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on March 19, 2003
Web Database Applications by H.E. Williams and D. Lane is a truly wonderful book if you are looking to learn how to get an online database application up and running fast. The book eases you into PHP with a decent length chapter on the basic syntax of the language, followed by an introduction of MySQL.
After that, each chapter will teach you new techniques which are instantly applicable to a real-world online database system. Among others this book will teach you how to: write scripts that interact with MySQL, deal with security issues, handle sessions, handle shopping carts and lots lots more.
The book was written before the introduction of PHP 4.2, so certain 4.2 (and up) specific issues are not covered. However, most of the examples in the book have been re-written for use with 4.2 and can be downloaded freely. On top of this the authors supply a level of support that is all but unheard of. Every question that I asked was answered within 1 day if not within the same day.
All in all this book is at the top of it's league, I can highly recommend it!
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on September 26, 2003
Like others I've found this text an absolute corker for getting started with on-line databases.
However, after struggling with one of the examples for several hours I was disappointed to finally realise that the code was woefully short.
Just in case, I thought, I'll check the book's web site for errata, and found several pages of it! Some of which contains errors, like wrong page number!!!!!
I don't know about you but I find it hard to learn new stuff when the examples don't work.
Well I finally got the code to work and I've submitted it to the publishers. But, whilst I'm quite an experienced developer, I've only been looking at PHP, MySQl & Java for a couple of weeks and presumably it takes longer to write a book.
So how come the readers are fixing the authors code?
Maybe I should write a book ...
Was going to give 4* but because of the errors went down to 3.
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on February 25, 2003
I am a well versed programmer who has read many programming books by many different authors. If you are a person who learns by visual do not get this book. Here are some of the pitfalls of this book.
1. They throw globs of code at you and do not explain what any of it is doing. You have to figure it out for yourself.
2. This book is not a step by step book for beginners, you will get lost.
3. The name and the reviews fooled me. This book is not for the beginner who would like to advance into the subject of creating Dynamic web sites.
If anyone knows of a good book on the subject of creating dynamic web sites using php, and that is very visual and in a step by step format please let me know.
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on October 1, 2003
As the title indicates, this book is all about building websites powered by database applications. The book uses PHP and MySQL for a scripting language and a database technology respectively. Familiarity with programming and computers is assumed but other than that, not much else is assumed. The authors do an excellent job of explaining some of the fundamental concepts underlying database driven websites. All this is done in simple terms without too much jargon. To top it all off, a tutorial style approach is taken to illustrate how all these concepts come together. The tutorial is on building an online retail site that sells wines. The sample code used in the book can be downloaded from the publisher's website.
PHP is a powerful language that is open source and that can be used in lieu of Java and .NET technologies for many web applications that aren't too complex. For most small business owners, this should suffice. I am not too sure about using it in large corporations. This is one of the most popular open source technology along with Linux and MySQL.
MySQL is an open source database that can be used instead of SQL Server, Access, or Oracle. Once again, when the database application gets complex, I am not confident of its ability to handle the complexity. This is also excellent for small businesses but not large corporations.
There are about 13 chapters and 5 appendices spanning 550 pages starting with an introduction to database applications and the web, continuing with an intro to PHP and MySQL, covering the main concepts behind web technologies and ending with the sample wine store application. The main concepts discussed are querying databases, writing to databases, validations on the server and client, session management, user authentication and security. The appendices handle installation, modeling and designing relational databases, managing sessions in the database tier, etc.
Overall, the selection of topics is perfect for Intermediate programmers and the explanations are very detailed yet simple. This is probably one of the reasons this book is so popular. I have thoroughly enjoyed using this book and I am not surprised to see such a high quality book from this publisher. I am not familiar with the authors but I am going to keep an eye open in the future for other books by them.
I felt it was a bit pricey for a book of this nature but this is the only one I could find that covered these specific topics so I am not going to complain. Enjoy creating your own database driven website!
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on July 6, 2004
Serving up dynamic content with scripting applications is all the rage now in the website development world. These scripting applications can provide customized information pages, shopping carts and content-management systems, and user-influenced web experiences. While "old-fashioned" static sites and pages still have their place, dynamic content sites are becoming more and more prevalent, primarily due to their obvious advantages, but also to their modest costs. The reason for these low costs is because the software applications are generally free, thanks to the open-source movement.
Apache is an open-source web server application widely used. The most prevalent and preferred scripting application is PHP; MySQL is the predominant database management program. These three drive the great increase in dynamic content web development. While essentially free, their installation, configuration, and use requires some technical and programming skills and knowledge, but small and medium-size database-driven web sites can be managed by those not expert in programming or database management.
While there is a lot of material available on the Internet about this software and database-driven sites, and a number of books available on these topics, none is as thorough and complete as "Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL", by Hugh E. Williams and David Lane. This volume is in its 2nd edition and is a 2004 publication of O'Reilly Media Inc. The book presents an overview of dynamic web sites using open-source software and relates the principles behind generating dynamic content with database applications. The focus is on PHP, the scripting language, and MySQL, the database management software.
As befits a couple of university-associated authors, the book reads much like a college textbook. The twenty chapters include an introduction to PHP, SQL (Structured Query Language), and my SQL, covering PHP v.5, the very latest version and MySQL 4.1. The PHP chapters describe the components of the language and its syntax, variables, conditions, loops, arrays, functions, types, and more. The SQL and mySQL chapters cover database basics, tables, queries, and functions. All this material is presented systemically and thoroughly.
The thrust of the earlier chapters is to prepare for the comprehensive web example of "Hugh and Dave's Online Wines" site. That site is constructed from the component materials covered individually in the prior chapters - how to manage customers, creating a shopping cart, dealing with orders and shipping, searching the inventory, and authentication of buyers. There is a lot to developing a medium-sized site like this, but everything one needs to know is described and explained as the book progresses.
Extra materials are included as well, including information on PEAR, which is the repository of PHP extensions - script additions which are additional functionings to PHP, or are pre-made containers of code to be used modularly with your existing code; an introduction to object-oriented programming in PHP 5; a chapter on error handling and reporting , including customized reporting; a chapter on the mixed usage of Javascript and PHP; and an important chapter on security of scripts and databases.
All this includes access to the code snips at a website maintained at O'Reilly for downloading.
For intermediate level developers, this is a worthwhile resource.
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on December 10, 2002
This is an EXCELLENT book for an intermediate programmer, likely the best PHP/MYSQL combo book out there. Intermediate programmers have programmed successfully before, but now want to write code and use techniques that are more fundamentally sound. This requires that someone share with them the various OPTIONS, explain their strengths and weaknesses, and then recommend a good way. That's what this book does (more often than not) on subjects ranging from sessions to MySQL locking to regular expressions.
This book provides an EDUCATION as opposed to mere instructional advice as to one way something can be done (without context).
From another angle, it has been my observation that the inability to understand a programming explanation in a book normally results from the author simply omitting one or two explicit references to minor elements in the causal link that comprises understanding. (think about that one a bit)
The authors of this book tend NOT to make this error in their explanations/tutorials which makes for easy, informative reading. They are much better educators than the average techie author.
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on November 4, 2002
I recently began a web database project and had to self-teach myself PHP and MySQL, therefore I bought several books from Amazon looking to cover the bases. I disagree with some other reviews posted here, the text IS AN INTRODUCTION but this is not obvious from the title or the editorial reviews on Amazon. The review referring to editing errors I COULD NOT AGREE WITH, I did not find "errors" or typos, maybe I'm not very observant or don't know the subject well enough yet.
Anyway ... the text does a good job at presenting the PHP language and how to operate on MySQL database back-ends, that is the purpose of the book. The sections on PHP are introductory, but well done. Comprehensive descriptions of string and reg-exp functions are provided. A good section for beginners is titled "Common Mistakes" that describe why you get a blank browser screen or what those darned header messages are about. The MySQL section is well done, providing ample samples of the different query types and advanced joins and keys. I also liked the portion that describes using PHP with other RDMS systems via ODBC and to Oracle. Linking PHP and MySQL is well handled and sections on authentication and session management are practical and real-world. The text ONLY includes one overall application system, a psuedo online winestore that includes a shopping cart and purchasing concept. The appendix include a really good treatise on HTTP and describing how Requests and Responses are handled and the status codes.
I had great expectations for this O'Reilly text as many of their critter-adorned texts are in my library. I expected the text to be more advanced than it is. The lack of other sample applications is a weakness, for the price you can get other texts with more comprehensive samples. Afterall, many of us buy these books to try and help us quickly solve "Our Immediate Problem", more samples would have helped this effort better.
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on August 13, 2002
If only I had purchased this book two months ago, I would have saved myself some headaches. The PHP/MySQL combination is both powerful and popular for creating dynamic, data-driven sites. But not many resources explain this combination so thoroughly. I have plenty of PHP books that touch on databases briefly and other resources that concentrate on MySQL, but don't delve into PHP. But this book fills the need of developers for a thorough and clear guide to using the PHP and MySQL combination.
I have primarily been using the book as a reference guide - browsing entries of interest via the index; however, someone needing an introduction to PHP/MySQL applications would be well served by starting at the beginning and reading straight through the book.
As I would expect from any competent development guide, example code and screenshots are sprinkled liberally throughout the chapters. Accompanying explanations are succinct and written to be understandable to novices and experts alike. This is a good book to pick up the moment you decide your site needs to be powered by PHP and MySQL. It will be useful from the moment you create a table to the day your first customer uses your homemade shopping cart application successfully.
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on October 14, 2002
I have just started learning some PHP & MySQL development using "PHP & MySQL Web Development" published by Sams and "Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQL" from O'Reilly. Prospective readers might be wondering the difference between the two in deciding which one to buy, so I hope to shed some light on the issue.
Sams: The Welling and Thomson book is more "hands-on" in that it takes the reader step-by-step in developing an e-commerce website. The chapters are organized in a goal-oriented manner: PHP, MySQL, the basics of e-commerce, security, and design of the site.
O'Reilly: The Williams and Lane book is structured in a similar way by showing readers PHP and then MySQL. Examples to reinforce concepts are also provided. While the O'Reilly book also tries to take the reader in developing an e-commerce site, it is a bit more theoretical. Also, there are some differences in focus: the O'Reilly book has a section on using JavaScript while the Sams book has a final chapter on creating PDF files using PHP.
If I had to choose just one book, I would go with the Sams book due to its more gentle learning curve. However, I believe that the O'Reilly book is no slouch, and I will probably come to appreciate it more once I gain more experience in PHP and MySQL development.
One last word about my programming background: I knew a bit of Perl, Java, HTML, and JavaScript before tackling PHP and MySQL. I consider myself to be an "advanced beginner" (an oxymoron, of course). To get the most out of these two books, you should know HTML well enough to read it (you should at least recognize some tags) and it would definitely be helpful if you have some programming experience. You could very well make PHP your first programming language, but I would advise against it. Start with something like Perl (whose syntax is very similar to PHP's).
I highly recommend both books to prospective PHP and MySQL developers who are willing to spend some time and effort.
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on May 7, 2002
For anyone first learning how to write database-backed Web applications, this is an excellent introductory self-contained text. The selection and organisation of topics, style of presentation, emphasis and writing are all excellent. The main topic lacking from its online shopping example is the issue of online payment, and hopefully this will be included in a second edition. Despite being an introduction the text goes far enough to allow readers to implement serious applications.
It would make a very suitable text for an undergraduate course, though, as it lacks exercises, instructors need to invent their own application development assignments. Also, for a class inexperienced in data modelling, it would be useful to supplement the text with a wider range of examples, such as those in Wellings and Thomson, PHP and MySQL Web Development (SAMS, 2001). One reviewer here criticised the text for not going far enough, but this is unfair as it's only intended as an introduction; experienced developers would certainly need to access more advanced material. This does not detract from the value of this text to its intended readers.
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