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on February 5, 2010
How I wish there was a Matt Doyle's textbook back when I began learning PHP. Well, I guess, better late than never!

Having worked in technical education for many years, and more recently as a front-end web developer, I know how crucial it is for educators and web designers to have a good grasp of the workings of PHP. PHP is the most widely used programing language, developed from the ground up, to address the needs of the web browsing consumer.

Back in November 2009 while looking at new arrivals in the technology section at a local bookstore, I came across what I consider now, the ideal book on the subject of PHP. Beginning PHP 5.3 by Matt Doyle "speaks" directly to my urgent need to understand what PHP is all about. This textbook "magically" (to borrow a term used recently by Steve Jobs) has clarified my understanding of many concepts in PHP that for years I felt pretty fussy about!

In 800 pages, it does the best job I know on the PHP language basics, including an extensive treatment of PHP's advances in object-oriented programing. Even better, I now also have a chance with this book to be very much up to date on the newest features of PHP programming brought on by version 5.3. Advances like object overloading, abstract classes, interfaces, namespaces and XML parsers are treated by Matt Doyle in his characteristic down-to-earth style. What's more, he never forgets to illustrate further the various subjects treated in the book, with the most appropriate and simplest code examples available.

For schools with courses on programming, Beginning PHP 5.3 is, without a doubt, an excellent textbook. It even includes exercises at the end of every chapter, with the solutions at the end of the book.

As for me, I'm planning to donate my whole PHP book collection and just keep my copy of Beginning PHP 5.3 (together with its eBook version) for my own learning pleasure and ready reference.
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on September 5, 2013
I figure if you're reading this review you have a need to learn PHP and you're trying to sift through reviews of a bunch of books and pick the best investment. I can't tell you about other PHP books; this was my first one. But I can tell you what I liked and didn't like about this PHP book.

First of all, there's a lot to like. Where the book is strong:

* The book is pretty comprehensive. And it takes you from the beginning using baby steps. You can come in not knowing beans about PHP and by the time you work your way through chapter 20 you will have covered a lot of ground.
* A fair number of the examples are kind of fun. Homing pigeons and "car objects", etc. As another reviewer wrote, if you take the time to actually do the "try it out" portions of the book, you will learn a lot. If nothing else, if you're not accustomed to having to put a semicolon at the end of every command line, you will discover how many times you'll forget to do that. Working through the examples will also serve as a way to learn the hard way that variable names ARE case sensitive and failure to repeat CamelCase variable names precisely will have you enjoying a nice debugging session.
* Doyle has put in review exercises for the reader to work through at the end of each chapter. I love this kind of thing because it give you a chance to apply the concepts and make sure you have them down pat. Plus he has an appendix with the solutions to all of the review exercises just in case you get stuck in the mud.
* I had already installed PHP & a web server emulator, so I didn't need that bit. But for the record, Doyle does cover how to install the software you'll need to run the examples. He covers (Ubuntu) Linux, Windows & Mac platforms.
* Inclusion of Chapter 20 - "Writing High-Quality Code". I've only skimmed it so far. But I like that Doyle takes the time to do this. I do development in VBA and so I am familiar with a lot of the fundamentals of writing good, solid code. But if I were relatively knew to coding in general, this chapter would be a nice primer.

Where the book could be stronger:
* E-mail contact forms. While the chapter on PHP & forms is good, building a solid contact form is one reason why a lot of people would look to learn PHP. It is why I was learning PHP. There is a chapter on this and there is a section on e-mailing via PHP. *BUT* IMO Doyle does not address a couple of major concerns that anyone building a contact form is going to have. First order of business, how to make sure spammers don't harvest your e-mail address. He does not really clarify whether or not the solution he presents will be robust against that threat. Second order of business, how to keep crackers (or is it hackers?) from hijacking the PHP script and turning your contact form into an e-mail re-mailer working for the cracker by injecting "headers". I had to go online and do further research to learn what Doyle left out.
* While he does point out various areas where threats exist (kudos for that) sometimes he doesn't explain why this is a threat. Example: on page 248 he states "With password fields, it's unwise to redisplay a user's password in the page because the password can easily be read by viewing HTML source." But this is in the context of a user keying in data into a form. If that's the case, against whose prying eyes are we protecting? Surely the person who typed in the password does not need to be blocked from seeing his own password should we be doing error handling. And I do not understand how someone else, not at the keyboard/screen is going to see another user's bounce-back.
* While Doyle does a nice job of explaining "objects" and the plethora of topics that go with them, I would have liked some practical examples. I am only halfway through the book. Perhaps in later chapters there are some examples of where implementing classes, inheritance and interfaces are used in a real setting? But in skimming the book I don't see them.
* I can't make up my mind about the PEAR stuff. My web host does not support it, so I have no reason to learn it. The example of creating e-mails with PHP uses PEAR which leaves me to have to "translate" the example into regular non-PEAR PHP & HTML. However, if I were going to use PEAR I'm sure I'd think the example was just dandy. I would have liked it if Doyle would have included a non-PEAR version of the example.

Overall, I would recommend the book. I do feel like I got my money's worth. But if Mr. Doyle should write another edition of this book, hopefully he will shore up the areas I listed above.
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on September 21, 2011
I rarely write reviews, but after finishing the book I felt compelled to. This book is the best book on PHP I have ever read, and I have read alot of them. Everthing from PDO, to Object Oriented Programming,Regular Expressions, Image Creation with GD, XML, and more is within the pages of this book.

Highly Recommended For Newbies and Pro's alike.
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on January 17, 2013
I had been introduced to Java and C at the University level, along with getting the nuts and bolts of the client side of user experience with html, css, and a little javascript. I personally run blogs and message boards, all that require the use of server side scripts, hence the need to know PHP.

Above describes my reasons, now my experience with the book.

This book stands as one of the few that allowed the eager intermediate developer(such as myself) to keep pace without getting board while still being able to be gentle enough to not alienate an intimidated beginner.

People who have some background in programming languages will find Part II: Learning the Language easy to read and able to skip through (perhaps just a quick view for syntax of certain php parts) functions are dealt with just a bit different in certain aspects of php.

As someone that runs massive blog networks for all kinds of affiliate products Part III: Using PHP in practice, played the most crucial role.

This is my first review of a product and I mention this by the simple fact that I was taken enough by the quality of this book to write it. Take my word that there are other good PHP books out there, but if you purchase this one, you will not be disappointed.
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on May 7, 2012
This book had great coding examples and very well written and easy to understand code, but my biggest problem was when the examples would include the PEAR framework. Only one install of PEAR worked, and the other one that is used a lot, the HTML_QuickFrom wouldn't at all. Not only is this one deprecated, it fired off a ton of errors and I couldn't get the form to work with the other examples. I understand using the QuickForm would be easier and nice to work with, but in my opinion the PEAR framework is kind of skeptic to use at times. I don't think the book should keep using the examples if people can't even use the framework and it's hard to tell the book, "These examples aren't working". Other than that, really great book and I learned a lot and enjoyed reading it!
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on May 16, 2012
Purchased this book just beginning of this month, and I am on Chapter 8 as I am writing this book review. This book is really easy to follow if you want to get started with PHP programming. The best part that I like the most about this book is the exercises at the end of each chapter. It's a good way to test myself and go back to review some of the areas that I need to complete those exercises, then I can discuss with other programmers on wrox.com forum site.
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on May 15, 2012
This book is a great introduction to PHP. I had no experience with PHP when I decided to learn it earlier this year, and I began with the "Head First PHP" book from O'reily. I really like that series, but it was not a good way to learn PHP. This book is simple, straight-forward, and concise. The arrangement of the book is very well thought out, and the book really doesn't assume any prior knowledge. That being said, the subject is complicated, and does take a solid effort to get, but the text does a great job of building on itself. I really like the book, and I think I will stick with the Wrox series from now on. You can also preview portions of the book on Google books.
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on August 3, 2015
This is a best of breed PHP 5.3 book. It covers a lot. I have the paperback and Kindle Fire edition of this text. Matt Doyle does an excellent job detailing what you need to know about PHP. If you write PHP and you do not have this book, man, you really are missing out.
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on June 21, 2014
Thoroughly and extensively covered every aspect of PHP in a clear and extremely concise manner. If you want to learn PHP by getting the perfect foundation, this is the book.
I am really hoping the author will release an updated edition soon. This book provides in-depth detail and explanation on PHP programming which is what every beginner needs.

Perfect book!
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on October 21, 2013
I'm reading the book chapter by chapter, working with the (few) exercises that came at the end of the chapter.

I find the book complete, at least as far as I have read it. It explains PHP from the beginning, so even if you don't have that much programming background, you can understand it.
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