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!