|PHP Book References|
Finding the right PHP documentation
And in the many extensions to PHP, the authors have added judiciously such topics as CCVs,Connection Handling, LDAP, ODBC, Pspell, Regular expression, Semaphore and shared memory, Tick/URL and WDDX functions. In short, users get a fairly detailed (but not absolutely comprehensive )tour of PHP
But even more important, the layout of the reference is different and clever. Instead of the usual alphabetical listing of objects, classes, methods, and functions; the authors have grouped these topics into categories - the very arrays, calendaring, regular expression categories noted above. At the front of the reference is page number reference to each category so readers can quickly find all they need to know about variables or strings or LDAP in PHP. If they need to see a specific object or function the well laid out index in the back makes finding a specific object very easy. Finally, despite its publication in Fall of 2001, the Toronto public library copy is already very well worn.
Learning PHP5 by David Sklar - OReilly Press for $30US
And it is really too bad because the subtitle to this book really catches its true character - "A Pain-free introduction to Building Interactive Websites [using PHP]". I have both the Bible and the Master Series books on PHP - but what one really needs with PHP is a run through the key concepts of the language. There is a pretty good starting tutorial on the PHP website and look to our own PHP Links and References for the heavy detail ( and there is lots of that with PHP). But this book certainly delivers an easy to understand overview of PHP.
But PHP also needs a a good programming overview into not immediately linked to MySQL and getting a database running - Learning PHP is just that intro. It start off with the basic syntax and emphasizes arrays and functions early and in detail. Then there are important chapters on cookies and sessions, handling dates and times (this is a huge topic with dozens of functions), working with files plus the important topic of parsing XML and the simplified methods available with PHP5.
If you are still looking for a good intro to PHP (but not all the PHP5 new bells and whistles), then don't buy the new book at $30 but rather get one of the second hand copies available at Borders or Amazon.
Upgrading to PHP5 by Adam Trachtenberg - OReilly Press for $30US
Upgrading to PHP5 is the real deal - its topic is getting PHP developers used to the new OO world that is PHP5. And the book, following PHP's own OO tutorial emphasizes simple, but effective CLI like examples of OO definitions and then simple code with <?php print $thisobj . "is the value" ?> test examples. It works.
But just barely - because for the important topic of OO, Adam is done in 29 pages. We do see some use of OO later in the book; but I had expected more comparison with PEAR routines or samples of OO used in popular PHP apps. The biggest section is on database connectivity to MySQL with a whole new set of extensions, SQLite the personal database (do not use this for concurrent database operations, table locking is the preferred method for concurrency control) and Oracle's new extensions get the most coverage, about 90 pages in this 300 page book. Continuing the PHP tradition, each database has its own native call format - so ADOdb, PearDB and other standard database access frameworks should get more coverage than the single page references.
In general this books does a good job covering all the advances that are in PHP5 - this is an enormous upgrade; something that the Perl people have floundered on. But I could not help but ask for more. Not just the OO coverage, but also only one major coding example. But even more frustrating were the install instructions for both PHP and the MySQL with PHP. Both proved inadequate for Linux and Windows installs. So this book is 6.5 on 10 - it certainly gets PHP users started (but not well given the missing details on install) and appreciative of the nature of the changes in PHP5 but it is a bit short on adding details and insight. Strange - I have never seen O'Reilly miss top notch on two books in a row.
Now as for web references for PHP - there are an abundance of riches. Here are our favorites and a quick explanation as to why:
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