Great Book, Poor Title,
This review is from: Creating Interactive Websites with PHP and Web Services (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that I did find this book quite helpful. It contains a wealth of ideas about topics that a Web site developer would want to know about. The author doesn't just talk about designing a Web site with static data. These Web sites really are interactive, which is the direction that many Web sites are headed today. For example, if you want to create a blog, Chapter 6 will get you started. Are you a merchant that wants to get started with online payments? Chapters 8 and 9 will get you started; although, they probably aren't the end of the journey because the book doesn't address security and privacy concerns. Even so, you can get a lot of information out of this book.
The book does have a few problems, one of which is the title. I didn't really see much in the way of real Web services coverage. Yes, there is a simple example of working with Amazon Web Services in Chapter 7, but that's not really a lot of coverage. The supposed coverage of Google Web Services in Chapter 7 doesn't deal with Google Web Services at all--it discusses how to create request URLs for the standard interface. Does this make the techniques less useful? No, I found them quite helpful, but this truly isn't a Web services book.
I found it a little jolting that the author has just barely introduced functions on page 17 and on page 18 you're already working with databases. I wouldn't consider this a book for the novice--it's not a gentle introduction to PHP at all.
The author also has a tendency to either omit necessary configuration details or mention them in passing so that a reader could easily miss them. For example, the reader needs a developer token to work with the Amazon example, yet the author devotes a single sentence to this topic and it's buried in a paragraph with other details. Consequently, even though the code probably all works, some readers have probably gotten frustrated trying to figure out the missing details.
Given what I know about the book now, it's still a very good purchase and will stay on my bookshelf. The author introduces too many good ideas and interesting concepts to ignore this book. Hopefully, a second edition will fix some of the annoyances that kept the first edition from being as good as it could be.