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PHP for Absolute Beginners (Expert's Voice in Open Source) [Paperback]

Jason Lengstorf
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 14, 2009 1430224738 978-1430224730 1

Get started in web development using PHP. Even if you've never programmed before, author Jason Lengstorf introduces you to PHP by building a PHP-based blogging site while covering all the good coding practices and skills that you'll need when you start your own projects.

  • Create web content with version 5.3 of PHP
  • Learn good coding practices from the very beginning
  • Learn how systems like WordPress work

Jason Lengstorf takes a practical approach to teaching you how to build a content management system. You'll dive into writing web applications and be guided by the author's supportive explanations, rather than learning elements of the PHP language and viewing examples after.

PHP for Absolute Beginners starts slowly and covers everything you need to know about beginning web development using PHP. Even the most inexperienced web developer will find this book accessible.

What you’ll learn

  • Install Apache, MySQL, and PHP
  • Navigate the PHP language
  • Learn the basics of writing clean code
  • Talk to a database
  • Make a PHP site more secure
  • Create a complete blogging site

Who this book is for

PHP for Absolute Beginners is written for the complete novice; no previous coding knowledge is assumed, and all concepts are explained to ensure maximum understanding.

However, later chapters in the book may appeal to intermediate programmers looking to improve their abilities in the area of developing content management systems or those interested in making the move from procedural code to the more modular object-oriented approach.

Table of Contents

  1. Setting Up the PHP Development Environment
  2. Understanding PHP: Language Basics
  3. Passing Information with PHP
  4. Working with Databases
  5. Building the Entry Manager
  6. Adding Support for Multiple Pages
  7. Updating and Deleting Entries
  8. Adding the Ability to Upload Images
  9. Syndicating the Blog
  10. Adding a Commenting System to Your Blog
  11. Adding Password Protection to Administrative Links
  12. Finishing Touches

Frequently Bought Together

PHP for Absolute Beginners (Expert's Voice in Open Source) + PHP Cookbook: Solutions and Examples for PHP Programmers + PHP Solutions: Dynamic Web Design Made Easy
Price for all three: $87.58

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jason Lengstorf is a 27-year-old turbogeek from Portland, OR. He started building websites in his late teens when his band couldn�t afford to pay someone to do it, and he continued building websites after he realized his band wasn�t actually very good. He�s been a full-time freelance web developer since 2007, and expanded his business under the name Copter Labs, which is now a distributed freelance collective, keeping about 10 freelancers worldwide busy. He is also the author of PHP for Absolute Beginners and Pro PHP and jQuery.

Product Details

  • Series: Expert's Voice in Open Source
  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (October 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430224738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430224730
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jason Lengstorf is a twenty-something from Portland, Oregon who has spent the last decade or so learning how to make a living without wearing pants. Along the way, he's started Copter Labs, written a few books, drawn a few pictures, and spoken to a few like-minded geeks. He's a music nerd, a foodie, a shameless coffee snob, and a big fan of wandering the globe.

You can find more info about Jason at his personal website,, or on the Copter Labs site at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A review from a REAL absolute beginner in PHP April 7, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am an absolute beginner in PHP. I have never coded anything from scratch in PHP. In fact, I don't have much coding experience at all aside from HTML. The most experience I have in PHP is in wading through thousands of lines of code to copy/paste some mods to an open-source forum program I have on one of my websites.

Being an absolute beginner in PHP, I give the book 3 stars. Here's why:

The author glosses over theory (in some instances, he just does away with it all together) in order to hurry up and get to the part of the book where you code your own blog. That's fine if all you want to be able to do with PHP is code your own simple blog. However, if you're like me and would actually like to be able to code something other than a blog after you read this book, you NEED theory. There are several different ways you can code things to get the same output. You need to know the hows and whys of them all in order to choose the best coding method for your project. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating a buggy program and spending hundreds of hours and countless frustrations on a project that you'll ultimately have to scrap because it wasn't coded properly in the first place.

There is no Glossary. Dozens of new terms and concepts get thrown at you within the first two chapters of the book, most of which are poorly explained (if they are even explained at all). A glossary at the back of the book would have allowed the author to explain them in detail to true beginners in PHP without taking up space within the chapters themselves. Without it, the first couple of chapters can be a bit overwhelming.

There are errors in the test code. To me, this is perhaps the biggest flaw this book has.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome PHP for Beginners and Beyond October 29, 2009
PHP has been the most popular server-side web developer language for years now. There are more websites created with PHP than any other programming language (more than ASP.NET, Java, etc.). That is probably why there are tons of PHP books from beginner to advanced on the market today.

I have a few PHP books and looked over lots of others online but so many have fell short in my opinion. Either they are way too basic and cover little tidbits and little examples. Thats all well and good for just learning the basics of the language but then what?

After you learn the basics of the PHP syntax (variables, conditional statements, loops, functions, object and connecting to MySQL) then what?

Well, normally most will try and look for an intermediate-advanced book, but do know what happens then? You find the book teaches more advanced topics which may or not be of help to you because you really havent fully understood how to use the basics yet.

I have taught lots of beginner to intermediate classes on PHP, ASP.NET, JavaScript and such and I find students dont fully know how to take what they have learned and put into practice. How do we solve this problem?

This book does. This is the only book i've read in PHP (if not any other programming web langauge), that after it explains the syntax basics with some small little examples, it then shows the reader how to take what they have learned into developing a real world example.

This book shows its readers how to build a working blog site. Of course its not a WordPress clone, but its a useable website that can be expanded. It is actually useful web application. Brilliant!

I have started to implement this book on my PHP classes I will teach next semester.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book needs a lot of editing. December 15, 2009
It's clear from reading this book that edits were made after the initial submission. Some of the code doesn't work or doesn't match the author's "official" code sample for the chapter. I've read enough programming books to expect these kinds of problems but it's inexcusable for a book that targets ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS. Many of the errors I've found could have been caught in editing if the proof reader entered the program as described in the book.

For example, in Chapter 5 the author provides a Cascading Style Sheet with the caveat that this isn't a book on HTML/CSS and the user should type the text as displayed. Detailed instructions are provided for including the style sheet in the project. Unfortunately the href for the style sheet - "/css/default.css" - is wrong and it should be "/simple_blog/css/default.css". As a result, the style sheet isn't used and the actual browser output doesn't match what's displayed in the book.

In Chapter 3, page 90 the author feeds the result of the trim() function to the empty() function as part of a conditional check - if(!empty(trim($_POST['username']))). This code returns a fatal error because empty() will only check variables. Again, typing the code as displayed in the book would have caught the error.

In Chapter 7 on page 200 there's a custom confirmDelete() function that doesn't work and isn't part of the author's official code sample. Did anybody test the code before putting it in the book?

I'm giving PHP for Absolute Beginners 3 stars because the editing was sloppy. If the errors are corrected I would give it an additional star. The author provides a complete sample application and reviews all the pieces of the program. That's more than you'd get from a Software Development Kit sample.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Bad Book
I've been doing development work professionally in one capacity or another for around 15 years. I wanted to learn some PHP for a small side project and picked up this text at... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gregory Hein
1.0 out of 5 stars This book has too many mistakes and not for beginners
I have worked with PHP for more than a decade and got this book for my brother who wanted to learn PHP. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Moazzam
2.0 out of 5 stars Errors, Errors, Errors
First, if your a beginner, this book is not for you unless you want a tutorial that throws large amounts of code at you and explains it in two or three sentences and repeats. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Daniel Beaulieu
1.0 out of 5 stars See review "FULL OF MISTAKES" by jdhadwin
I just wanted to echo the sentiments of the referenced review, and further down weight the rating of this publication. This book is not worthy of 3 stars, let alone 5. Read more
Published on November 10, 2011 by Warfarin
2.0 out of 5 stars Awful - Dont waste your money
As other reviewers have mentioned, this book is full of programming errors, thus definitely not a book for Absolute Beginners. Read more
Published on August 16, 2011 by A. Hussain
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly error-prone
Just check out jdhadwin's review for most of my thoughts. He really nailed the shortcomings of this one. The book has good intentions, but you can't trust the code examples. Read more
Published on January 29, 2011 by KingJames
2.0 out of 5 stars For "PHP" it is quite a letdown
To call this book a beginner's guide to "PHP" is rather like calling a book on how to use FrontPage a beginner's guide to "HTML"

It places far too much emphasis on the... Read more
Published on January 4, 2011 by Clara L. West
1.0 out of 5 stars FULL OF MISTAKES - drove me crazy
Anyone who gave this book a five star review didn't do anything more than gloss over it and rate the overall intentions of the author. Read more
Published on December 1, 2010 by jdhadwin
3.0 out of 5 stars Kind of boring
I found this book somehow boring: it does a good intro for the very beginners but then -let's say from chapter 6 on- it's a matter of bare copying his code without any significant... Read more
Published on November 25, 2010 by Attilio A.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Simple PHP Web Application for Absolute Beginners or Experienced...
The first part of PHP for Absolute Beginners, 2009, by Jason
Lengstorf,(he also wrote PHP and JQuery), from Apress Publishers
is a concise, easy-to-follow introduction to... Read more
Published on September 7, 2010 by Michael Morgan
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