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173 of 176 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning PHP Not Beginning Programming
[Updated for Second Edition]
A beginning PHP book, not a beginning programming book. The subtitle, 'From Novice to Professional', can be a tad misleading for the novice coder. A beginning programming book covers a lot of material that this book assumes the reader already understands. Many software books include a 'Who Is This Book For' section that offers some...
Published on June 17, 2005 by David Stapleton

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good info, but not ideal for beginners
I read this book primarily to gain a better understanding of the new features available in PHP 5, and in many cases this book excelled in that aspect. Particularly, I felt the chapters on object-oriented programming were the most valuable. On the other hand, I was somewhat disappointed that the author didn't cover the new MySQLi extension for use with MySQL 4.1, as I...
Published on May 11, 2005 by Scott


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173 of 176 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning PHP Not Beginning Programming, June 17, 2005
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
[Updated for Second Edition]
A beginning PHP book, not a beginning programming book. The subtitle, 'From Novice to Professional', can be a tad misleading for the novice coder. A beginning programming book covers a lot of material that this book assumes the reader already understands. Many software books include a 'Who Is This Book For' section that offers some guidance on the suitable reader knowledge level, not this one.

That said, I found this book to be very helpful. The sections on installing and configuring Apache, PHP and MySQL certainly saved me many hours of reading the online documentation and tweaking of settings while setting up my local test bed. That, in itself, made me a very happy camper. The author goes on to cover the various aspects from the basics of the PHP language and class libraries to topics like Authentication, Security, Session Handlers and eMail functionality that help anyone new to PHP setup some fairly sophisticated site capabilities.

The second edition has been supplemented with an added 200 pages, including a new section on PEAR (PHP Extension and Application Repository). This is a wealth of prewritten classes and packages that can be used to add even more sophisticated functionality to the novice's web development toolbox. The author demonstrates several of the more prominent packages.

The second edition has greatly beefed up with additional coverage of MySQL 5, including chapters on stored procedures, triggers and the PHP mysqli extension (all missed in the first edition). Most of the examples offered are clean and general enough to be useful templates for the reader's tailoring.

My suggestion for novices to PHP is read through chapter 9, then skip to the various sections that solve specific problems being faced or are of particular interest, including installing and configuring your local test bed.

Bottom line, the first edition was a good book for intermediate to veteran programmers looking for a quick tutorial on PHP (circa version 5.0); the second edition is even better. Novice programmers should ensure that they have a full understanding of the basics of programming (and OOP) before attempting it. I would now use this book to teach a class on PHP.
P-)
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent "Let's Do It" Tutorial, December 13, 2004
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This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
I reach for this book when I want to get up to speed on something about PHP 5 quickly. With it, I can start coding and seeing results right away. The book covers a range of topics, the practicality of which can be best appreciated when you are faced with a real life project. For example, pp. 660-665 in Chapter 27, "Practical Database Queries", covers creating paged output (that is, spreading query results across several web pages) and listing page numbers which was just the thing I wanted to learn last night. My wife's database needs that sort of output. You can download Gilmore's example code and quickly start using it and then applying the lessons learned to build your own code.

This book is geared to people who want to get their hands on real code, wring the juice from it, make mistakes with it, learn all they can from it, and then tap out fresh code that does the same things with a little more oomph. Such people do not like long, dreary tracts of reading before being able participate in the elusive action. It is a good learning format because the only useful way to learn programming is to dive right in and do it. The book is a blend of brief discussion and quick code snippets with the expected results shown right away. This is a very good way to learn programming.

The section on SOAP, starting on page 450, makes me realize I had better experiment with this interesting technology. I'd certainly like to be able to find the temperature for a given postal code -- and other things of greater interest. Chapters 12, "PHP Authentication", 14, "Networking With PHP", and 15, "PHP and LDAP", look into core internet services that every programmer should know how to exploit, but too often don't. For example I've learned how to authenticate a user with LDAP.

The author, W. Jason Gilmore, is cheerful and most helpful in his responses to reader inquiries. He responded quickly to my questions and I am impressed with his ability to courteously point me in the right direction.

Be sure to download Gilmore's example code. There are 30 chapters worth of programming stuffed into that zip file.

The book has a few rough edges. The most obvious is that some sentences are a little wordy. That's all right, you can move on to the next paragraphs, and will soon be trying out a new example. I wish Jason had discussed MySQL 4.1 and the mysqli interface, especially since there are other books around that cover MySQL 4.0.x. Perhaps if he had added another chapter to cover that? We can always look forward to a second edition.

This book should be near every serious programmer's desk. You, dear reader, will reach for it a surprising amount of the time.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5+ stars for PHP sections, 4 for MySQL section, July 20, 2004
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
I am always skeptical when a book claims to be able to take someone from novice level to professional or even to serve the needs of both the novice and professional. If it is written for the novice then it is too basic for the professional. If it is written for the professional then it is too technical for the novice. "Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional" is one of the very few books that lives up to its claim.

It is written in a highly readable style and organized in such a way that the professional can easily skip over the basic stuff and get right to what they need. Yet the novice can work through the book and soon become quite proficient. Areas covered in the PHP section of the book include installing and configuring PHP5, using variables, flow control, arrays, advanced OOP, error handling, expressions, forms, authentication, networking, and LDAP. Areas covered in the MySQL section include installation and configuration, table structures, and database queries.

For such a large book it contains almost no filler information. Every page contains useful information, the examples are appropriate and detailed, and descriptions are clear and useful. Author W. Jason Gilmore has a rare and wonderful talent for taking the complex and describing it in a simple, easy to understand manner so that anyone at any level can understand how to do it.

"Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional" is a book you will want to have if you currently work with PHP or plan to in the near future. It is not only highly recommended but is the best book I've seen on PHP and I will be clearing some space off my book shelf for it since it easily replaces three or four of my favorite ones. I will have to note that the section on MySQL does not cover that subject anywhere nearly as well as the book covers PHP. Buy the book, read it, and keep it for the PHP section. For MySQL try "The Definitive Guide to MySQL, Second Edition" also from Apress.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best PHP Book Yet, June 11, 2005
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
PHP books often claim to be applicable to an absolute beginner to the professional, yet many fail to live up to this claim, except for this book. The word "beginner" doesn't mean someone who has no knowledge of html, or no knowledge of programming in general, but rather someone who knows a bit of html and maybe basic or c++ and would like to venture into the online programming world. So if you at least know that, then this book will be on your level.

What sets this book apart from the rest is a few things. First, the examples are short and to the point. There aren't pages and pages of code, where only a select portion of it is explained. Rather, Jason introduces a function and then provides a small example to explain it. Also, Jason is very good in his examples of sticking to only things he has taught you; which means you won't find yet-to-be explained functions in his code.

The second thing that sets this book apart from the rest is how Jason introduces new PHP internal Functions and other commands. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of internal Functions and concepts in PHP and MySQL, but only a handful are used often. So every PHP/MySQL author has to determine where to draw the line at what things to discuss, and what to leave out. I've read many other PHP books and their focus is generally too broad, leaving many important functions out of their books. Not so with Jason's book. Reading through his book sometimes feels like you're reading though a PHP/MySQL manual because there are so many introduced functions and keywords, but after reading about each you instantly see how important each is. So in a nutshell, Jason introduces many more important functions than other authors, while not discussing things that you'll rarely ever use.

The third thing that sets this book above the rest is his in-depth coverage of optional/required modifiers for each function along with the various return values. For example, this is how Jason introduces filetype:

filetype()

string filetype (string filename)

Jason then explains the various return values possible like block, char, dir, etc etc. So, after you've read about a function or keyword, you come away feeling like you completely understand it. Many other PHP books will introduce a function or keyword and maybe describe a few features regarding it so when you walk away, you might wonder if it does anything else...

The fourth thing setting this book apart from the rest is Jason's explanation of Superglobals like $_GET, $_POST, etc. Many other PHP books don't even cover this! And those that do, just give a cursory overview of it. But these tools are so essential to PHP functionality that they really need to be given a proper explanation for a "beginner" learning PHP. And, only Jason's book gives that proper explanation.

Many more reasons set this book apart from others, that I could be here all day explaining them. His explanation of Object-Oriented PHP is excellent. He has chapters devoted to Regular Expressions and Working with the File and Operating System, things other books don't even cover. He discuses Authentication using PHP, something that almost anyone using PHP uses yet many PHP books don't even discuss. There are numerous other reasons why I really love this book, but I'll leave them to the reader to discover.

Though in the spirit of a good review, I do have some issues with this book. First, there are some chapters which I don't need to use, and probably never will: LDAP stuff, SOAP, SQLite, and some other stuff. This is a PHP and MySQL book, so I wish he would have ditched those chapters and discussed something that more users of PHP and MySQL can relate to.

Oh, and I should have mentioned this earlier but I just remembered it. Many, MANY, PHP books out there have an incredible amount of errors in them. In those books you'll find tons of errors in the examples, in the actual text, and in other places. But after reading all 600 pages of Jason's book, I really have to hand it to the editors. While I found an error here or there, they were few and far between. After finishing reading it, I knew that this was professionally written. Not a bunch of pages slapped together over the weekend. This is a professionally written book.

And one more compliment I can give is the way Jason talks in his book. He doesn't "talk to talk" or use fancy words in long sentances which have no practical value. In quite a few PHP books, I would get really confused after reading a paragraph or two and all it contained was words (no code)! PHP books aren't meant to contain technical writing nor feel like you're reading a section of the US Tax Code. Jason does a really good job of being direct and concise in making his points, and he's really easy to understand.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very thorough guide for programmers, October 23, 2005
By 
Brian Henk "MrSpandex" (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
As said in previous reviews, this book is NOT for those that have little/no knowlege in programming. I have had an introductory class in C++, and I understood much of what is in the book minus the object-oriented stuff. The book would be an excellent guide for those coming from PHP 4 and wanting to learn new features, as well as those experienced in at least one object oriented programming language.

Anyway, on to the actual book. The book has very little overlap in chapters, making it an extremely useful reference tool. It is not a very good book to straight up learn PHP, but rather a method to your madness. By this I mean that it is more useful to read the introduction and start fiddling in PHP then referring to the book to learn new things rather than reading the book and expecting to be able to write some useful code. Although skimming the book is always good to keep the various functions of the language in the back of your mind so you know what you can do, this will probably impact you very little. There is simply too much information to memorize.

So, here are the pros and cons:

PROS
-Excellent reference
-Very thorough
-Does not meddle in basic computer programming practices/terms
-If book were memorized, you really would be a professional in
PHP with a good base for other languages

CONS
-Does not meddle in basic computer programming practices/terms
-Has very few extended examples, mostly small scripts to do
something trivial
-Spends about 1/5 on concept, 4/5 on syntax and functions
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best PHP/MySQL Book I've Read, October 11, 2004
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
I have been learning PHP/MySQL so I can program a web-based application that I am working on. I have read through a number of PHP/MySQL books and their sample codes and found this book to be the best by far. This book is great if you know even just the basics of HTML. If you want to learn how to create a MySQL database and use PHP to integrate your database with your web site then this is the one book to own. The author also covers helpful topics such as object oriented programming, SMARTY, function classes and other key sub-topics that help make a programmer's life much easier. I have compared the solutions in this book to others and have found this book to have far superior code. In fact, I am customizing code directly from the companion web site right after reading the book. Here's an example of how much more is in this book than in others: Most other books show you how to display on your web page a list of records pulled from your MySQL database using PHP. While most other books provide little additional detail from there, this book goes on to show you exactly how to add clickable links to each record line, break the list of records into multiple pages and put clickable page numbers at the bottom of each page that link to the pages. The bottom line is that the author helps you create all the cool stuff you see on other web sites that you wish you had on yours.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive PHP book with good examples, January 19, 2005
By 
HL (SF Bay area, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
I have several PHP books and if I had to choose one..this would be it.

Every PHP book is going to assume a certain amount of prior knowledge from its reader. If it assumes the reader is completely new then it probably won't be as deep.

Gilmore's book does assume some knowledge, but not a huge amount, and still takes you into the more extensive features of PHP. Most people new to PHP will often receive the advice to go to PHP.net. While that's not bad advice, new PHP programmers usually find it more help as a reference guide instead of a learning tool. I personally find it assumes more knowledge than this book.

Specifically, Gilmore's book has a good emphasis on secure PHP programming throughout (and a chapter specifically about it). When exposing the workings of a function or code snippet, he'll often show how the code could be misused and what the remedy is. Many times it is downright frightening what a nefarious individual can do if secure programming techniques aren't employed. This book opened my eyes to potential problems and, better yet, their solutions.

The writing style and organization are excellent. It's what you'd expect from a programmer and he doesn't let you down. For example, in the Arrays chapter there will be subheadings that sort the array functions by use -- such as "Sorting Arrays", "Determining Array Size and Uniqueness", "Transversing Arrays", etc. The examples are practical and useful. They don't introduce techniques or functions that he hasn't shown yet.

The book also has a very nice coding style. It's understandable, clean and concise. It doesn't rely on outside classes or libraries. I have another PHP book that unfortunately relies on using PEAR in a lot of examples-which detracts from its quality.

There is also a helpful section on PHP's configuration directives. It lists in an orderly fashion the configuration options, what they mean, the default values and the scope (how they can be changed). Whether you're programming on a local or remote server, it's helpful to know what these options are, their default and how they can be changed.

There is also an excellent exposition of PHP's new object model. There are two chapters on OOP and it seems quite comprehensive (haven't quite finished them yet).

The support from the author is fantastic. I had a question on one section and the author quickly (within a couple hours)and cheerfully answered my question. He also encouraged me to send him any other questions I have.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in PHP programming. If you're a complete beginner I'd also recommend "PHP-your visual blueprint for creating open source, server-side content" in ADDITION (not instead of) Gilmore's book. The PHP visual blueprint book is a little out of date on a few sections (there will be a new version pretty soon) and nowhere near as deep but it could be helpful for someone having problems on the basics. Good luck everyone.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, September 7, 2004
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
I can summarize this review in nine words. If you want to learn PHP, buy this book. But that wouldn't be much of a review now would it. Jason Gilmore starts this book the way most beginner's books start; with some history. But hold on tight because it doesn't take long before your hands start getting dirty.

After the brief history the book jumps right into installing and configuration then blasts right into PHP basic; syntax, tags, data types. Then it's not long before you are writing functions, using arrays, and then one of the most updated features of PHP 5, OOP. The book keeps moving right along into advanced features like error handling, regular expressions, and networking. And just when you think you have learned it all and you couldn't possibly think of anything else you could do with PHP, the book throws MySQL into the mix. By the end of this book you should have no problems writing PHP and MySQL enabled web pages and applications.

This book is a perfect mix of what someone new to PHP needs to know as well as providing advanced material and a reference once you have a grasp of the basics. So to summarize, if you want to learn PHP, buy this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Novice to Finished Project" Ahead of Schedule, March 9, 2005
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
Prior to purchasing this book I had some web design experience, as well as some programming experience from years ago. Then recently I took a programming course based around Java, and in November successfully bid for a web project which I knew would need a database and some dynamic web pages. After a little research I decided that the PHP/MySQL combination would suit, and then I browsed Amazon for a suitable book to get me started.

I can honestly say that Jason Gilmore's "From Novice to Professional" book has been an excellent investment for me. The learning curve was nowhere near as steep as I was anticipating, and it got me from "novice to finished project" a month ahead of schedule. I'm not saying that I didn't have to source a certain amount of information elsewhere - mainly from web forums - but Jason's book was the mainstay of my reference material. Not only that, but during testing of the project I ran in to one major problem that I could not find the answer to anywhere. One email to Jason and he was good enough to reply within twenty minutes with a working solution. This turned out to be a significant added value to my investment in the book.

I found the book to be well written and the sample code to amply demonstrate the points being made. Unlike some people who seem to only look for "real world" examples I would much rather see concise code that directly demonstrates the concepts under consideration than a "real world" example that may never bear any relevance to what I want to achieve. This book gives me such concise examples. In addition it does also provide a number of real world examples that have also proved useful. For example I duplicated the MySQL database class quite early on in my project and that has definitely saved me considerable subsequent work and given me a more robust site.

The structure of the book is both good for reading in sequence and for dipping back into as reference material. Although I have now had to source more advanced material to move on to the next level, I still keep this book to hand and refer back to it regularly.

I thoroughly recommend this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good info, but not ideal for beginners, May 11, 2005
By 
Scott (OH United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional (Paperback)
I read this book primarily to gain a better understanding of the new features available in PHP 5, and in many cases this book excelled in that aspect. Particularly, I felt the chapters on object-oriented programming were the most valuable. On the other hand, I was somewhat disappointed that the author didn't cover the new MySQLi extension for use with MySQL 4.1, as I felt that this was another prominent upgrade in PHP.

This book does cover some topics that many PHP authors tend to skip. Some examples of these include Templating with Smarty, LDAP, and RSS. If any of these topics interest you, or if you're looking for a solid reference on object-oriented programming in PHP 5, then I highly recommend this book. As an introduction to PHP, however, I'd have to say this isn't the book you're looking for. Part of the reason I make this statement is the order of the topics. For example, MySQL isn't even introduced until the end of the book, long after more advanced topics are covered. It seems to me that someone learning PHP should learn about basic database interaction long before they have any interest in advanced networking functions, or creating a SOAP server. Additionally, I would expect a "Beginning" book to contain more practical examples and sample projects (just my opinion).

Overall, I'll give this book a rating of 3 stars. While I enjoyed the authors tone and writing style in general, the content, order of topics, and misleading title left me a bit disappointed. I have had better luck with other Apress books.
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Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional
Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional by W Jason Gilmore (Paperback - June 20, 2004)
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