Customer Reviews: Agile Web Application Development with Yii1.1 and PHP5
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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on October 5, 2010
Was pretty excited about this book because it's the only Yii book out there.

I'm up to chapter 8 so far.

Anyway, there are bunch of errors and certain system administrative encounters.

The skills require for this book are php5, OOP, LAMP skills, and google/stackoverflow/serverfault ninja skills. You would probably want some database design skills for just those foreign keys or at least a basic understanding but I think you can do without it.

Here's what I've encountered:
-PHP 5.3.3 They change the timezone and stuff. If you read the error carefully you can fix it by adding a line of timezone code in the yii file.
-Font Mistakes
-Code style and format is ugly. I mean seriously when I'm reading the book and there are if and else loop nested 3 times, the author doesn't really have a great coding style and the way it is layout in the book just makes it harder to read.
-typos in url and there are typos in code
-The SQL schema is also wrong because the way it declare the primary key will have mysql complaining, typo.
-I believe this is more of a software fault because the foreign complain unless you have the same datatype ie INTEGER and INTEGER instead of INTEGER and INTEGER(4). I've asked this on stackoverflow could be my mysql version.
-Did I mention the typo? Here's the worst lines I've came across: pg 129, with words like "thehe uof" and "conssue", yeah, gibberish that need editing. I know I'm pretty damn bad at grammar but seriously this is pretty bad.
-pg 163-164 for the UserIdentity::authenticate() It's really different. I've check version 1.1.1 and it's almost the same where as the version of Yii I'm using is 1.1.3. I've also checked with the source code and the code is different too! It's like a typo mismash with some other function login function in the LoginForm php file. I don't think it's important but still highlight the fact that this framework is constantly updating and the typo does add to the frustration.

What I find myself doing:
I find myself easily lost in the grand scheme of MVC. I dived into the chapters, implement the code and parts of the application and I easily get lost in the details. What I do after I finish each chapter is step back and print out the code and review it. I also have a pretty big white board to draw diagram of how the models, views, controllers relate to each other when I insert the codes. I review why does the author do this and what the hell is going on. I think this is the best approach, at least for me.

Oh, it takes the errata page forever to post errors. I've sent like 8+ errors and I don't see any of mine in there (4 ish months now?). Please check the errata page for any errors.

What this book needs:
-Editors and more diagrams.
-Perhaps be a bit more friendly with those that aren't good with LAMP stack or WAMP, if they want to broad out their reader base. I got my Lamp skills so I ain't complaining.
-Oh, it also need a new edition that isn't fill with typo.
-Get someone that knows nothing about Yii and get that person to sit down and try to learn the book. Whatever wtf questions, typos, and errors he/she encountered have that person write it down and fix it. Because when you know about a subject and write a book about it, sometime you tend to assume that they know what you're talking about or assume a certain thing and so you end up explaining very little. This is like assuming that the readers can read your mind. I think this is the hardest part for most technical books.
-I've seen all these positive reviews for packt because they have a program where if you have a blog they'll give you free pdf if you review their book. Those reviews are buncha yes people. I'm not even sure sometime if they actually go over page by page or if they just skim them. GET a real person that know nothing and is willing to learn it to critique it so you can have a better product.

Does the book get the jobs done?
Yes, only if you're willing to work your butt. If you encounter any typos or anything you better learn how to google, stackoverflow, or serverfault it (they're websites!). If you're going to get lost in the details then learn to code review and review the chapter you've just read. This doesn't hold your hand and it cannot explain every single details you're going to encounter that isn't Yii related, ie system admin stuff.

It would be a 4 star if it weren't for those combination of typos, errors, and hard to read code layout. I can understand little typos but seriously these typos are pretty major that contribute to errors.

I recommend this book, if and only if, you're willing to work at it and have the necessary skills.
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on December 24, 2010
The book is written as a step-by-step guide creating a specific project and exploring the different features of Yii within that context. This does make it relatively easy to read and follow, but it's also rather annoying for an experienced programmer who only wants to know specific aspects of yii and how to use them and for the author to get write to the point rather than spend half of each chapter going on about testing (because that's literally what he does... the first half of every chapter he goes on about developing test cases, and in reality that's not how most would be developing in the real world). The book contains a huge number of errors and it doesn't seem like it's been proofread. For example there are glaring errors in some examples which certainly wouldn't make them work (e.g. developing recent comments widget). That is something easy to work around though. What's worse is when the book tells you to DO THINGS WRONG, that is in a way which there weren't designed to be done or follow bad programming practices... Biggest example of this is using static methods instead of what Yii refers to as Class Level Methods... You can read more on Models on the Difinitive Guide to Yii comments to find out how to do it properly. There also other examples of bad programming practices like prefixing all tables, etc.

However, this is the only book on Yii and it does seem to have a little more detail than some of the web material (which is more to the point though), so I'd still recommend someone new to Yii (especially if they're not experienced with OOP in PHP) to get this book as at the moment it is the only one out there. I hope in the next revision of the book they'll cut out the testing which takes half of the book and focus more on what people actually want and need to know. Might be able to fix the errors at the same time!
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on September 15, 2010
This book still might prove of value, because the last book I found this frustrating was the one I learned the most from but I'll explain what issues I'm running into and let you decide. My host site is on a Linux server.

Starting in Chapter two the reader is instructed to upload the Yii package into your hosting site's document root directory - In the book they use the term "WebRoot" to stand for the document root of the server. In my case this is public_html. After uploading the Yii zip folder and extracting the files into a folder named like Yii.SomeVersionNo. I am then instructed to rename the folder to YiiRoot which I did. So far so good, and this structure certainly matches with the instructions following so I KNOW it is correct.

Then I'm instructed to cd to my WebRoot (public_html) directory to issue the command YiiRoot/framework/yiic webapp demo. According to the book this is supposed to create files and folders that represent the basic structure of an application called demo off of WebRoot/demo which translates to public_html/demo in my case since my WebRoot is public_html.

When I issue this exact command instead of creating the demo directory and files off of /html, it creates it directly below the location of the yiic script ie: YiiRoot/framework/demo which places all this off of framework folder which is restricted and the server does NOT allow execution of the index.php file in that location from the browser.

So instead I have to issue the command like this YiiRoot/framework/yiic webapp ../../demo to get it to create the demo app files in the location outlined in the book.

After that I'm told to cd to the demo directory and issue commands like protected/yiic shell and that this will bring up the shell, but instead it comes up with an error about not being able to find index.php or some other file I've not seen or heard of. I have to issue the command protected/yiic ../../index.php to get it to see the index.php file and run as expected because it needs the path to the index.php file before it will run. I think this is because some critical installation step has been left out.

If I had not been working with Yii by following a tutorial already I would have been left in the dust about how to do this. Furthermore, if I ever forget to issue the paths or get the path wrong, I'm likely to end up creating files and folders that are NOT where they belong!

I've contacted [...] and submitted Errata and questions on how to resolve this days ago and I've not heard a thing from them.

I'm very disappointed in this book. Every time I read something or try to follow along I dread running into yet another problem with commands that do NOT work as the book said it should and I worry about what else doesn't work and is incorrect. I hate learning misinformation! My confidence in this book is at an all time low. I'm sure, there is some step I've not been told to do that the author forgot to tell or assumed I knew, which is absurd considering that it starts out at such a level as to show you how to install Yii, it appears to be intended for those without any experience with Yii at all. I've asked on the Yii irc channel in Freenode, but none seemed to know what's wrong - I guess it's time for another blog about releasing books with untested code.

My opinion of the book may go up, If I get a satisfactory reply from someone, especially the folks at [...]

It amazes me why so few books if any, cannot take the time to actually have someone go through the examples and test them out to see if they really do work as instructed.

Sorry for the big heated rant, but I find this poor level of accuracy and correctness inexcusable.
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on September 27, 2010
It was extremely, poorly edited, if edited at all. The content was decent, and it was an interesting approach to learning a framework. I still think I prefer the more traditional method of teaching a framework, analyzing one aspect of the architecture at a time.
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on September 23, 2010
I bought this book having done some of the Yii tutorials, because I have found that much of the other Yii online documentation is rather curt and lacking in examples. Because of my tutorial experience I already new how to set-up a Yii application, and so did not have the problems that another commentator has referred to. I found the early chapters rather slow and padded out. Anyone using Yii (and this book) must already be a competent PHP programmer, with a reasonable understanding of OO design. I don't feel that the author takes this sufficiently into account. I also found the amount of space devoted to Test Drive Design inappropriate. On a more positive note I did find the later chapters of help in bridging gaps in knowledge, for example those on subjects like user access control, themes and modules.

In summary I don't think that this is a bad book, as it does help take you beyond the Yii online tutorials. However, I suggest that anyone looking at these reviews disregards all those with a five star weightings, the book is simply not that good. I also feel that it would not take a massive improvement in the online documentation to make this book redundant.
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