing on the implementation with PHP. It may be a lucky coincidence, but the authors wrote exactly about the things that interest me as I'm starting professional web development with PHP. The only chapter I didn't really need was the one about coding conventions because experience has already taught me to comment and format my code. Everything else I can put into practice immediately. I've found particularly helpful the tips&tricks the authors provided; they're clearly taken from their own real life experience and have saved me hours of finding my own solutions to strange problems.Therefore, this book was great for me and I'd warmly recommend it to others. This one is going to stay on my desk for a while! :-)
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3.0 out of 5 stars "A few cool programming tricks with PHP.", Aug. 9 2000
By 
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
When ordering this book, I expected it to contain one of the two things: a PHP language reference with examples, or a discussion of problems in web application development with an explanation of PHP approach to their solutions. Instead, I received a book that should have been titled "A few cool programming tricks with PHP". The biggest problem of the book is trying to cover too many general web- and programming-related concepts and failing to cover any of them in sufficient detail. As a result, advanced readers will get little beyond a few cool tips, and intermediate and beginning readers may not get enough information to actually use the concept. It seems like the authors picked several topics that they liked, and showed some neat tricks, without much regard for comprehensiveness or completeness.
Chapter 1, "Development concepts", has nothing to do with PHP, and adds little value. The topic is much better covered by "Code complete" by McConnell and "The practice of programming" by Kernigan and Pike.
Chapter 2, "Advanced syntax", touches on several small aspects of PHP syntax, and several selected data structures (linked lists and assosiative arrays). Since PHP does not present any difficulties in expressing these data structures compared to other programming languages, I didn't understand why those data structures were chosen here. The chapter also has an interesting example of self-modifying code (actually, dynamic code evaluation at run-time, which is not an unexpected feature for an interpreted language), and then warns "The technique used here ... should never be used like this in production scripts."
Chapter 3, "Application Design: A real-life example" presents a PHP-based IRC char server. Although authors show several interesting programming tricks, this is not a type of application one would consider "typical" for PHP. Interesting, but hardly useful.
Chapter 4, "Web application concepts", condenses together HTTP and sessions, secutiry, and usability in about 45 pages. Chapter 5, "Basic web application strategies", touches on "PHP normal form" (basic layout of a PHP script), project layout, CVS, and three-tiered applications. Again, if you are not familiar with the concepts, you risk not grasping the discussion.
Chapter 6, "Database access with PHP", covers PHPLib (I would expect a chapter on different database drivers avaiable for PHP). The chapter describes database abstraction and authentication used in PHPLib, but offers little practical advice. Read PHPlib online documentation instead.
Chapter 7, "Cutting-edge applications", offers some advice on parsing XML and using WDDX.
Chapter 8, "Case studies", offers a look at several commercial high-traffic sites that utilize PHP. The jist of all case studies is "we used it and it worked", although they include statements that will raise some eyebrows. BizChek.com case study says that PHP was selected over mod_perl because "BizChek developers felt that [mod_perl] might be lacking in dealing with high-volume Web applications". And MarketPlayer.com chose PHP because "most of the company was comfortable using WYSIWYG applications for Web development". I never thought of PHP as a "WYSIWYG" application.
Chapter 9, "Hacking the PHP core" is only truly useful for people who intend to contribute to PHP development, and I flipped through it very quickly.
Overall, the book is a good and entertaining reading written on a high professional level, but it definitely is not a reference nor a textbook. If you are already familiar with the concepts discussed in the book, you will find little new information. And if the concepts are new to you, you may be better off learning them elsewhere.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wide but shallow., Aug. 8 2000
By 
Sean Cazzell (Land O Lakes, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
When I first heard about this book on the authors web site (phpwizard.net), I was looking forward reading it. Based on the table of contents posted on their site, it looked like this was finally going to be a solid book about php.
This book gives a wide overview of php, but is far from being an in-depth guide. To adequately cover all of the topics in this book, it would need to be 2-3 times longer. The authors claim this book is for "experienced developers", but still feel the need to cover such "advanced" topics as how to indent your code and choose variable names.
The examples included in the book are weak, and not very detailed. There is one long, well explained example, but unfortunately it covers creating a web to IRC gateway with PHP - which is a neat hack, but not very relevant to the types of problems typically encountered when developing web applications with PHP (it would have been much better to feature a full blown shopping cart, or some other typical web app).
There are a lot of good examples and documentation on phplib, but since good documentation on phplib is already available on the web, it's not very useful (phplib is also based on the old php 3.0, so it's strange to see so much of a book on php 4.0 dedicated to it).
The book also includes a series of useless "case studies" which have absolutely no relevance to php development (besides, there are plenty of case studies on zend.com). The pages used for the case studies would have been better used to present more examples, and more detail.
Overall, I think the authors had a good idea here (and it's obvious they know what they are talking about), it was just poorly executed. This book cannot be recommended to absolute beginners or experienced developers. If, however, you know PHP, but are weak in general programming practices (choosing varible names, commenting your code, security, etc) you will probably get a lot out of this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have classical for advanced PHP development, Aug. 6 2000
By 
James Baldwin (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
Most definitely, this book is not for beginners - but if you're an intermediate to advanced programmers, either with experience in PHP or another programming language, you'll want this book. The best aspect of this book, and the reason I think it has the potential to become a true classical for the PHP language, is that it covers the concepts behind web application development. After all, you have the online reference if you need to quickly check the syntax of a function! But where's the manual that teaches you about coding style, project layout and management, security, usability, session management, user authentication and advanced XML topics?
The authors write about development concepts, PHP's advanced syntax, application design, web application concepts and strategies, the Phplib, XML applications, and extending PHP with C. While presenting a lot of extremely valuable information in a condensed format (for example, most longer code examples are not printed in the book but can be found only on the CDROM), the authors still write in an easy and friendly manner. You always see that they really know the PHP language, and that they love working with PHP - indeed, both are well respected in the community. The quotes from the Dao De Jing (or Tao Te Ching) really add atmosphere to the book and bring up the level of Perl's Camel book. A definitive thumbs-up for this excellent title!
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2.0 out of 5 stars A tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, Aug. 4 2000
This review is from: Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 (Paperback)
The book was written when php 4 was still in beta, and most of the new php4 functions aren't mentioned, or used in the examples (other than the session management stuff, which was around since the earliest of php4 betas)
I feel sorry for the dead trees that went into making the section on phplib -- like we really needed a 'phplib overview' or whatever the chapter is supposed to be. The online documentation for phplib is much better. Phplib is so vast, they could have dedicated 2 or 3 chapters to some real-world uses of some of its libraries - instead we get a look at its db abstraction (boring) and a quick look at its templates module. There is a lot more to phplib than this -- but everyone seems to be regurgitating the same stuff about it...
The Case studies chapter is just a brochure on why open source is so great, and how real web sites are using it. Except, there is no 'how' - just a bunch of rachet-jaws telling us nothing. Save the propoganda on how great open source is for someone else, I paid 50 bucks to learn, not be preached to.
The most interesting part of the book is the section on self modifying code. Of course, this is only mentioned in passing, with one full example given.
There is a section on coding standards in php. Indent 4 lines, blah. Gee thanks.
They walk us through the planning of phpChat, which involves an interesting look at HTML streaming and semaphores, but when it comes time to illustrating with code, the authors drop the ball.
A whole chapter dedicated to arrays. Neato. Not advanced array concepts, but the simple stuff you can find anywhere.
The section on xml is equally as useless - plenty of code, but again, rachet jawing, useless code.
There is even a section on web usability.
Bottom line: The authors are super smart, no doubt about it. In their attempts to be all things to all people, they totally blew it - big time. This is the first book in 3 years I've ever sent back for a refund. I didn't even bother to open the CDRom (which appears to be offered as an afterthought) which does seem to have some interesting things - a pdf version of the book, etc.
Do yourself a favor - buy the Medinets book, or the red book by Jesus and the gang of 4. They provide more real life examples, more problem solving and more meat than this book ever considered delivering. I believe you will be dissapointed by this book.
Don't misunderstand: The authors are obviously very bright, but they strike out here big time. I don't need a cure-all web usability book with a touch of C, XML and 'Case Studies'. I need stuff that challenges me, solves problems in new ways and uses some of phps more advanced features.
Will anyone ever write a php book that breaks new ground? How about detailing talking to COM or Java - not just two line examples - but real world uses?
This book would be a great OUTLINE, or rough-rough-rough-rough-rough draft. 50 bucks? Never in life.
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Web Application Development with PHP 4.0
Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 by Till Gerken (Paperback - July 22 2000)
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