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Head First PHP & MySQL [Paperback]

Lynn Beighley , Michael Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

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Head First PHP & MySQL Head First PHP & MySQL
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Book Description

January 1, 2009 0596006306 978-0596006303 1

If you're ready to create web pages more complex than those you can build with HTML and CSS, Head First PHP & MySQL is the ultimate learning guide to building dynamic, database-driven websites using PHP and MySQL. Packed with real-world examples, this book teaches you all the essentials of server-side programming, from the fundamentals of PHP and MySQL coding to advanced topics such as form validation, session IDs, cookies, database queries and joins, file I/O operations, content management, and more.

Head First PHP & MySQL offers the same visually rich format that's turned every title in the Head First series into a bestseller, with plenty of exercises, quizzes, puzzles, and other interactive features to help you retain what you've learned.

  • Use PHP to transform static HTML pages into dynamic web sites
  • Create and populate your own MySQL database tables, and work with data stored in files
  • Perform sophisticated MySQL queries with joins, and refine your results with LIMIT and ORDER BY
  • Use cookies and sessions to track visitors' login information and personalize the site for users
  • Protect your data from SQL injection attacks
  • Use regular expressions to validate information on forms
  • Dynamically display text based on session info and create images on the fly
  • Pull syndicated data from other sites using PHP and XML
Throughout the book, you'll build sophisticated examples -- including a mailing list, a job board, and an online dating site -- to help you learn how to harness the power of PHP and MySQL in a variety of contexts. If you're ready to build a truly dynamic website, Head First PHP & MySQL is the ideal way to get going.

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Head First PHP & MySQL + Head First HTML5 Programming: Building Web Apps with JavaScript
Price for both: $66.31

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lynn Beighley is a fiction writer stuck in a technical book writer's body. Upon discovering that technical book writing actually paid real money, she learned to accept and enjoy it. After going back to school to get a Masters in Computer Science, she worked for the acronyms NRL and LANL. Then she discovered Flash, and wrote her first bestseller. A victim of bad timing, she moved to Silicon Valley just before the great crash. She spent several years working for Yahoo! and writing other books and training courses. Finally giving in to her creative writing bent, she moved to the New York area to get an MFA in Creative Writing. Her Head First-style thesis was delivered to a packed room of professors and fellow students. It was extremely well received, and she finished her degree, finished Head First SQL, and can't wait to begin her next book.

Lynn loves traveling, cooking, and making up elaborate background stories about complete strangers. She's a little scared of clowns.

Michael Morrison is a writer, developer, toy inventor, and author of a variety of books covering topics such as Java, Web scripting, game development, and mobile devices. Some of Michael's notable writing projects include JavaScript Bible, 6th Edition (Wiley, 2006),Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours, 7th Edition (Sams Publishing, 2005), Beginning Mobile Phone Game Programming (Sams Publishing, 2004) and Java Unleashed (Sams Publishing, 1997). Michael is the intructor of several Web-based courses, including DigitalThink's Introduction to Java 2 series, JavaBeans for Programmers series, and Win32 Programming series (

In addition to his primary profession as a writer and technical consultant, Michael is the founder of Stalefish Labs (, an entertainment company specializing in games, toys, and interactive media. When not glued to his computer, skateboarding, playing hockey, or watching movies with his wife, Masheed, Michael enjoys hanging out by his koi pond.

Product Details

  • Series: Head First
  • Paperback: 814 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596006306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596006303
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 8 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Beginner's PHP and MySQL Book Out There May 18, 2009
I have been trying to learn PHP and MySQL for a couple of months now. I have read (well, started) about 4 beginner's books. I would understand a little bit of it, but then the more I got into a book, the more confused I would get. It just seemed like things were either coming at me too fast or the writing style didn't flow, at which point I stopped learning. Not so with Head First PHP & MySQL. This book I absolutely cannot put down. The style makes learning so easy and fun that I just want to keep reading it. The funny thing is, the first time I saw a Head First book, I thought the layout would hinder my learning, not help it. Boy, was I wrong.
Another great thing about this book is the flow. Most PHP and MySQL books start off with about 3-4 chapters of PHP, then 3-4 chapters of MySQL, then the rest of the book teaching you how to use the two programs together. But by the time I got to the chapters learning how to use them together, I had forgotten half the PHP from the first chapters! This book has you writing scripts using PHP AND MySQL in chapter two. but you don't feel rushed.
Let me close in describing who I think this book is good for, and who it isn't. If you are three days away from a test in these two subjects, and just need to cram to pass the class and don't care about learning, just passing, then get another book. There are books out there that have specific areas dedicated to each term (variable, array, etc) summed up on two pages. Once you learn something in this book, you will keep using it throughout the book, which is very helpful. I personally have to do things myself, more than once, to pick them up, and this book covers that perfectly, without making one second of this book boring.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I'm spoiled February 23, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
PHP is a difficult subject matter. These guys do a pretty good job of helping you understand and get the concept. Good beginner book. However, there are some problems. As stated in some of the other negative reviews, there is a lot of ambiguous text throughout the book where 'solutions' are given but no instruction is given on what to do. Occasionally there are parts where you are told "Now start coding!" with a few things left out. For example: In Chapter 9 you are told to create your first function out of already existing code. However, at some points of the lesson there is no instruction given on how to apply the 'return' statements of that function. Sure, if you're very focused you can figure it out, but when you put full trust into this book, you're constantly asking yourself "Am I supposed to do this? Is this part of the lesson? Will I turn the page and will it say 'Hey the page didn't work right? Here's why!'"

The learning format is a bit disorganized because the book is supposed to be 'rebellious' and 'fun' to read. But the constant placement of 'help comments' all over the page keeps your eyes bouncing on every page.

I've reported a few errors and for all those who do choose to buy this book...FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, ENABLE PHP ERRORS so you can catch theirs! (Not a lot, but hair-pulling errors)

Bottom Line: You WILL learn PHP
Bottom Bottom Line: You will at times STRESS learning PHP because of the book.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heads First PHP & MySQL is the way to get started! January 29, 2009
I've been a big fan of the Heads First series for a long time. The format of the Head First books is unique, engaging and effective. One could consider the Head First series to be comic book like. This is one of the series' great virtues. The interactive layout and thoughtful way illustrations are integrated to text in order to explain 'hard to get concepts' really works.

I use the series to learn and teach advanced programming topics. All the exciting things about the Heads First series shines through in PHP & MySQL.

Heads First PHP & MySQL is for beginners. There is little prerequisite knowledge required to get benefit from the book. I have learned from years of teaching and mentoring that beginners learn best when presented with information in a way that is fun and hands on. Heads First PHP & MySQL meets this requirement with no problem.

The book covers the range of topics that is standard for having a good foundation in programming in general and programming in PHP in particular. After finishing this book the reader will be able to create a data driven web site in PHP, leveraging that special relationship between the PHP programming language and the MySQL database. The reader will know why and how PHP and MySQL go hand in hand.

The book throws in some extra tidbits. For example it teaches you how to make a data drive Rss Feed. It's a good example that has real world bearing.

Again, this is a beginners book. I caution 'bosses' that while giving this book to aspiring PHP developers is a good thing to do, you should not think that the book will create production ready coders. Coding in a production environment requires experience that is beyond the scope of this work.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped me to get my first job on oDesk July 16, 2010
This was a good book. After reading this book my second application on oDesk was accepted and I completed my first web development job earning 5 out of 5 stars in all areas for the work that I did.

It is probably better to do only a few chapters carefully (following their advice in bullet number 9 to "write a lot of code") than it is to rush through the book too fast. Chapters 1 through 6 could possibly be enough for many quick jobs or small sites. You'll need chapter 7 if you are interested in keeping track of users (it covers cookies, and also HTTP authentication). Chapter 8 has good rules and guidelines on how to organize your database to avoid inconsistencies and problems.

The other chapters are: chapter 9 covers custom and string functions, chapter 10 covers regular expressions, chapter 11 covers a graphics library, and chapter 12 covers web services and syndication.

These could possibly be skipped if the reader already has a reasonably good background in programming (e.g. has taken two or three courses at the undergraduate level in software development), or does not expect that that those are necessarily needed for the task at hand.

For example, a good programmer who has learned programming fundamentals may be able to pick up how to use the GD graphics library just from the documentation that comes with PHP.

You can always come back to those chapters at a later time (after all you've got to help Owen save his dog!)

I've only done one job, so I speak here mostly from that experience. I would grant that it is quite possible that those topics in chapters 9 through 12 may come in very handy, speed things up, and improve performance for other contract jobs, interviews, or full-time positions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars PHP Me
Well written, easy read
Published 10 days ago by BluesJamJim
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a solid book. It has been the most easy to understand.
Sometimes it can feel like you are a kid in elementary school, but hey, when you are totally lost and learning, that is good. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Daniel Aranzamendi
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing at first
This was the book of choice for my Advanced Web Design. I was new to PHP when I first got this book, and honestly I felt like throwing it in the fire. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ScarletPony
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
The book it is good, but i can not use Php in my laptop!. This book is definitly for people who really are into Php... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ludwig Ramiro Betalleluz Uribe
5.0 out of 5 stars This book rocks; LAMP doesn't
I never thought too much of server-side processing until I read this book. Get yourself WAMP before you dive in and learn to use it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dork Maroney
1.0 out of 5 stars Full of Serious Errors That Render the Book Useless
Nothing like a programming book that has incorrect faulty code so when you try to use it it doesn't work. This book is fit for the fire.
Published 3 months ago by Alex
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not comprehensive
I like how the book presents the material, but I am disappointed that it does not dive deeper into hashs and arrays.
Published 4 months ago by Shaun Turner
2.0 out of 5 stars Basically an unfinished book
The concept of Head First is great, and in general O'Reilly books are excellent. That's about as much praise as I can give to this book, because really the only thing saving it... Read more
Published 4 months ago by JohnD1234
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for beginners learning php & mysql
Love the headfirst book series because it breaks down the monotony of traditional text books into simplified examples.
Great book
Published 5 months ago by duffy
4.0 out of 5 stars Great PHP
To start off, this is my first review of any book, well actually, of anything.

I have recently started a position maintaining our company's web site. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lance V. Whitted
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Head First: PHP & MYSQL
Now that I have it, and have reached mid 3rd chapter, I am very satisfied so far. I had very little knowledge if at all in PHP and Mysql and this definitely makes me feel I know alot more. I am still amazed that after 3 chapters I am able to input information into a database, and then be able... Read More
Jan 6, 2009 by D. Alon |  See all 11 posts
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