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3.6 out of 5 stars8
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on June 12, 2004
David Sklar has written a book on a subject that most other PHP authors have ignored, and which many PHP programmers have failed to consider: how using pre-made, existing libraries effectively can save you hours of writing (and re-writing) PHP code.
There are many external libraries available to PHP, some under the PEAR brand ( [...] ) and others by individual authors or companies.
If you would like to automate the creation, processing and validatin of form processing, there's HTML_QuickForm. If you'd like to implement a templating system to separate presentation logic from other programming logic, there's Smarty. If you would like to setup a lightweight, yet completely usable and effective web services platform, there's the PEAR XML-RPC library.
In many of these cases, the online documentation is too complicated or technical (e.g. HTML_QuickForm) or too skimpy (PEAR XML-RPC). Enter David Sklar's book!
David uses concise, clear language with plenty of examples to explain how a certain library works. He goes through it step-by-step, first with a paragraph of descriptive text, then with a snippet of code elucidating what was previously mentioned.
He manages to cover just enough ground to enable you to grasp how to use a certain library without boring you to tears with extraneous, non-essential information.
If you would like to avoid re-inventing the wheel and the introduction of bugs (that almost always follows the insertion of new, untested code), I suggest you procure a copy of Essential PHP Tools today, and read it cover-to-cover!
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on June 27, 2004
The PHP world is full of great add-ons, modules and tools available for free on the Internet. Unfortunately, many of them lack quality documentation. If you already have a decent understanding of PHP and want to expand your arsenal this book is for you. Take a look at the TOC and you will find plenty of useful material, from portable database connectivity, to SOAP, XML and much more. Each chapter is self-containing, no linear reading is required and you can safely skip something or jump across different topics. I hope to see more books like this; there are many little software gems out there that deserve this kind of treatment
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If you are using PHP with your web applications you will want a copy of "Essential PHP Tools". Author David Sklar has gathered together tools to resolve some of the most common problems of PHP. If you want to do authentication you don't have to hand write the code, a free tool is available. Unfortunately many of the best free tools for PHP also have minimal documentation. David Sklar resolves this problem by providing excellent documentation for each of the tools mentioned in the book. Some of these include tools for accessing databases (using both the DB and ADODB methods), generating and processing forms, templating, XML parsing, sending mail, authentication, working with users and passwords, debugging, caching, and optimizing. The tools are easy to find and useful, the documentation excellent, and the writing style easy to follow. All this makes "Essential PHP Tools" a highly recommended book for anyone using PHP on their webserver.
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on November 3, 2004
This book does alert you to many useful modues, extensions and accelerators and given that many of these are open source and their documentation can be skimpy, it's good to have examples and documentation from another source.

However, this book is not comprehensive in it's coverage of said modules, extensions and accelerators and in areas where it covers material already explained in the documentation, I preferred the original documentation's style and explanations. The book does mention things that the original documention does not, but the original documentation talks about things that the book does not.

In short, I had to read both the documentation and the book to fully understand the code.
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on August 22, 2005
You would think that a PHP book that actually mentioned "Extensions" as part of the title would cover extensions wouldn't you? Well in the case of this book you would be wrong. The index has exactly 1 entry for 'extensions' and even that is a 1 sentence footnote! Compare that to the 45 pages devoted to the subject in George Schlossnagle's book "Advanced PHP Programming" and you can get an idea of actually how deficient this book is in this aspect.
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on February 22, 2005
I bought this book with high expectations.

It is a very good book, well written, and David Sklar really has done a good job writing it. However, I didn't find it that useful. It wasn't even remotely close to comprehensive about what it covered, and made only footnote mention of other tools that are out there.

I ended up returning it -- something I rarely do. I didn't think it was worth the money. Most of this info is available for free online anyways.
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on October 28, 2004
I have found HTML & Smarty chapter very useful. You will also find other chapter useful if you have to work on them in real life projects. Overall very practical book.
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on August 19, 2005
This is really only for advanced PHP programmers. If you are one, it maybe will render in 5 star.
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