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on May 7, 2003
* Note: I refer here to both the first and second edition *
This is the book I purchased to get started on server-side scripting; it probably says "user-level intermediate-advanced" to avoid lawsuits; I had no prior knowledge of server-side programming, and no trouble understanding.
It is divided in four logical parts:
(1) PHP tutorial
(2) MySQL tutorial
(3) General discussion on server-side scripting & e-commerce (very interesting)
(4) Projects
This book does an excellent job at explaining PHP & MySQL to the beginner, and goes much beyond the frustrating "intermediate" level where similar books often stop. It assumes a working knowledge of HTML, which everyone interested in this book already has in all likelihood.
It is cleverly written, clear and concise. The authors share their extensive experience with the reader, notably in the third part where common pitfalls are discussed.
The index is well done, which makes this book an excellent desktop reference in addition to being a good tutorial.
The CD contains all the code for the examples, the complete book in searchable PDF, and other goodies like the Apache Server and PHP.
My recommendation: go to and download PHPTriad to install & configure Apache/PHP/MySQL on your PC, or have someone knowledgeable do it manually for you to avoid headaches.
The only reason I can't give five stars to the first or second edition is the number of mistakes/typos in the code examples. The upload code doesn't work, PDF generation uses obsolete functions even in the second edition, etc.
Although most of the code supplied as example functions properly, it is annoying to know that a book written to teach you to program contains errors in the programming examples.
The second edition adds a chapter about XML and removes outdated URLs. Otherwise, it is the same book (including code typos).
Combined with the PHP & MySQL manuals available for download from their respective sites, allow a week or two of reading and you should have everything needed to start working.
All things considered, I strongly recommend this book.
PS: if your heart balances between ASP & PHP for server-side, consider that more servers are PHP-enabled, since it is cheaper (free).
If you want to stay in known terrain and use JScript, than go for ASP.
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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 July 14, 2001
This is such a good book that I wanted to take the time to write a review and give it 5 stars, which it richly deserves. The other glowing reviews helped me to choose this book over others, and they were right on the money.
I'm an experienced C/C++ programmer on Windows, but I knew nothing about PHP and MySQL -- and very little about Apache and Unix -- prior to opening this book. I've now read about 80% of it and, in the process, I've built a commercial-grade Website with user registration and shopping cart facilities, which was my objective. Reading this book was a very efficient use of my time -- it gave me exactly what I needed to build a practical Web application system with PHP and MySQL, and very little extraneous stuff.
The main prerequisite for this book is a working knowledge of HTML, and just a little background in procedural programming. Some of the earliest examples use HTML tags for tables and forms, with PHP use thoroughly explained, but without many notes on the HTML. A beginning programmer can learn effectively from this book, but as an experienced programmer I felt that it also worked well to bring me up to speed quickly on a new language.
Another value of this book not mentioned in other reviews are the many good recommendations for organizing your PHP code (applying basic software engineering principles) as your Web application gets larger and more complex. Many, many Websites have been built haphazardly and are now difficult to maintain because they haven't followed the excellent advice in this book.
I did notice the typos mentioned by other reviewers, but after reading 80% of this (867-page) book I feel they are very minor and really do not detract from the book significantly at all.
All in all, this is one of those rare books that is probably worth ten times the amount that you pay for it, and much more if you use it effectively.
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on June 4, 2002
If you have absolutely no experience with PHP and want to jump into the the world of web development and potentially extend your skills to create real-world web applications, then PHP and this book are for you.
The book gives you a little of both world: PHP and MySQL. Teaching you the most popular functions of both PHP and MySQL, you should be able to write your own simple MySQL-driven PHP powered website or application in no time.
The book also dwell into simple real-world web applications written in PHP which you can build upon as you learn. These apps include: a web mail based service, a mailing list generator, a web forum, a content managing system and even a shopping cart system! All source and even the entire book is included within the accompanying CD-ROM disc.
This book alone is more than enough to get you started with PHP and MySQL programming. Of course, if you want to master or fine tune your skills in this field, I would suggest you continue your reading with: "PHP Functions", "Web Application Development with PHP 4.0", and "MySQL"; all published by New Rider.
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on May 18, 2003
This is an excellent book! It took me from a complete novice (the last programming experience I had was with structured BASIC back in the 8th grade, over 15 years ago) to developing complex, secure, database-enabled sites. I couldn't have done it without this book. The sample projects are excellent. I owe all my PHP/MySQL success to the authors of this book.
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on May 11, 2003
Since 1997, I have been developing dynamic Open Source-based web sites for my clients and myself. I have settled on two solutions: Zope sites using its incorporated ZODB -- for which I suggest the Zope Bible -- and PHP/MySQL sites, for which I recommend this one-stop solution, PHP and MySQL Web Development, Second Edition. I had the first edition, and that was my bible until this edition came out recently. If you need one book, and your solution for creating powerful web applications is PHP/MySQL, then this is the book for you. I am the president and lead developer for zdev Corporation. We at zdev develop Content Management Solutions using Open Source solutions. Half the solutions are Zope-based, including Plone; otherwise, our solutions are most often Nuke-based -- namely Post Nuke and phpWebsite -- which are PHP/MySQL solutions.
Although amazingly powerful, PHP has been attacked as being an insecure solution. This presumption is based on many things that have been fixed and blocked in the evolution of PHP; but there is always coder-error and this fine resources focuses almost exclusively on helping the coder take what started out as Personal Home Page (PHP) which was the main solution for script kiddies and 14-year-old freaks and geeks to what it has become and what it can be:
The finest and most flexible solution for any and all commercial and e-commerce solutions.
In accomplishing this, this book focuses on becoming a careful, ever-vigilant, coder of PHP. This education includes many remedial courses in dealing with having a database-backed website on the Internet, which has nothing to do with PHP or MySQL. In my humble opinion, the reputation that PHP has as an insecure solution is based on it being a perfect "teaching language" and as such, many newbies and neophytes are empowered to deploy some powerful solutions without being first formally informed in the issues of data integrity and online-security.
As our coder-base matures -- along with the language(s) -- we will see that the problems had nothing to do with the power and elegance of the code, but rather with the newness, freedom, accessibility, and immaturity of many of our colleagues, the coders ourselves.
In much the same way the Ben Forta book on Cold Fusion years ago legitimized Cold Fusion as THE solution for the web -- towards the Enterprise level -- Luke Welling and Laura Thomson's book, PHP and MySQL Web Development is on its way towards bringing PHP and MySQL the kind of attention and legitimacy it deserves.
Every day I see more and more Corporate-level and Enterprise-level solutions on the web and am oftentimes blown away by its ubiquity on the web. The next time you are on a site you love, check out the file-types of the pages you are visiting. If you see .php anywhere in the URL, you have discovered yet another PHP site!
I recommend you buy this book. It will be the only one you'll need.
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on September 26, 2003
I actaully really like this book. It is easy to read and gives some pretty good coding examples. There are also so many coding errors that you dive right in and start learning how to debug code. I like learning this way. I am almost done reading it and have run into a roadblock. There is a section of code in the book that does not work (well this section in particular - there are tons of code examples that don't work) and I cannot figure out why. Great - no problem - I will just go take a look-see at the errata and that should get me going again. NOT. There is no errata. What the blueberries is up with that!
Another thing that irked me about this book is the fact that the writer did not bother to tell you everything you should compile into PHP in the appendix. Instead you set it up as per the appendix and start reading. Then find out you need to reconfigure to add support for something. Reconfigure, recompile, retest - ok start reading again. Doh! Have to reconfigure again to add support for something else. Blah Blah - this happens about 4-5 times. Great.
Arggggg - OK - I have a headache from reading this book. I would not recommend it unless they come up with an errata or a third edition with fixed code and the correct install instructions for PHP.
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on February 11, 2002
PHP and MySQL are probably the most pervasive add-ons to Apache web servers across the web. Certainly they are both easy to acquire and common on a large range of web hosting systems, including several extremely low cost ones. They also fit together extremely well.
This book demonstrates how well. It starts out with a quick course in PHP (OK, 160 pages is hardly quick but it seems to move along at a good pace), follows it up with a brief look at MySQL before a short digression on E-commerce leads into building authentication and secure systems with the two tools (a marvellous place to start when you're thinking about commercial-grade web systems.)
After some more advanced PHP the book then goes on to give marvellous examples of web applications, a shopping cart, content management system, email service, mailing list manager and web forums. Finally it has a good chapter on generating PDF files using PHP.
Overall the book is well written, well structured and can take someone with some programming knowledge and no experience with PHP and MySQL all the way to the development of full scale database backed web applications.
That's not to say that the book doesn't have some shortcomings. You will want to have some program design experience and preferably some experience with database design as these are given short shrift. The book also lacks examples and discussion of some of the less database intensive parts of PHP and some of the more obscure taks you may need to perform. However it does provide an excellent introduction to these two products for someone, like myself, who already has some experience. It must also be added that there are some typographical errors in some of the code examples, not too many and not too serious but in this day and age why can't authors cut and paste from running and debugged code, Kernighan and Plauger managed it more than twenty years ago in "Software Tools."
I would recommend purchasing this book and "PHP Developer's Cookbook" for the perfect PHP bookshelf. If you wish a fuller understanding of MySQL and database design then add "MySQL" by Paul DuBois and Michael Widenius.
I rate it as four stars rather than five, only because it is not perfect and so many others have given it five.
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on April 27, 2004
Overall this is a fine, if physically weighty, introduction to PHP. It will take a developer who understands web application flow reasonably well from knowing nothing about PHP to understanding how to build complex web sites.
The first 150 pages or so are on the syntax of PHP. The last 20 of those are on Object Oriented PHP (version 4), and about 10 of those are on the basics of OO programming. So I wouldn't try and learn OO PHP from this book (see Advanced PHP Programming for that.)
Section two, on database programming, starts with an introduction to the basics of database design, moves onto the mechanics of MySQL and it's interaction with PHP. It finishes with a very brief section on PEAR. This is the part that caused me to give the book only three stars. First, the database access uses string concatenation, which is error prone and insecure. Even worse, the section on PEAR, which supports the '?' operator in SQL statements, fails to mention that feature or it's advantages. Since most PHP programming is about putting a face on a database, teaching how to do databases the right way is extremely important. For a lesson in how to do database access in PHP right see another SAMS PHP book; Advanced PHP Programming.
Up to chapter twenty-four the book progresses by talking about each technology (e.g. authentication, date manipulation, regular expressions, etc.) as a sort of stove pipe. The chapters are generally short, and are well written and consistent. Graphics are used sparingly, which is appreciated.
With chapter twenty-four and beyond the author presents common tasks (e.g. login pages, shopping carts, etc.) with example applications. This is an effective technique as most of these problems involve bringing together several PHP technologies and understanding how to use them as a whole.
Overall I liked this book. I did take exception to the SQL problems in section two and I marked my review down because database access is so important to PHP web development. WIth the caveat that the reader should look elsewhere for advice on proper PHP database development I would recommend this book to anyone with some web experience who wants to develop dynamic sites with PHP.
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on June 7, 2004
I bought this a few months back and I found it useful getting started with PHP and MySQL. The problem, though, is that it doesn't go far enough: the material on PDF doesn't actually show you how to write a report from a database or get anything installed, there's almost nothing on advanced MySQL, and just 10 pages on OO programming. I also found the code hard to get going and a bit buggy. The 2nd edition seems to not really have moved with the pace of the area and it left me unsatisfied. In the end, I went in search of another book.
Williams and Lane's new 2nd edition of "Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL" (O'Reilly, 2004) has done it for me. It weighs in at almost 800 pages, a few hundred more than its 1st edition, and it looks like an almost complete rewrite. It covers PDF reporting in depth, installation on Windows and Mac OS X, and has chapters towards the end on PEAR, advanced MySQL, and PHP55 OO features. By the time I bought it, I guess wasn't really a newbie, but I still think it is gentle enough if you're still getting the basics (the first 200 pages or so introduce PHP and MySQL). It's a pretty awesome book, and shows again why O'Reilly are a safe bet (though perhaps it's wise to wait for the 2nd editions, judging by the bugs in the 1st edition of this one).
I reckon both books are worth the money, but if you just want one, then O'Reilly's new book is better.
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