Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP and MySQL Paperback – Oct 11 2004
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About the Author
Kevin Yank is a world-renowned leader in web development. When not writing best sellers, Kevin is the Technical Director of sitepoint.com and editor of the popular SitePoint Tech Times newsletter.
Top Customer Reviews
The author does a good job of maintaining focus throughout. He walks that fine line between giving out too much information and overwhelming the reader and not enough information which would leave the reader confused. He also tends to ensure the reader understands what the code is doing at a core level, it' not just about syntax. Once you've completed the book you'll have just enough understanding of programming ideals to help you better understand what PHP is about.
When it comes to syntax it's a pretty good reference as well covering most of the key concepts. The reason I didn't give it 5 stars is the last few chapters seem to lack the focus the first 8 or so chapters have. It's as though these chapters are meant as catch alls, a place to put all the ideas the author had but couldn't find how to integrate it into the earlier narrative.
The book also has a great companion website at sitepoint.com with very active forums full or helpful PHP veterans that are only too happy to help with any question. Overall I've been very happy with this book and have bought more books from this publisher (sitepoint) on other topics based on the experience I had with this book.
Tip: to skip the part about installing PHP and MySQL download the Xampp service, you'll be glad you did. (just google xampp)
I strongly recommend this title.
I would have expected Kevin to have at least checked his code before publising. All in all quite a useless book, specially for a beginner. Not worth 1 star but Amazon doesn't allw 0 stars.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Very first thing you should know about this book is that it's incredibly thin and small- about the size of your printer's manual, if you have one of those. So small in fact, I wasn't sure it was the book when I first received it (thought it was a booklet that came with the book). The 230 page count doesn't do this book's minute size justice.
The book is written completely in a top-bottom, tutorial fashion. It builds on a single example for the most part, first telling you how to view and define your database, then slowly populate and manipulate the tables inside. Such a style means that it's hard to get left behind, even if you're the absolute beginner and non-geek. Bottom line, I did learn how to create a database and add to it dummy values using PHP through this book. If that's your stumbling block- the absolute first step- this book will help you overcome it. The book's top-bottom/single example style is its allure, though ultimately, its fatal flaw too.
Now to elaborate on the reasons why "Build your own database driven site (php/mysql)" isn't all that great, and not worth the $[money]:
1) From the get-go, you can obviously tell it wasn't put together in a professional setting- lots of spelling mistakes, unprofessional font (for the example codes). "Not a big deal" I told myself as I worked my way through. However, I quickly realized the book doesn't even contain an INDEX at the end! Having read the book once already, it became a nightmare to try and quickly brush up on a particular syntax without wasting tons of time flipping through pages. I end up just going to [the website] often and looking up the syntax directly. This means the book is useful only for the first read, 2nd at most. As another irritating side note, the book is so small, I can't even get it to open up without having to press my fingers between the two covers to keep it open at all times. Otherwise, it'll just fold back up.
2) The book is truly for absolute beginners, and not just in its writing style, but amount of information contained inside as well. Having just read another beginner's book on mysql, I gradually realized just how much essential (not advanced, essential) information on mysql syntax was left out of it, info that's invaluable when you're just creating your first database. Syntax like variations of the various commands that make it so much easier to insert and modify tables, how to populate data via a text file etc, were all not included. And for the info that was there, as mentioned above, since there is no index, they're hard to look up.
3) This book is priced at $35. I guess the author thought he could get away with it, since there are currently no other php/mysql books written in such a tutorial and gentle style. Perhaps, though is that justification to price it at the highest price level of similar books, and for one that's 1/3 the size and amount of info as the rest? The amount of editing done is also significantly less than most other books (lack of index, spelling mistakes etc). I feel like being in the mix of a price fix here. The moment I saw the size of the book and to the end, I couldn't help but feel cheated, even though the info contained inside is good.
Bottom line, as mentioned above, if your stumbling block at this point is the absolute first step in creating mysql databases and using php to interact with it, this book is worth getting, though not "worth it" any way you look at it.
Do I have another suggestion then? Buy a couple of other beginner books on the subject first, and if you still don't get it, come to this one (buy used if possible). You're feel a lot more comfortable with your decision then, as it was your last resort anyway.
There are some very good parts, however. The chapter that introduces relational databases is very well done.
I recommend O'Reilly's Learning PHP 5 as an alternative to this book.
Yank does a fine job covering a little of everything without overpowering the reader with too much. Anyone who has experimented with Perl, PHP, ASP.NET, MySQl, Access, some of them or all of them will like the book. Those who can write PHP and MySQL with little help need to find a more advanced book (don't have suggestions, but I am sure others do).
I rarely ran into problems while following the examples. I've worked with other technical books and hit a brick wall at times requiring a call for help or serious research. While working with this book, I only got stuck once and immediately figured out the problem with a little research.
Yank uses visual aids and avoids jargon when explaining the process of laying out the database tables. A reviewer commented that Yank missed important concepts regarding databases. This book is not meant to go into such details. There are other books for that.
This book is well-rounded in covering all the necessary components of building a Web site using a database. While adding data, viewing tables, and querying the database, you're learning tasks that will come in handy for future projects.
Not only do you get instructions for PHP and MySQL, but also advice on structuring code so that it's used effectively.
If you've never installed Apache, PHP, or MySQL or can't recall how to do it, the steps for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X are in the first chapter. Since the latest edition covers PHP 5, the author addresses the differences in PHP 4.3. When working on the first PHP script, there is no "Hello World!" for a change.
The early chapters provide a good overview of PHP and MySQL. By Chapter 4, the contents of the earlier chapters are integrated as the backend database connects to the Web page with PHP. The next chapters show how to use forms to manage, add, delete, edit, and search data. By midpoint, the reader has designed a database, organized it, created Web pages for the data, added administration pages, and administered the database. Yank also explains how to generate cookies and build a simple shopping cart.
The appendices include MySQL syntax, functions, column types, and PHP functions to use with MySQL. The book has an accompanying Web site that includes errata and four free sample chapters. Having edited a few tech books, I know how easy it is to miss things when you're working on different computer set ups and application versions. Check the site especially since it has the code from the book. When running into problems, compare your code to the code from the site.
One chapter has a challenge along with the solution (a couple of pages later, so you're not tempted to peek). Having a challenge like this in most chapters, I believe, would help cement the learning. Overall, it will make the purchaser happy.
The four free sample chapters give you a good idea of what the book is about and its style <[...]>.
Is this book for you? Consider that for the price, you get a basic introduction to a broad number of topics: 1) PHP installation, 2) MySQL installation, 3) relational database design, 4) using server-side programming to reduce client-side coding, 5) database administration, 6) writing effective SQL queries, 7) structured programming techniques, such as using includes, and 8) implementing cookies and sessions. If you are already comfortable with at least half of the topics in this list, then you are probably ready to graduate to a more in-depth book than this one. If much of this sounds new to you, then you will find Yank's book an excellent introduction. Yank writes as if he was a friendly tour guide, at each step of the way walking you through what he has done and why he chose to do it that way. Because the style is so conversational, it's easy to go back and re-read a chapter, which many readers might find themselves doing.
While the cover of the 3rd Edition (February 2005 update) goes at length to point out that the book covers PHP5, there is negligible content that goes beyond PHP4.x. None of the coding, and none of the author's discussions on effective programming techniques, addresses OO programming at all, let alone how it's implemented in PHP5. This is not necessarily a negative aspect of the book since, again, it's essentially an introduction. Just don't let the packaging fool you into thinking you're getting more than you actually are.
For me, the primary value of a book like this is in the initial chapter, where it provides all of the necessary steps for installing PHP and MySQL in one place. While the online documentation for both technologies is excellent, I have found that it can be confusing to switch back and forth between the two sites to get your own set-up installed and configured. If you're like me and must add Apache installation to the process, it only compounds the problem. Yank provides clear instructions for Windows and Linux users, with a nod to Mac X users, on installation and post-installation tasks.
Mainly for this information, this book is an excellent way to get started with server-side technology, but it is not at all suitable for production purposes. As with any server or server-side technology, security is a major and much-debated topic of concern with PHP and MySQL. Yank does address some of the basic methods of protecting a MySQL server from attacks, including how to password-protect the root user account and how to grant only necessary access to new users. I'm sure many PHP programmers will argue with Yank's recommendation that PHP's "Magic Quotes" feature be left On, since turning it Off "exposes you to hackers attempting SQL injection attacks on your Website if you are not very careful to write scripts that protect themselves from such malicious behavior" (p. 24). Mind you, he is simply quoting the recommendation at php.net, since the On setting is recommended for beginners, but it points out why this book is not suitable for production-ready applications. Yank does provide abundant footnotes for the reader to find more detailed information, including the online documentation at [...] and [...]
Yank very often invites the reader to consult the forums at [...] for further information and advice. Do not construe this as a mere marketing ploy. The SitePoint forums are indeed an excellent resource, with an active and often well-experienced audience.
All of the code listed in the book is available as a download from [...]. Simply provide your e-mail address, then you will be prompted with a question that you can answer only if you have the book in front of you.
As complete novice to mySQL and PHP, I was looking for some help and there it was - a book, that takes you step-by-step of setting your system, database, PHP and tells you how to build a db-driven site from scratch in no time (O.K. you'd need to read the book first), gives an advice and shares some developer's secrets. If you wonder how things are working behind the scenes of back-end programming this book is for you.
I am not sure if PHP-mySQL Wiz would need the book but I found it absolutely essential.
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