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on January 3, 2007
This is my first O'Reilly book in the "Cookbook" series. At first I thought this book would probably contain the code and instructions for building a couple of web applications such as a shopping cart or a blog engine. This isn't that book. Rather it provides the reader with code snippets that can be used as building blocks for all kinds of applications. If I had to describe this book in one sentence I would say it is as if the author took down all the "Hmm..., I wonder how that is done?" questions and created an answer key.

One thing I like about this book is that the authors don't waste the first few chapters trying to teach or give an overview of the language. Instead they hop right into the usage of the language that relates to real world stuff.

So here is a brief overview. The book covers PHP 5 and goes over many of the new and improved features. The first six chapters provide recipes for more basic subjects (strings, numbers, dates & times, arrays, variables, and functions. Again, this isn't an intro to PHP, that is another book such as Programming PHP from O'Reilly. This is that book you reach for once you have moved from PHP basics and are ready to build some real world stuff.

By chapter seven the authors are discussing classes and objects. I like using classes when coding in C++, so this is a good chapter for those who like OOP. The next nine chapters go over web stuff starting out with basic things like cookies, forms, and databases. Then the authors go into more advanced areas like session management, XML, automation and web services (REST, SOAP, Mail, FTP, LDAP, and DNS to name a few).

The next chapter [17] is on the topic of graphics. This is a cool chapter if you like to create dynamic images. Things like creating a button image on the fly, or generating charts. Graphics are great to have a knowledge of because everyone likes graphical presentation of data and this chapter can help you get there.

Chapter 18 is on security and encryption which I found rather helpful. No one wants there web application to be the link that allows data to be compromised, and this chapter deals with many of those problem areas. Chapter 19 covers localization, chapter 20 is on debugging and testing. The debugging section does a great job of getting a person setup with the tools they need to properly debug an application including creating your own exception class. This is an outstanding chapter that every programmer can appreciate since every application needs debugging.

The remaining chapters cover performance tuning, regular expressions, files, directories, command line PHP, PERL and PECL. Being a Perl guy I found it interesting to see how the authors utilized regular expressions in PHP. And the chapter on command-line PHP was outstanding; I thought the recipe for creating a PHP command shell was pretty cool.



This book is like having the answer key to most of the random questions a person comes up with when writing code. I found this book to be very useful, it will be one of those references that I keep close, and gets very little shelf time. It is a solid book. It is hard to say what parts I liked best because this is one of those books that you like and must have, but then as time goes on and you use it more and more its value grows. This is an excellent book and I would strongly recommend it the PHP users that want to move to the next level.
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on May 14, 2007
I find most technical books impossible to read from front to back. I typically just use them as reference books. Unfortuanately most techbooks aren't organized with this in mind. That's why I love the cookbook series. They tend to contain far more example code then typical programming books and are ideal reference books. The PHP Cookbook is an excellent resouce for PHP novices and experts alike. PHP Cookbook (2nd Edition) is exactly what you would expect from a O'Reilly's cookbook. Everyone reguardless of skill level will feel they hit the jackpot with this book because it has tons of sample code and examples that explain how to do just about anything imaginable in PHP.

The chapters are organized according to topic and each subsection is basicly a short how-to comprised of a problem, solution and disscussion section that explains the solution in detail. Topics include XML, form handling, database interaction, session management and a lot more. I find all O'Reilly's cookbooks to be extremely useful and PHP Cookbook is ceartainly the most useful PHP book I own.
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on December 6, 2006
This is basically an excellent book. A lot of very useful stuff. Unlike the online PHP manual, it is on this technology called a book. This comes in handy on say a NYC subway train, where you want to brush up on some PHP, or find the solution for something you are working on.

One major warning though: all the database stuff (about 20-30 percent of the book) depends on the PEAR DB class. That is a great thing to use as are many of the PEAR classes. But there is certainly great PHP code that doesn't rely on PEAR DB.

Besides the db stuff the book has great examples with strings, numbers, I/O (files and directories), dates, etc. And being that I used to be a Reptile Biologist - you got to love that Iguana. If nothing else, just buy it for the cover.
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on November 18, 2006
There is no comparison between Wrox and O'Reilly books! O'Reilly wins hands-down!

This 2nd edition of the PHP Cookbook offers real, useful, insightful information. The content is not "just recipes," but a consise approach to everyday problem solving using PHP. The organization of the book exposes this problem solving as a series of recipes that answer particular problem-domain questions. The diversity of the problem-domains accounted for in this text are amazing! If it is web or Internet related, this book probably has an answer for your most demanding PHP needs.

In the fine tradition of O'Reilly books, this text is very well presented, exceptionally well edited and organized in a manner that makes sense to the reader. It is not filled with fluff or hyperbole designed to add page count the way the thick volumes at Wrox seem to do. If you need every little thought spelled out for you, maybe you should buy a "PHP for Dummies" book. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with this excellent, well presented book that truly is "Solutions and Examples for PHP Programmers."
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on February 9, 2009
I bought about 25-30 PHP/MySQL books while learning & this was easily one of my top 5 most used. Programming PHP (Oreilly) and PHP 5 in Practice (Developer's Library) are also pretty solid. If you're ready for MySQL, replace the latter with PHP and MySQL Web Development (4th Edition, Developer's Library). I also found the Apress books fairly helpful. Definitely get the Cookbook, though. You'll reference it whenever you code.
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on September 1, 2006
(My review refers to the 2003 edition).

This book has loads of information about stuff you do on a normal basis with PHP, including XML parsing, form processing, string and array manipulation, etc. I think the book is well written and indexed with good examples, but I think you won't get much more information than the PHP user manual.

In my opinion PHP has better free user documentation than all the other languages I use on a regular basis (Java, Ruby and PERL). You can download their user manual and PEAR manual in a whole bunch of formats, including CHM, which gives you the ability to browse it like any other Windows help file (which gives you the ability to search). Most of the points in this book are covered in the same depth in the PHP user manual and you don't have to pay for it.
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on March 26, 2010
I've owned this book for about 2 years, my PhP coding experience being intermediate both before AND after reading it. It is by no means a lesson book, as implied by another person's review, but instead follows the term "cookbook" very well. A quick explanation of my review's title: "Hit AND Miss". It's mostly "hit" but there are a few aspects that left me feeling as though I was lacking in level of knowledge, something also expressed in another person's review, concerning the book's contents.

For one, for up to intermediate small issues it definitely hits the mark. The code snippets are (mostly) well-commented or explained in the surrounding paragraphs, as well as (from what I can tell) easy on server load. Some are (of course) more processor-intense than others, but that's the nature of any programming/scripting language: some stuff's simple and quick and other stuff is just downright tedious to type-out and (possibly) can become a thorn in the Server's side (forgive my pun).

The book's Problem-into-Solution format is very easy to follow, almost identical to a Q&A format. The table of contents in the book alone is far more extensive than I would ever expect from a book of this size, and it is definitely a wealth of knowledge, technique and guidelines up to a certain point.

If I had to pick one thing to complain about it would have to be some of the solutions themselves. My other complaints are nothing compared to this one. The following is based on my own personal preference and server settings/extensions, so if you have PEAR and like using it (most people do, it seems), then disregard the following.

A bunch of solutions are explained using PEAR. It's been so long since I've read up on PEAR that I've no clue of what it stands for or even if you have to install it a certain way. Be that as it may, I choose not to use frameworks of any kind most of the time. PEAR is at the top of my "do not use" list. I've seen what it can do, and I think it's great, but I want to get my hands dirty, and PEAR can really take that away. Back to it: the PEAR-based solutions more often than not come with no alternative solution. There is one I remember concerning pagination where it gives the pure-PEAR way and an alternative. However the alternative involves other PEAR extensions. The alternative is an alternative to only PEAR's "DB_Pager" class, and not a full alternative. One would need to know what the PEAR was doing (have PEAR) and alter the code to keep it PEAR-free if one were in my shoes. I've since been able to adapt it, it wasn't hard. But there are beginners out there who have poor skills at transposing (correct word?) code from classes or frameworks into something completely customized. When I started out it was the OREILLY PHP Cookbook and the OREILLY Learning PHP & MySQL books I started with, along with some guitar books for learning Christmas songs (I know, unrelated, same box though :P).

All-in-all the book is worth the price. The pros outweigh the cons almost 3 to 1. I still use this book to refresh my memory of techniques long since forgotten or fuzzy, even 2 years after I've purchased more advanced books that cover most of the same things in greater detail and moulded for greater scale. PHP as many know is very unforgiving when it comes to screw-ups, and the little things that you forget can make or break a script. I'll be keeping this book for years and years to come to dust off and refresh my memory. My website is still lacking, but heck, it's a personal website, and wouldn't be nearly as good (??? :P) as it is now without the "cookbook".
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on December 20, 2008
PHP is intended for rapid web development, and it does not take that long to get comfortable with the language itself. However, it is a fairly flexible language, which allows for several ways to do the same thing but perhaps one way is definitely better than others; it takes time to learn the best practices. With PHP, it is easy to produce spaghetti codes if you are not careful, while it is certainly possible to make very solid object-oriented systems as well. The best way to learn in the end is to read a lot of well-written codes by capable, programmers with experiences, but for a developer who needs to code tons of stuff and has pressure to meet deadlines, time is precious. That is why this book is useful.

Much of PHP is specially designed for web development, so the book includes a lot of essential topics dealing with web development: XML, security, dealing with form data, i18n and l10n, database, and so on. In software development, new releases are norm, and some topics discussing actively developed modules do show their ages at times. However, there are still a lot you can learn from the standard O'Reilly quality book, rather than collecting hodge podge of information available on the web.

If you know some other language already and have read one or two introductory PHP web development book already, this will be the most used book on the shelve about PHP. This book and the official online documentation gets you quite far. In my case this has been easily the most used PHP book.
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on April 13, 2008
This book is not for someone who doesn't know programming. If you haven't coded at all in your life and don't basic PHP syntax you need a different book.

It also isn't a full solution for your site. You can't by this book and expect it to provide a complete solution for your programming needs.

What is it. It is a collection of discrete coding examples of how to program. It's not a book of syntax. It is a book of techniques that you can learn and then use as needed on your own projects.

I haven't read this book from end to end but when I recently had my first XML project it was useful to learn my different options on how to approach the project. Next I will be working on improving security. Again it has good examples that I can use and MODIFY for my own needs.
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on November 6, 2006
Web developers might already know PHP, but this updated second edition of a classic still remains an important desk reference to solving common problems and coding obstacles. PHP is used on millions of web sites today, so its depth and applications hold many possibilities for confusion as well as opportunities for optimization choices. PHP COOKBOOK covers all angles, from processing XML and obtaining solutions to common applications problems to working with JavaScript interactions. Any professional PHP user needs this.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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