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Head First PHP & MySQL Paperback – January 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0596006303 ISBN-10: 0596006306 Edition: 1st

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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.

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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: 8 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

One could consider the Head First series to be comic book like.
Bob Reselman
If you are looking for a specific PHP and MySQL reference to sit on your desk, and quickly look in the index, find a term, and use it, get another book.
Picky Reader
The book starts out good but then you start to encounter code that is incorrect and that causes errors.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Picky Reader on May 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jason Semko on 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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David K. Friedman on July 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Bob Reselman on January 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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