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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on December 4, 2001
I bought "Beginning PHP4" first, expecting to learn more later from "Professional PHP". Unfortunately, the "Professional" book was written in 1999 and mostly covers PHP3; the first half of this book is introductory material similar to that covered in "Beginning". The "Beginning" book was written in 2000, and covers PHP4. Therefore, the two books don't confer a chronological sense of "Part 1" and "Part 2", as I had anticipated.
In my opinion, if you have one of these two Wrox books, you won't need the other. Since "Beginning PHP4" is newer, get that one for an excellent introduction to the subject, then get "PHP Black Book" or another advanced book to continue your studies.
By the way, I hope that "extremeperl" gives more thought to book ratings in the future. He gave this book a 1 star rating because he thought that PHP was a poorly written language, and preferred Perl. Since the authors had no hand in creating the PHP language, it's extremely unfair to criticize PHP by giving poor ratings to this book ...
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on August 11, 2001
As someone that reads computer books, you have probably read a *lot* of disappointing ones while holding onto an ideal the Perfect Computer Book. Unfortunately, this book would more likely be classified as the former. It is quite bloated, including even a section on HTML in the back. This is more of a reference than a tutorial, although falls shorts to being an ideal reference. It does, however, include quite a bit of information and can often be helpful. I periodically find myself looking up stuff on this book while doing PHP programming.
If this was the only PHP book on the market, you wouldn't be bad off with this book. However, there has to be better books out there, so I would recommend that your search for a PHP programming book does not stop with this book.
As for other options, I consider _PHP Essentials_ by Julie C. Meloni an extremely good book, except that it lacks information with templates, which I consider a major flaw. Although I still like using books for PHP programming, PHP's website,, is a very essential resource while programming.
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on July 24, 2001
I bought this book to supplement a graduate class in which we were researching a solution for an online automobile insurance application. We compared C++, PERL, ASP, JSP, and PHP.
If you have programmed with another language, I would recommend this book. The syntax of loops, ifs, and case statements was covered. The object-oriented model of PHP was also expained. The book covered the two subjects I was primarily concerned with: databases and LDAP. These subjects are treated with vague explanations and some examples. I thought the examples were a bit skimpy and hard to follow. Some people have recommended using the online documentation. I would recommend buying this book to get a good foundation of PHP. Then, buy the PHP developer's cookbook to find solutions to problems you encounter. The online documentation is good as a reference manual. This book is good for some reference, but mostly to read from beginning to end in order to uncover the power of PHP. Once you understand the principles behind PHP, you can scour the web and the "Cookbook" for specific code for the solution you have devised within the limitations of PHP.
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on February 16, 2001
Okay - let's start by criticizing the bad parts. In my opinion at least, this book does not neccessarily cover good programming practices. I.e - html and php code are frequently mixed up in the same programs, which is usually not a good idea if you want to keep your logic separated from your design. It's almost always a good idea to have html separated from logic since you can much more easily change the design (using your favorite web-editor, which most probably won't understand PHP and will report constant errors in your code).
Also, I think the book focuses too much on MySQL as the backend database. I know that mysql is very popular and does a great job in many circumstances, but the reason why I got this book was to learn PHP, not Mysql. I really needed a couple of more references and programming examples when you need to use PHP against other Databases, which in my case is Oracle 8i.
This was my first book for PHP, a language I almost stumbled into by accident after spending lots and lots of time trying to figure out Microsoft's (in my view) arcane and difficult coding methods for .ASP and .NET. Not so with PHP! It's easy and quickly learned - and this book really enhanced my experience, touching on many subjects that I had problems grasping when learning from various disconnected tutorials lying around the web.
It starts by showing you how to integrate PHP directly into your HTML, which, as I said, might be good for small one or two-page apps (and is also by many considered to PHP's greatest strength, but not really great if you need to write more of a web *application* per se. It also really covers arrays and functions in a good way, plus provides a good many (lengthy!) examples as the conclusion of the book. I think the inclusion of a couple of the appendixes might have been omitted and thus made the book a bit more "quick and easy". Especially Wrox's "ultimate HTML reference", which really doesn't belong in a PHP book. Get O'reilly's HTML Pocket Reference instead.
One last bad point - I think a lot of the programming logic is just thrown at the user without really explaining all the nitty-gritty detail. So, this book is probably not for beginners.
In conclusion - if you've touched on the language before, get this book. If you haven't, read something like "Learning PHP4" first. This book covers a lot of ground, and it's 909 pages long, so be ready to use quite some time to digest it all. That said, it serves greatly as a reference when you've read it through, and is now a permanent desktop-sitter on my desk.
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on August 29, 2000
There is really no other choice for throroughness on the subject of PHP. The price is more than reasonable for the breadth and depth of this book's coverage as you'll get this paperback tattered in no time (my personal test of utility - how fast before the cover falls off). It contains an ever expanding tutorial that gets one up to speed pretty fast; as a reference for PHP it holds up very well also. Let's face it, web scripting languages no matter what they are (e.g., PERL, cgi, etc.) are not trivial to use, but this book stands up as one of the best I've seen for satisfying both (serious) beginner, and experienced user. I would include PROFESSIONAL PHP PROGRAMMING as one of my core linux bibles in a set that would also include DuBois MYSQL (excellent chapter on hooking PHP up to MySQL), Laurie and Laurie's APACHE: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE, and Christiansen and Torkington's PERL COOKBOOK. Throw in any one of the basic Linux distributions with their manuals, and you can take over the world. This (and the other publications) have me up and running on a Pentium 133 with 32 mb of RAM and a 3 gig hard drive - Turbolinux Workstation 6.0, Apache 1.3.9, PHP 4.0, and MySQL (I forget the distribution!). It's a cool world.
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on August 16, 2000
I just have to say that this book isn't the best written or organized book, but hey, they're programmers and doing their best. However, it still is great reading for someone who is coming from Microsoft's ASP or from no experience in server side scripting. The book covers the basics on just about everything and goes into enough detail on the important stuff so you can start coding immediately.
The beginning starts out covering the basics of PHP and server side scripting in general. This explains the difference between it and other languages and also how to use PHP in the first place. The following chapters cover more advanced features available to any programming language, but that still need to be explained specifically to this language (i.e. arrays, objects, functions, strings). Then you get into the good stuff. The book covers relational and non-relational databases, but spends almost all of its time on the mySQL database server. Then it (barely) shows you what LDAP is and how you use it. If you bought this book for LDAP, you shouldn't have. It then goes on to cover how PHP works with XML and the basics of XML. I have to say that these basics were better than some other stuff I've seen. Following that, the book explains how to generate and manipulate images using PHP (a very cool feature) and then how to send and recieve e-mail using the POP3 and IMAP protocols. And then it explains how to connect to different types of servers using the TCP protocol (connecting to a whois for example). And later on it explains security, such as SSL, but it doesn't go into much depth on this topic and spends much of the chapter explaining how to set up SSL and obtain a security certificate. And finally, and most importantly, it explains error handling and debugging.
So if you are a beginner to PHP and looking to get your hands into each part of the language, this is the book. And in the back of the book, it has a case study for a Shopping Cart that is fairly useful if you know how to fix code and there is also an appendix that covers just about every single command that could be used in PHP. By the way, PHP is WAAAAAAAAAY better than ASP.
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on July 27, 2000
Boy, my reviews of Wrox books probably seem a little boring, since there is so little fault to find with them. The Wrox programming books are really the best books on the market, and it's interesting that the Oreilly books haven't yet published a decent book on php or xml stuff. I liked the way this PHP book explained the various setup options and the amount of space discussing mysql (which is a major reason why people are using php anyway).
What distinguishes this book from the rest are the examples. The tutorial part of the book works with two simple projects, an online job app and an address book, which were easy enough to follow. Actually, I found this book to be a useful intro to cgi script writing in addition to php.
Also interesting were 4 case studies about ways to use php. Example: did you know that with the qt libraries, php can manipulate images (such as zooming, and overwriting images with text)? That is amazing! A chapter on phorum explains how a discussion software uses php, and another one explains the use of a shopping cart (I tend to agree with the other reader who thinks that this is not necessarily the best example to use). The book also describes other things like using php for file management and storage, email configuration, and network connections. Some other topics covered in depth include: xml, security and database integration.
The appendix has many things. First, obviously, it has an alphabetical list of all the php functions. It also has a helpful appendix on http headers and another on browser support of html tags. This last thing is only somewhat handy to have, because web developers reading this book are past the point of needing browser support info re legacy html tags. Instead developers should be worrying about xml and xslt. Some technical books increase the size of their book by stuffing a lot of code throughout it. Wrox seems to like to increase the size by including large and somewhat irrelevant appendices.
This book made me realize many new potential ways in which php could be used. That is the most valuable thing about the book. I have not tried very much of the code, so I can't comment on whether it all works. But (to summarize) it will really broaden your horizons of what php is capable of.
The only reason I've given it 4 stars is that I haven't read the whole thing yet.
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on June 13, 2000
Ok, this is a very good book. I bought this book, with very limited programming experience. I had only really tinkered around with PHP.
I found this book very easy to read, and use when I needed it later for a specific job. I think this book is better used going through it from start to finish, taking notes, or however else you learn. There are about 200 pages of Appendix with some handy references.
I skipped the installation chapters as I had PHP already installed on my web host.
At the end of many chapters, there are exercises you do that links to the chapter you just covered. For the first few chapters you work on a online job application, and build that up at the end of each chapter. Then it moves on to an address book...
At the end of the chapters(before the appendix) is 4 case studies: Shopping cart, Phorum discussion board, Email application, and Database browser. Here they write these web applications, and show you how it's done!
There are not many mistakes in the writing. I think there are two mistakes in the code, but that is covered on their website.
Overall I think this is the best book on the market for PHP. It is interesting, very practical, and is a great book for learning PHP.
What are you waiting for? :)
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on June 1, 2000
As a reference manual, "Profession php Programming" has some utility. The 880 pages contain a lot of references to specific php staements, data types, operators and functions. As a demonstration certain programming techniques, it's not bad, either; the bulk of the text follows the creation of pages involving e-mail, LDAP, XML, SQL, shopping carts and other popular web applications. You certainly can't faul it for completeness. But as a tutorial for the php beginner, it's rather lacking, unless you're willing to slog through all 880 pages to learn by example.
I think this book is a case of too many cooks; there are five seperate authors, and it shows. The overall organization is confused and inconsistant, and the graphic layout of the book is a mess. There's an awful lot of information here- finding it is the problem.
If you have a specific interest in the topics mention above, and you'd like to see some well-documented examples of how to implement them, you may find this book useful. But if you're a newcomer to php, look elsewhere.
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on May 18, 2000
You people are crazy giving this book only 4 stars. To those who complain about the extremely brief function reference: it's better not to include it. Why? Because the book would have been too huge. If you want a good function reference printed out, it would have to be a second book. They did something better: they organized the functions by category and left the alphabetical and example listing to the easy-to-find html version on the web which they apparently assumed the reader would be intelligent enough to save to their hard drive and use "find" in the edit menu when they need the info. It's easier than lugging a book around and many times faster. Just bookmark the PHP reference you should have already saved to your hard drive.
The Environment variables listing and web browser compatibility sections were much needed.
OK, OK a good function reference would have been nice. But how often are complete ones included? When they are included, they aren't very impressive. A better formatted version than that enormously-space-wasting web function reference would have been nice. It could have replaced the verbose sections that detailed specific PHP applications. Those should have been left out.
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