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on April 22, 2003
Wrox Press seem to have become masters at putting together volumes from a large number of authors. This 600-page volume is another example. This way of working does have some drawbacks, there is a little repetition of some basic stuff throughout the book, but not enough to truly detract from it.
The book, after some expository material, details 11 projects of increasing complexity. They use PHP, MySQL, PEAR::DB, Smarty and PHPLib. The target audience, according to the book jacket, are programmers who already have a good knowledge of PHP, SQL Databases and XML. Frankly, I think they overdo the amount of experience you need to use and benefit from this book. If you are on top of all those topics well enough to consider yourself "professional" then this book may be too simple. If, on the other hand, you are, like me, conversant with PHP and SQL but would like to take yourself up to "professional" use of technologies like XML, templating and WAP enabling then this book will be good.
The book is stuffed full of code examples -- and while you can download them in a ZIP file of over 3Mb you shouldn't think of this book as a "cookbook" as such. It shows various methods for performing most of the tasks you need to build solid backend web site systems to deal with a large variety of data. The projects cover importing and exporting of XML, messaging systems, forums, content management, using templates for both HTML and WML, search facilities and both simple and complex content management among other topics.
One thing I did appreciate about this book is how much they left out. No coverage of PHP fundamentals, SQL fundamentals and simple stuff like web forms might be covered once, at most. I certainly didn't need another book on my shelves explaining the basics.
My largest criticism of this book is one shared by too many modern titles for computer programmers; there is too much explanation and too much repetition. The section on SQL is the perfect example. Most projects contain some tables describing each database table, a diagram of the relationships and then the full SQL required to build them, their indices and some example data. For their proposed target audience this is way too much information, and as it is safe to assume that everyone who buys this book has a decent 'net connection, why put a printout of SQL available online in a PHP book? I could have easily written the SQL myself and having it in the book doesn't make it much easier and since it was available online it was a total waste of space.
I also have to take exception to, an (admittedly short) chapter devoted to installing and configuring PostNuke. It gives you no more information on this simple task than the online documentation. As someone who has installed PostNuke a couple of times and never needed any assistance beyond the readme files (and the first was long before I considered myself a good PHP programmer) I felt this was a complete waste of space and not "web development" at all.
My final criticism is once again shared by too many modern titles, there isn't really enough discussion of the design decisions and complications. There are enough code examples and walk throughs to satisfy anyone, but not enough key design decisions are discussed at all, with only a few short examinations of any real design problems. I would have appreciated some walk throughs of such things as code that was too slow, problems with race conditions, methods for mixing static and generated parts of a site and all the real world stuff that intrudes when your site gets slashdotted and that code that was so neat with a hundred visitors a day becomes a thousand. Then show how the code they provide is better, avoids the problems and how to get my code to the same state. Since this book is "professional" a little more real world, please.
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on January 14, 2003
Folks - i bought this book after i read Manuel Lemos' review of the same. It pretty much summed up,all that i thought about this book (after i put it down). I thought i should share the same here for the benefit of amazon[.com] customers. Here goes:
"Manuel Lemos, December 15, 2002
Often learning by example is the fastest and easier way to learn for many people. This is particularly true for people willing to learn how to develop solutions that solve their software needs. This is the focus of the book PHP4 Web Development solutions.
This book presents with great detail solutions for a significant number of common types of Web applications. These are not at all trivial applications. These are applications that address the needs of many sites.
The list applications is long but I will try to summarize the topic that they address and represent more frequent needs of people developing Web applications. Those applications implement: directory of subscribers of a site, online messaging, online multimedia content publishing, WAP applications for mobile devices, job board, classified ads board, a search engine and a portal.
Most applications are database driven and come with detailed database schema definition with detailed explanations on the purpose of the tables and their relationships.
These database applications use PEAR::DB as API. However, all of them are MySQL specific. This means that they may need to be adapted to work with other types of databases because currently PEAR::DB does not provide complete database independence support as it would be needed.
Most applications use either Smarty or PHPlib packages to render the user interfaces from template page files. This is useful to demonstrate how to separate the presentation layer from the applications' logic layer with all the convenience that arises from that.
Overall this is a very useful book that can be used to learn from practical examples of real world applications. If you were look for a PHP Web applications cookbook to help you to learn about common application and design and implementation techniques, this book is surely a good choice."
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on December 16, 2002
I ordered a copy of the "Professional PHP 4 web Development Solutions WROX", along with a copy of the "PHP Cookbook ORA" . Upon reading both these books, i thought i should offer a honest review comparing the two:
Both the books were informative in their own right
o The WROX book offered complete solutions to real world problems - a Simple/advanced CMS (the core of which you can plug into your site), a simple search engine, a classified ads board, and lots of cool creative case study solutions that i could extend to use in my hobby sites. The content was very enterprising and all of the solutions presented are the most popular one's amongst web developers these days. More interesting is that these solutions can be completely re-used and extended into your projects. However, the downside of this book is that you would need to have prior PHP knowledge either picked up from WROX' Professional PHP 4 (as is mentioned as a pre-requisite in the book) or from the Programming PHP ORA, or any another competent professional PHP programming books in the market.
o The ORA book had small snippets of code based solutions (very similar to the PHP Developers cookbook from Sterling and Andrei) that are very useful for programmers who are confounded with small to medium coding problems. However, there was nothing enterprising about the coverage, that one could not achieve from using a combination of the online docs + mailing lists. Another downside was that i could not find full solutions that i could re-use in my projects.
On the Other hand, i found
So the bottomline is:
oCare for a full meal - Pick up the Wrox book.
oCare for an appetiser - Pick up the ORA book.
I am posting this same review for both the books (so customers can benefit from it). However, i have ranked the Wrox book, a notch above this one, simply because i wanted a burp:-)
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on December 20, 2002
This "solutions" book expects its reader to have basic PHP syntactical knowledge (that which can be learnt from looking at the PHP manual) or any of the several beginning level PHP
books that are available for purchase from amazon (or otherwise). If you have a nice working knowledge of PHP or web development in general you will be benefited. Knowledge
of a database solution is added value advantage. Athough this may sound like a huge list of pre-requisites, the bare minimum of working HTML knowledge will also suffice (again note that most of the "solutions" presented here use the smarty templates)
Although i have been involved with PHP for quite some time noe,
i found the design solutions and the approach to code (and it's
reusablity) very attractive.
This book is definitely of value to all web developers, that don't want to reinvent the wheel.
Any/every PHP programmer/developer/designer should have it.
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on January 26, 2003
Before buying this, you should have a SOLID grounding in the theory and practice of php. This book does offer solutions, even ones that seem elegant.
BUT, it never really stops to explain the actual coding. It takes time to explain only the approach they take to the problem and the rationale for their approach. It assumes you understand the code and moves right along. You will not find ANY hand-holding here.
Moreover, of the solutions presented, at least two use XML. So, you might also want to have some xml skills on hand, if you are to make use of a significant part of this book.
Once again, the book seems good and you can learn from it. But, understand that you need a solid php foundation to effectively use this book.
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on January 24, 2003
I highly recommend that prior to buying this book, you go to the Wrox web site ... to preview the sample chapter. I found that I simply did not like the style of the book. It's "dive-right-in" approach of giving you a bunch of case studies, where each chapter outlines their approach to a particular problem, complete with source code, but with little explanation of techniques. You must register your book before you can download the source to the example code from the Wrox site. I also didn't like the heavy use of the Smarty template engine either. Simply put, I prefer the incremental approach like that of found in other books like "Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQL", by David Lane and Hugh Williams.
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on November 30, 2002
This is just the kind of book, that i have always
wanted. It's packed with solutions for the working professional/hobbyist, from cover to cover - Zero
pages wasted on frivolties.
I was able to completely re-use the core of the
simple content management system into my personal
website, and it worked just perfectly fine. I
also didn't have to type the code in by hand,
as all the code was available from the publishers
website - Sweeeet!!!
More books like this, and my wife and kids will
be a lot happier:-)
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on January 29, 2003
I simply enjoyed this book and all the solutions presented in it.
I had earlier mastered PHP from reading "Beginning PHP4" and "Professional PHP4" from the same publisher, and this book was a natural choice to make.
I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone that has a sparse to decent knowledge of PHP - you will love the engaging concepts,designs, code methodolgy and spanking case study solutions.Promise.
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on January 25, 2003
Seems Wrox is going great with PHP titles with pretty good collection coming one after another! Being into web development myself, this book has come as a great relief. It has given functions and methods with ready to use solutions. Could actually put them to use modifying them, plugging them in various applications.
A must have for the Web Developers / Designers!
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