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Friday 17th January 2014 PHP Book Review: The Joy of PHP by Alan Forbes

A while ago, we did a quick overview of a few books that every PHP developer should keep a copy of somewhere in their library, but since buying books can get quite expensive after a while, we thought it would be best if we zoomed in a little bit closer and started looking more in-depth at some of the best PHP titles. This post, we're going to look at one of the more beginner level books that's a great help for those of you who are just starting out on the journey to become a proper PHP developer,  The Joy of PHP: A Beginner's Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and MySQL by Alan Forbes.
 
First of all, it's important to realise from the beginning that this isn't just another PHP reference book intended to act as the be-all and end-all of PHP development. It's targeted directly at the PHP novice, although it helps a great deal if you've already got some basic web programming experience - he covers the basics of HTML, but that's not the focus of the book. If you're already comfortable coding the front-end side of websites, this is the perfect book to help you get a taste of the basics of back-end coding so you can expand your skillset.
 
It takes you from the very initial setup of PHP and xAMPP on your home development environment, through basic PHP syntax and then starts giving you basic tasks that help you work towards making these initially abstract examples more concrete and relevant. The example he uses throughout the book isn't particularly exciting (a used car sales website), but it definitely  does the job, and Forbes' engaging writing style also helps to keep things moving along. The focus tends to be more on working with databases specifically, but as most beginner-to-intermediate PHP developers are going to be focused on database-driven projects, this shouldn't be much of a problem.
 
There is a little bit of criticism in the developer community about the way that he handles his code examples in the book - the ever-present threat of SQL injection attacks is something that no developer can afford to ignore in this day and age. That being said, the author isn't attempting to turn the reader into a PHP master, the goal is simply to get people comfortable with the basics. Anyone who takes this knowledge out in the world and creates websites for clients is going to be in for a nasty surprise, as this book should just be used as a jumping off point - but it does that job very well, and provides a great introduction to PHP and MySQL - just be sure to read up on security vulnerabilities, and then take on a few more advanced books!

Posted on January 17th 2014 at 03:55am
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Tuesday 26th November 2013 Great PHP Books Every Developer Should Own

Becoming a developer is a never-ending process. No matter how long you work at it, there are always things to learn, always new iterations of PHP to keep up on, and always a more elegant solution to a particular problem. One of the best ways to hone your skills, of course, is to get your fingers dirty doing actual coding in the trenches, but it's not the only way to expand your capabilities. Sometimes the only way to move forwards is by picking up some new knowledge from a new source, so we've put together a list of books that every PHP developer should own.
 
First on the list is from the venerable and respected O'Reilly series. Unimaginatively titled 'PHP Cookbook: Solutions and Examples for PHP Programmers', the content itself is nevertheless extremely elegant and well-put together. Aimed at both novice developers and more advanced pros, there's something for everyone here. Organized from the perspective of problem solving instead of a more traditionally structured approach, even advanced developers may find more elegant solutions to common programming problems. Make sure you grab the edition that's been updated for PHP5!
 
Next on the list is the also unimaginatively titled (noticing a trend here yet?) 'PHP and MySQL Web Development (4th Ed.) by Luke Welling and Laura Thomson. This book offers a more traditionally structured approach, covering everything from the basics of how PHP and MySQL interact conceptually to more concrete examples on how to deal with session management, email, and even PDFs and images. Famed for its clarity of writing and down-to-earth style, the 5th edition is slated for release in Spring of 2014 complete with updates for PHP 5.5.
 
Finally, for those of you who are already quite familiar with PHP, we reach 'PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice' by Matt Zandstra. It covers some of the additions from PHP 5.3, but doesn't seem to have an updated version. Regardless, it teaches best PHP practices from project design to build and implementation solutions, making it far more useful for the large-scale enterprise developer.
 
The trend in unimaginative names probably stems from the logical nature of the typical programming mind, but there is a certain charm in something that 'does what it says on the tin', as the saying goes. If these books still seem to daunting to you, you can test the PHP programming waters with some of the online tutorials we mentioned in our previous post. Enjoy!

Posted on November 26th 2013 at 06:25am
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Labels: books, learning, php
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