Review: PHP Solutions

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.

Published January 28, 2007
Categorized as Book Reviews
Short URL: http://snook.ca/s/760

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Nate K said on January 29, 2007

Im gonna get a copy of this book soon, was a little leary at first. I like PHP books, but I think that the simple solutions approach is what gives PHP a bad name sometimes. People not really understanding the language, just copying/pasting self contained scripts without understanding the big picture. This is what always starts the language wars and why people look down on PHP (its low barrier of entry). I hope that this book does a good job of really TEACHING PHP, not just giving out canned, self contained, scripts.

Emil said on January 29, 2007

Do you have any recommendations for self learned PHP programmers? There are a lot of people out there who knows how to create a PHP site but don't understand frameworks, design patterns, scaling, cache (who to work with massive traffic) and how to create _good_ solutions, not just solutions that works.

Jonathan Snook said on January 29, 2007

Emil: those are very good things to want to learn. Unfortunately, I don't know of any books that suit the bill, mostly because I haven't had much chance to read any. I'll try and get my hands on some pro books for the future.

David said on January 29, 2007

If you ever get bored of that book, I know someone that could use a good book to get back into PHP...lol.

Nate Klaiber said on January 30, 2007

Emil,
I briefly had a chance to skim through 'PHP 5 Objects, Patterns, and Practice' by Apress and it looked like a great book for diving into advanced PHP, patterns, etc.

Also, a book by Wrox called 'Professional PHP' does an incredible job of covering PHP5, objects, design patterns, scaling, caching, and server setup (as well as some good tips for project/client management).

As for frameworks, I haven't seen many books that cover everything (including frameworks). You will most likely have to get a framework specific book.

Hope this helps....

Cory said on February 01, 2007

I am anxiously awaiting getting this book really soon. It appears to be very well written. I am still pretty new to PHP so hopefully this book is going to give me that solid foundation to get started right.

Thanks for the review, you have certainly helped in my decision to buy the book.

Alistair said on May 21, 2007

I've also read PHP solutions and can vouch for its usefulness. It's a great book but i wouldn't recommend it people who've had no exposure whatsoever to php. There is more appropriate titles that will give you a more gentle introduction:

1) "Codin' for the web" is probably the gentlest introduction to php i've seen and is good for designers who have no prior programming experience but are looking to make their websites dynamic. I wish i read this before a lot of more difficult titles i struggled to get through.

2) My favourite php book is "PHP & MySQL" by Larry Ullman. He really is a superb author, his style is fantastic, so clear and concise. I highly recommend this one for beginners and intermediates in php.

Anyone with some other good php book recommendations?

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