dooling writes "Continuing the tradition of well written O'Reilly 'Programming' books by those who know the language best, Programming PHP, co-written by the creator of PHP, Rasmus Lerdorf, provides a detailed overview of the popular PHP web-page scripting language. This book provides good programmers who have never used PHP enough information to do serious web development using PHP and serves as an excellent reference for web-page designers who dabble in PHP." Read on for the rest of his review.While not as entertaining as Programming Perl, it isn't nearly as long either (and doesn't have to be). The book is written in a straightforward style and is very well organized. Appendices provide quick reference to all the PHP built-in functions and many PHP extensions. The most popular extensions, e.g., PEAR DB (database connectivity) and XML, have entire chapters devoted to them. Can't find a PHP extension for your favorite library? There's a chapter about writing your own PHP extensions, including writing C library wrappers.
This book begins as most O'Reilly "Programming" books do: with a brief introductory chapter. In Programming PHP, this chapter is very short, so don't look to this book for a gentle introduction. On the other hand, this is the perfect book for you if you are just looking to learn a new scripting language. The following chapters go over syntax, data types, built-in functions, etc. These chapters are a little dry, but move quickly and effectively demonstrate the unique features of PHP (as compared to other scripting languages).
Of particular interest to programmers who are interested in expanding their horizons to developing dynamic web pages are the chapters on PHP web techniques, security, and application techniques. The web techniques chapter gives a quick overview of HTML and the GET and POST methods (and why you would want to use one or the other). It then covers a lot of useful tips and tricks that may be foreign to someone who has done little or no web development. Topics such as getting server information, form processing, sticky forms, file uploads, document expiration, and authentication are covered. It ends with an excellent discussion of maintaining state from page to page and visit to visit, covering cookies and PHP's (very cool) session support.
The security chapter covers standard things you want to keep in mind when creating dynamic HTML. No surprises here, but it is always good to be reminded. The application techniques chapter starts with a collection of best-practices, tips, and tricks to make your development process easier and better. It concludes with sections about error handling and performance tuning. As with the security chapter, there is nothing here a good programmer doesn't already know, but you can never hear it too many times.
I think this is a great book for programmers who want to start developing dynamic web sites with PHP. It gives a detailed overview of PHP, lots of valuable tips, and a good sense of PHP's strengths.
As someone who has written a lot of code, but only a little CGI, I really liked the chapters that discussed application development techniques specific to the web. Along those lines, not much time is spent on standard coding techniques, so if you want to use PHP but have never written any serious code, you may want to look elsewhere for an introduction. For the rest of you, just think, you may never have to use CGI.pm again.
The index seems adequate, although I must admit I did not use it much on the first read-through. The book is so well organized that, when reading it, you do not have to flip around much. Perhaps someone who has used this book as a reference can comment further on the quality of the index.Contents are available on O'Reilly's page Links
See Rasmus's page for links to where you can buy the book (maybe he gets a kickback for the link). Of course, you could always go to a local bookstore and purchase it.
You can purchase Programming PHP from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.