on April 14, 2004
Scenario: I'm an experienced programmer and I'd tinkered with PHP a little bit but needed to get going on a serious project. Fast.
This book was the answer. It covers all the essential ground in a well structured way. Don't be fooled by the word "Mastering..." in the title. The author is not too frightened to give you another grounding in the basic principles behind web architectures - but he does it in such fluid fashion you won't get frustrated.
This book will teach you great conventions and techniques to ensure you program effectively and give you a firm foundation on which to build robust, extensible projects. The chapters: "Forms and User Interaction" and "Data Validation" are excellent.
Reading this book will incur a slight hit to your productivity. That's because the example projects are so illuminating that you'll just have to put the book down and try them out yourself. Within a few hours you'll have twenty-odd scripts open on your screen. That's pretty rare in a programming book. I usually rate them based on the brevity of the examples rather than vice-versa.
Prior to picking up this book I'd been looking up the answers to my queries using my faithful old search engine. Now I rely on this book almost exclusively. There's no crud to wade through. This book provides the answers to your questions and knits them together in a solid fabric of clear explanations, real world examples, and good style.
I think programmers of nearly every level would find this book useful.
on October 19, 2003
This is the worst PHP book i have seen. This is my 3rd. I bought this book expecting advanced topics like email and pdf and gd but this book really dissapointed me. We can call it a extended copy of the php manual. Without any practical applications, this book keeps on telling different functions with little code snippets like in the php manual. the book fills in the space by lengthy texts.
It really makes an easy to learn language like PHP much more difficult.
If this book had a title somethin like "PHP Reference Guide", then i wud have given this book 4 stars but since it misleads the poor beginners by saying "if u r a beginner, this book starts from basics" which is not correct in any case.
There are plenty of books for beginners and intermediates. A very good book recently released is (by Julie Meloni) PHP Essentials 2nd Edition so get it as its the best books for beginners you will ever find.
I just kept wasting my time in this long manual. i dont know how the other readers give it so good rating?
on February 11, 2003
This is a review of two books. I'm going to tell you why I bought Mastering PHP 4.1, and why I did not buy PHP Bible, 2nd edition.
First, I have the PHP Bible 1st edition, and a bunch of other PHP books. But they're all outdated now. One thing that has changed dramatically in the PHP language is the use of forms. PHP used to turn a form field named "comment" into a variable called $comment. But then for a while, $HTTP_POST_VARS['comment'] was preferred. And now $_POST['comment'] is the best way to get that form field (I think, I'm not even sure, it has changed so much).
So I go looking for books that can really walk me through all these changes, and teach me the newest, best way to handle forms. PHP Bible mentions $_POST, and if that's all you're looking for -- the newest additions to the language -- then the Bible is worth considering. It's the most current. But PHP Bible really skimmed over forms. It doesn't even have "forms" in the table of contents (well, it does mention processing GET and POST input, all grouped in Chapter 9, "Passing Information Between Pages"). But that chapter is doing so many other things, forms get shortchanged.
So I look at Mastering PHP 4.1, and right in the table of contents is a chapter on forms. I go through the chapter, and it's really good, even mentioning all the new variables for forms. The weak spot is that some of their code examples still rely on "register globals" -- but then they followup with a section on why to keep "register globals" off and they show an example of how to rewrite one of the scripts. That's pretty close to exactly what I wanted: I know the old way but want to learn the new stuff; they showed the old way, then they showed the new stuff.
But there's more, and this is what solidified my choice. I tried looking up how to handle file uploads, either by PUT or POST. I looked in the index of the PHP Bible for $HTTP_POST_FILES, looked under "forms" for anything close, looked under "files" for anything close, looked for the "is_uploaded_file" function. Nothing. I skimmed Chapter 9, and did find mention of this, but pretty minimal. Then I looked to Mastering PHP 4.1. In the index under "forms" I see "uploading files" and turn to a page that has a nice walkthough with code. It also has a half-page discussion of some things you can do to secure the PHP code that handles file-uploading. While I'm reading this, I realize that any place there is some HTML in an example, it's actually XHTML compliant. Nice. I decide to buy Mastering PHP 4.1. I give PHP Bible 3 stars because a lot of the good stuff from the 1st edition is still there, and if you don't have specific needs, it's an OK book to use to learn PHP programming. But I give Mastering PHP 4.1 5 stars, even though it's a few months older, because it has a lot of the new info in a well-laid out format with a good index, good Table of Contents, and more well-developed content.
on February 4, 2003
While Mastering PHP 4.1 is a surely an interesting book, it is written quite amateurishly, which really does pique me.
For example, I would estimate that there is a typo every 3 pages, a grammar mistake every 10 pages, and a repeated word every 20 pages.
More importantly, the format is absolutely horendous. In almost every one of their sample programs, the authors employ the use of various PHP concepts that are not to be introduced until much later on...and they rarely explain why they introduced such concepts premateurly.
Almost every other page, I find myself flipping through the index, searching for a word that they forgot to explain.
Overall, a quite mediocre book.
on September 19, 2002
This book is a great book if you want to learn php. It goes through all of the basics and adds a lot of detail if you choose to really dig in. The index is huge and has answers to 99% of the questions I have. The attached CD really helps a lot too, since you can see the code and interact with it. A book doesn't always cut it. I recommend this book to any php newcomer and to anyone who wants a guide to this great language.
The section on SQL and database interaction also helps for those who want to work on interactive sites and storing user data. This book is the best php book I have come across yet.
on June 12, 2002
I probably own more computer books than the local library. Some are very good, others are downright terrible. Mastering PHP 4.1 is in the former category.
For starters, this book covers the newest version of PHP. An added bonus is the coverage of connecting to a PostgreSQL database. Other authors seem to assume that the only database in use with PHP is MySQL.
The authors employ an excellent writing style. Important concepts are not "glossed over," and at the same time you are not continually reminded of the obvious.
Excellent work, and that you.