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on September 5, 2002
This book has great content, but the title is too broad for the subject matter.
When I first saw the title of the book, I was excited because I thought it was going to cover PHP web development. Instead, the book explains certain subjects within development, not all "web" development per se either. Talking about proper coding techniques is nice, but not what one would expect based on the title.
I was hoping for coverage on HTTP variables and how to extract data from them when using Form tags. Especially, SELECT tags with multiple selections allowed. Unfortunately, the authors chose to talk about how it works behind the scenes. This is nice to know, but as a developer, I thought the book would have covered more on "development"!
There is some good information on security and on array processing. Its written so the reader can get a good understanding on how web processing is done, problems to avoid, and how to use PHP in a very professional manner. I wouldn't recommend this as a reference book, but as a good book to read for any intermediate or advanced PHP web developer. It could enhance your current skills and coding practices.
As for me, I was hoping for a PHP web development book that provided aspects on using php to build various common web applications, like shopping carts, and how/when to extract HTTP globals, session variables, logins, menus, form tags, etc. This is what I was expecting when I saw the title. While I was dispointed that it didn't cover this material, the book did provide some useful information in certain areas.
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on January 2, 2001
When I say 4 stars, read 4.5 stars.
The authors are well known and respected in the PHP community. Much good info here. Let me say this: A Web Developer in the US, making $75,000/year, makes $35 per hour. I think it's a sure thing that you can read this book and save yourself at least a hour's work on your next project, so it is a good investment in that regard.
I only found 1 actual error: In the PHP Normal Form example in chapter 5, the function is_numeric() already belongs to PHP. I don't know how the authors didn't catch this before publication, but it's not a big deal. Simply renaming the function fixes this error.
Excellent book overall.
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on August 3, 2000
I think the authors totally miss the mark as far as their audience. Studies have shown that most web developers have taught themselves and do not have a computer science background.
This book, however, assumes you have that background, and so doesn't explain such concepts that are pervasive throughout the book. Furthermore, for being about PHP4, it doesn't use a lot of its most convenient, new features.
For instance, you can now use a Perl-style "foreach" to loop through all elements of an array....instead though, the authors insist on always using C-style for loops. These type of loops still work, and were the only type available in PHP3, but the authors don't seem to have been able to adapt to this but instead fell back on their old computer scientist habits.
This might also be evidence of this being a "rush job". It certainly seems to have been edited poorly, perhaps in an effort to rush to market to be one of the first PHP books. For instance, in chapter 2, it is mentioned on THREE seperate pages, that PHP lacks garbage collection. It seems that a lot of "boilerplate" text was not removed before going to production.
The book, however, is quite blunt about features of PHP4 that it feels don't measure up (such as objects), and I am impressed by the authors' honesty on this point.
In my opinion this book still leaves a gap as far as an intermediate book on PHP 4....perhaps the upcoming "Bible" will be the answer.
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on August 12, 2000
I've been a professional programmer for 10 years now (client/server applications), but I haven't made the move to WEB programming yet. Some colleagues pointed me to PHP for web development and I immediately fell in love with it (coming from C/C++). Still, many basic concepts of web development were completely hidden for me and while I had no problems to learn PHP's syntax quickly, I didn't quite understand all the meanings of sessions, XML, web security, and so on. Then I found this book and I was ENLIGHTED.Do I hate all those fluffy computers books with no meaningful content but lots of source and function references! In contrast, the authors of this book write in a very straight-forward way, precisely, and still entertaining. And they cover many concepts behind web development, focusing on the implementation with PHP. It may be a lucky coincidence, but the authors wrote exactly about the things that interest me as I'm starting professional web development with PHP. The only chapter I didn't really need was the one about coding conventions because experience has already taught me to comment and format my code. Everything else I can put into practice immediately. I've found particularly helpful the tips&tricks the authors provided; they're clearly taken from their own real life experience and have saved me hours of finding my own solutions to strange problems.Therefore, this book was great for me and I'd warmly recommend it to others. This one is going to stay on my desk for a while! :-)
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on August 6, 2000
Most definitely, this book is not for beginners - but if you're an intermediate to advanced programmers, either with experience in PHP or another programming language, you'll want this book. The best aspect of this book, and the reason I think it has the potential to become a true classical for the PHP language, is that it covers the concepts behind web application development. After all, you have the online reference if you need to quickly check the syntax of a function! But where's the manual that teaches you about coding style, project layout and management, security, usability, session management, user authentication and advanced XML topics?
The authors write about development concepts, PHP's advanced syntax, application design, web application concepts and strategies, the Phplib, XML applications, and extending PHP with C. While presenting a lot of extremely valuable information in a condensed format (for example, most longer code examples are not printed in the book but can be found only on the CDROM), the authors still write in an easy and friendly manner. You always see that they really know the PHP language, and that they love working with PHP - indeed, both are well respected in the community. The quotes from the Dao De Jing (or Tao Te Ching) really add atmosphere to the book and bring up the level of Perl's Camel book. A definitive thumbs-up for this excellent title!
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on July 26, 2000
This was an excellent book. There is a wealth of information here for anyone who is trying to develop enterprise level web applications.
The book definitely is geared towards PHP4 and the Zend engine, but there is information on how some of the techniques and code can be applied to PHP3. The writing style was easy. The technical discussions were thorough and the topics were covered in a logical order.
This book is definitely for the advanced or serious developer. There is a lot information on software development practices, designing applications and advanced PHP coding techniques. If you do any serious development with PHP and especially if you're looking to utilize version 4.0, this is definitely a book for your technical library.
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on August 9, 2000
When ordering this book, I expected it to contain one of the two things: a PHP language reference with examples, or a discussion of problems in web application development with an explanation of PHP approach to their solutions. Instead, I received a book that should have been titled "A few cool programming tricks with PHP". The biggest problem of the book is trying to cover too many general web- and programming-related concepts and failing to cover any of them in sufficient detail. As a result, advanced readers will get little beyond a few cool tips, and intermediate and beginning readers may not get enough information to actually use the concept. It seems like the authors picked several topics that they liked, and showed some neat tricks, without much regard for comprehensiveness or completeness.
Chapter 1, "Development concepts", has nothing to do with PHP, and adds little value. The topic is much better covered by "Code complete" by McConnell and "The practice of programming" by Kernigan and Pike.
Chapter 2, "Advanced syntax", touches on several small aspects of PHP syntax, and several selected data structures (linked lists and assosiative arrays). Since PHP does not present any difficulties in expressing these data structures compared to other programming languages, I didn't understand why those data structures were chosen here. The chapter also has an interesting example of self-modifying code (actually, dynamic code evaluation at run-time, which is not an unexpected feature for an interpreted language), and then warns "The technique used here ... should never be used like this in production scripts."
Chapter 3, "Application Design: A real-life example" presents a PHP-based IRC char server. Although authors show several interesting programming tricks, this is not a type of application one would consider "typical" for PHP. Interesting, but hardly useful.
Chapter 4, "Web application concepts", condenses together HTTP and sessions, secutiry, and usability in about 45 pages. Chapter 5, "Basic web application strategies", touches on "PHP normal form" (basic layout of a PHP script), project layout, CVS, and three-tiered applications. Again, if you are not familiar with the concepts, you risk not grasping the discussion.
Chapter 6, "Database access with PHP", covers PHPLib (I would expect a chapter on different database drivers avaiable for PHP). The chapter describes database abstraction and authentication used in PHPLib, but offers little practical advice. Read PHPlib online documentation instead.
Chapter 7, "Cutting-edge applications", offers some advice on parsing XML and using WDDX.
Chapter 8, "Case studies", offers a look at several commercial high-traffic sites that utilize PHP. The jist of all case studies is "we used it and it worked", although they include statements that will raise some eyebrows. BizChek.com case study says that PHP was selected over mod_perl because "BizChek developers felt that [mod_perl] might be lacking in dealing with high-volume Web applications". And MarketPlayer.com chose PHP because "most of the company was comfortable using WYSIWYG applications for Web development". I never thought of PHP as a "WYSIWYG" application.
Chapter 9, "Hacking the PHP core" is only truly useful for people who intend to contribute to PHP development, and I flipped through it very quickly.
Overall, the book is a good and entertaining reading written on a high professional level, but it definitely is not a reference nor a textbook. If you are already familiar with the concepts discussed in the book, you will find little new information. And if the concepts are new to you, you may be better off learning them elsewhere.
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on December 28, 2000
I have many years experience programming and have been doing PHP for awhile. This book has lots of philosophy and not many concrete examples of advanced PHP technique.
The section on objects is especially poor. It reads as if the authors don't understand OOP and the examples are extremely poor. (I have over ten years OOP analysis, design, and programming in numerous OO languages, so, I should know)
I found myself wasting a lot of time playing with sample code that didn't work, was poorly written, and certainly didn't illustrate what was being discussed.
The book is so poor, I wonder if those who wrote the good reviews actually read and used the book or just looked through it.
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on August 10, 2001
I am a beginner and this book is way too advanced for me. This book is for those who already know everything about PHP but need a way to apply it in a Professional Application. It explains how to plan, implement and launch a project on a commercial level as a true professional.
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on January 2, 2002
A good book overall for getting up and running with PHP. It is technical, so keep that in mind if you are adequate in HTML and want more. There are beginner's books for PHP that might be a better start. For a book that states PHP 4.0 in the title, there is TOO much conversation about PHP 3.0, what you can and can't do with it, its shortcomings, etc. If I wanted to know about PHP 3.0 I would have bought the book, "Web Application Development with PHP 3.0." For example, I really don't care that PHP 3.0 does not implement proper garbage collection. So what!
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