Beginning PHP 5.3 Paperback – Oct 26 2009
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From the Back Cover
A solid introduction to writing powerful web applications using PHP 5.3
As one of the most popular open-source web-programming languages in use today, PHP is an ideal server-side scripting language that connects HTML-based web pages to a backend database for dynamic content. It allows you to create anything from a simple form-to-email script to a web forum application, a blogging platform, or a content management system. This guide introduces the PHP language and shows how to write powerful web applications using PHP.
Looks at the ways that PHP programs interact with web servers and other technologies such as HTML
Teaches you how to build robust web applications and change the flow of your scripts with decisions and loops
Examines ways to create and use strings, arrays, objects, functions, and files in your scripts
Shares tips for creating interactive web forms in PHP, as well as capturing user input
Unveils methods for preserving an application's state between page views
Offers advice on how to work with MySQL databases using PHP
Includes best practices for using PEAR to speed up your application development
Presents techniques for manipulating XML from within your PHP scripts
Walks you through the creation and manipulation of web graphics using PHP
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Wrox Beginning guides are crafted to make learning programming languages and technologies easier than you think, providing a structured, tutorial format that will guide you through all the techniques involved.
About the Author
Matt Doyle has worn many hats in his professional career, including working in the fields of system administration, computer training, software development, graphic design, and website creation.
Top Customer Reviews
I'm giving this book two scores with explanation:
4/5 - No programming experience outside HTML/css
It's hard to go wrong when writing any sort of how-to or introductory guide when your covering really basic stuff. There's some review of HTML, mostly in Chapter 9: Handling HTML forms with PHP, and a few non-PHP topics reviewed throughout, like directory structure, URL strings, and of course fundamental programming concepts such as loops and functions. The examples are useful and not verbose. In the end you will have a PHP/MySQL "book club" website which is functionally a user registration service. The reason I can't give it a 5 is because a few details were left unclear. For example, how php tags alternate with html tags is, I think, totally unintuitive and needs to be explained better. Also, some functions or concepts are introduced in the example code, not beforehand in the exposition and then later exemplified. I really dislike this pedagogy, because then you have to sift through examples to review and then chances are because it was used in an example it wasn't explained thoroughly. The XML chapter is like this.
3/5 - Programming experience
The chapters on images and XML should be elaborated, especially XML. It's too basic to be used as a reference. I started this book after taking a course in Java when my goal to was learn how to do PHP/MySQL ecommerce. Now trying to do things on my own, I find that the book didn't really prime me for reading the official PHP documentation. If you have programming experience you should skip this book, like I should have done. Maybe get one of those in a nutshell books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Having worked in technical education for many years, and more recently as a front-end web developer, I know how crucial it is for educators and web designers to have a good grasp of the workings of PHP. PHP is the most widely used programing language, developed from the ground up, to address the needs of the web browsing consumer.
Back in November 2009 while looking at new arrivals in the technology section at a local bookstore, I came across what I consider now, the ideal book on the subject of PHP. Beginning PHP 5.3 by Matt Doyle "speaks" directly to my urgent need to understand what PHP is all about. This textbook "magically" (to borrow a term used recently by Steve Jobs) has clarified my understanding of many concepts in PHP that for years I felt pretty fussy about!
In 800 pages, it does the best job I know on the PHP language basics, including an extensive treatment of PHP's advances in object-oriented programing. Even better, I now also have a chance with this book to be very much up to date on the newest features of PHP programming brought on by version 5.3. Advances like object overloading, abstract classes, interfaces, namespaces and XML parsers are treated by Matt Doyle in his characteristic down-to-earth style. What's more, he never forgets to illustrate further the various subjects treated in the book, with the most appropriate and simplest code examples available.
For schools with courses on programming, Beginning PHP 5.3 is, without a doubt, an excellent textbook. It even includes exercises at the end of every chapter, with the solutions at the end of the book.
As for me, I'm planning to donate my whole PHP book collection and just keep my copy of Beginning PHP 5.3 (together with its eBook version) for my own learning pleasure and ready reference.
First of all, there's a lot to like. Where the book is strong:
* The book is pretty comprehensive. And it takes you from the beginning using baby steps. You can come in not knowing beans about PHP and by the time you work your way through chapter 20 you will have covered a lot of ground.
* A fair number of the examples are kind of fun. Homing pigeons and "car objects", etc. As another reviewer wrote, if you take the time to actually do the "try it out" portions of the book, you will learn a lot. If nothing else, if you're not accustomed to having to put a semicolon at the end of every command line, you will discover how many times you'll forget to do that. Working through the examples will also serve as a way to learn the hard way that variable names ARE case sensitive and failure to repeat CamelCase variable names precisely will have you enjoying a nice debugging session.
* Doyle has put in review exercises for the reader to work through at the end of each chapter. I love this kind of thing because it give you a chance to apply the concepts and make sure you have them down pat. Plus he has an appendix with the solutions to all of the review exercises just in case you get stuck in the mud.
* I had already installed PHP & a web server emulator, so I didn't need that bit. But for the record, Doyle does cover how to install the software you'll need to run the examples. He covers (Ubuntu) Linux, Windows & Mac platforms.
* Inclusion of Chapter 20 - "Writing High-Quality Code". I've only skimmed it so far. But I like that Doyle takes the time to do this. I do development in VBA and so I am familiar with a lot of the fundamentals of writing good, solid code. But if I were relatively knew to coding in general, this chapter would be a nice primer.
Where the book could be stronger:
* E-mail contact forms. While the chapter on PHP & forms is good, building a solid contact form is one reason why a lot of people would look to learn PHP. It is why I was learning PHP. There is a chapter on this and there is a section on e-mailing via PHP. *BUT* IMO Doyle does not address a couple of major concerns that anyone building a contact form is going to have. First order of business, how to make sure spammers don't harvest your e-mail address. He does not really clarify whether or not the solution he presents will be robust against that threat. Second order of business, how to keep crackers (or is it hackers?) from hijacking the PHP script and turning your contact form into an e-mail re-mailer working for the cracker by injecting "headers". I had to go online and do further research to learn what Doyle left out.
* While he does point out various areas where threats exist (kudos for that) sometimes he doesn't explain why this is a threat. Example: on page 248 he states "With password fields, it's unwise to redisplay a user's password in the page because the password can easily be read by viewing HTML source." But this is in the context of a user keying in data into a form. If that's the case, against whose prying eyes are we protecting? Surely the person who typed in the password does not need to be blocked from seeing his own password should we be doing error handling. And I do not understand how someone else, not at the keyboard/screen is going to see another user's bounce-back.
* While Doyle does a nice job of explaining "objects" and the plethora of topics that go with them, I would have liked some practical examples. I am only halfway through the book. Perhaps in later chapters there are some examples of where implementing classes, inheritance and interfaces are used in a real setting? But in skimming the book I don't see them.
* I can't make up my mind about the PEAR stuff. My web host does not support it, so I have no reason to learn it. The example of creating e-mails with PHP uses PEAR which leaves me to have to "translate" the example into regular non-PEAR PHP & HTML. However, if I were going to use PEAR I'm sure I'd think the example was just dandy. I would have liked it if Doyle would have included a non-PEAR version of the example.
Overall, I would recommend the book. I do feel like I got my money's worth. But if Mr. Doyle should write another edition of this book, hopefully he will shore up the areas I listed above.
Highly Recommended For Newbies and Pro's alike.
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