Review: PHP Solutions
The folks at Friend of Ed were kind enough to send me a copy of PHP Solutions, by David Powers. This book is solely intended for someone who hasn't used PHP before but approaches it in a way that is different than most books I've seen.
The cover describes itself as a way to "create dynamic websites with PHP and MySQL, quickly and painlessly" and presents itself like a recipe book for various web development tasks.
Because this is a beginners book, it starts you off right from the beginning with the first four going through installation and the basics of programming with PHP. As the book progresses, various self-contained bits of code are presented as a solution, with subsequent solutions mostly building on those before it.
Chapters 5 through 9 cover common elements of PHP development like handling form data, uploading files, and manipulating images using GD. Chapters 10 and 11 cover setting up and working with MySQL.
Chapter 12 puts together an image gallery which really ties all the previous chapters up in a nice package. Chapter 13 steps through creating an administration module for managing the content. Finally, the last two chapters cover common pitfalls and security.
What I liked
I thought the book was really well laid out and very forward-thinking, explaining features between versions 4 and 5, as well as talking about what was to be expected in PHP 6. I also liked the fact that many of the security issues were explained throughout the book. Having the MySQL section so late in the book was a good idea as it meant solutions up until that point were presented not relying on it. This gives readers a much more rounded approach to data storage than just "put it in the database."
By the end of the book, readers have all the components of building their own database-driven web site.
In the end, there wasn't much about this book I didn't like. There's no object-oriented programming or frameworks du jour covered in here but that's a good thing. The book was well structured, well written and for someone who's never touched PHP before, this would be an ideal book.