PHP is turning into one of the biggest Web success stories since Apache. It’s extremely useful for dynamic, database-driven Websites. Unfortunately, there are precious few PHP books, and even fewer written for average users. This book helps fill that void. PHP Essentials will undoubtedly be useful even to grizzled Web gurus who may nevertheless be new to PHP.
PHP Essentials, written by Julie Meloni, is an excellent book for PHP beginners. Meloni is currently the Technical Director for i2i Interactive, a multimedia company located in Campbell, CA.
The author assumes very little programming knowledge on the part of the reader and walks through practical real-world examples with clear instructions. The writing style of the book is much more informal than the average technical book, the author takes a conversational tone with the reader which makes PHP Essentials a pleasant read despite the amount of technical information it does impart.
The book’s title is almost misleading, not because it doesn’t cover the essentials of PHP, but because it covers a great deal more than just PHP. Meloni walks the reader through setting up a Web server, installing PHP and MySQL and creating a data-base. PHP Essentials even has a short section on basic database theory and SQL. It is really a guide to creating a dynamic Web site with a database back-end.
The book doesn’t cover all possible situations, but it’s certainly an excellent jumping-off point for creating a site with PHP. Essentials covers creating databases, selecting and displaying data, user authentication and session tracking. The last two chapters of the book pull everything together nicely and walk the reader through creating a basic e-commerce system, including the Web-based administration interface.
Also included is a PHP language reference appendix. The language reference covers only a small percentage of the entire PHP language, but it does cover the most commonly used elements of PHP. The real essentials. PHP Essentials does not cover every aspect of PHP, which would be difficult in a book twice as thick, but it does a good job of covering the most vital aspects of the language.
Unfortunately, unlike most technical books these days, PHP Essentials does not come packaged with a CD-ROM with scripts or code. Readers will be in for quite a bit of typing while working through the examples, and having to download all of the code for a Web server, database, and PHP will take quite a while if you’re stuck on the end of a 56K dial-up connection. However, the author does make the scripts available from her site: http://Thickbook.com.
PHP Essentials will not teach the reader everything he ever wanted to know about PHP but were afraid to ask. It is, however a great first book on PHP that will whet the appetite for more.
Anyone looking to add PHP to his skill-set would do well to pick up a copy of PHP Essentials. It’s an excellent introduction to creating and maintaining Web sites with PHP. The experience you gain looks good on a resume, too!