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on September 15, 2005
As the author of the book, I regret having to do this (submit a review) but it seems to be the most immediate and effective way to correct a misunderstanding. The first edition of the book is based upon PHP 4 and came out in 2003. The second edition came out in 2005 and covers PHP 5. So, the book HAS been updated, despite what other reviews incorrectly state. Just click on "All Editions" under "Product Details" to find the most recent edition of this (or any) book.
[...]
Thanks,
Larry
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on February 7, 2004
This book is, to say the very least, the finest computer book I have read in a very, very long time. I have spent the last three months trying to learn how to use PHP and MySQL to build a website with a simple content management system, however, due to the grossly unethical practice that publishing companies have of releasing books that are filled with editing and other errors, along with authors who are completely unable to write even a simple complete sentence that may be understood by their readers, I had nearly given up. Specifically, I have already WASTED money on the following books:

Creating Interactive Websites with PHP and Web Services by Eric Rosebrock - this book crashes around page 100 - it COULD have been a good book but is filled with errors that make it unusable. The publisher, Sybex, refuses to publish a real errata sheet and the book is NOT supported on the author's web site. Isn't that nice?

PHP MySQL Website Programming: Problem - Design - Solution by Chris Lea, Mike Buzzard, Jessey White-Cinis, and Dilip Thomas. Good luck if you can get past page 30! Considering this book has been out for some time, there is NO REAL support or errata sheet for it. The "sample site" that one is allegedly able to build by working through this book is filled with questions such as "Has anyone made it all the way to the end of this book?" Need I say more? What a joke.

MySQL/PHP Database Applications, SECOND EDITION. Gosh, considering this is the SECOND edition of this book, one might think an errata sheet and other help might be available. Forget that though - Wiley gets your money, you get plastered with errors so you can't get through the book.

PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling and Laura - Another USELESS second edition. Not only does the code in this book NOT WORK but the examples that you can download doesn't match what's in the book! Not only that but, as to be expected, there is no errata sheet and the authors web site that is allegedly there to "support" this book has nothing but an advertisement for it with the promise that the "site is under development." Wonder if it will ever be "developed."

As noted, ALL of the books above are USELESS. On a fluke, I decide to try one more - Larry Ullman's PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites by Peachpit Press. While a second edition is allegedly going to be released soon: I have the first edition. To be honest, I was ABSOLUTELY AMAZED that:

1. The code in this book WORKS!
2. The book is SUPPORTED by both the publisher and the author. The author's support site for the book actually contains an extensive list of errata for the very minor errors in it (unlike ALL of the books listed above which DON'T have an errata list). Furthermore, I haven't needed to check the errata because the errors in this book are so minor.
3. The author actually ANSWERS questions to problems on his site.
4. The author is capable of explaining everything, very clearly, and yet conveys a LOT of great information.
5. This book is CHEAPER than all of the ones listed above (and yet it is the ONLY one worth spending your money on).

I have been completely feed up with the incompetent and unethical practices of so many book publishers that I was beginning to wonder if there were ANY books that really taught you how to create a dynamic website. Well, there's one - Peachpit Press. No, I don't work for them and don't know the author - I'm merely a DISGUSTED customer who is tired of spending money on useless books.

RUN, don't walk to buy this book. You will be very, very glad you did.
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on June 4, 2003
I'm a newbie to both PHP and MySQL on Mac OS X. I'm learning from this book and from the PHP/MySQL for Dummies. This is the better book. It has lots of good information, clear writing, and easy to follow tutorials. The graphic display of PHP code is very easy to follow: as the author modifies scripts to teach new concepts, the new code is presented in red in the code listings. In just a few days I've gone from knowing nothing about PHP and MySQL to writing my own PHP code. If you're trying to learn how to use PHP and MySQL this is the book to get (along with the MySQL users manual).
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on March 20, 2004
This is an excellent book. This book teaches what it claims to teach amazingly well. Well done Mr. Larry.
And u know what? Larry Ullman also answers all your questions on the book's website. If u get stuck even on your first PHP script, Larry will personally help you in the forums. Now this is not what we normally get. A great book and FREE support on the website by the AUTHOR himself!!! WOW!!
Amazon should give him Book of the Year award along with Julie Meloni's "PHP Essentials".
If you are completely new to programming and you only know HTML and CSS and want to learn PHP (along with MySQL), "PHP Essentials" by Julie Meloni is the best book.
If you have some basic programming experience like JavaScript or C or any similar language, then Larry's "PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide" IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!!!.
This book does not teaches you the very basics of programming so if you are inexperienced in programming, get Julie's book... If u know a little programming, get Larry's book.
Just excellent book.
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on July 31, 2004
Not having read all of them, I can't say, unequivocally, that this is the best PHP/mySQL intro book ... but, I suspect that it is.

After reading these programming tomes for 10 years, three types of writers come to mind:

1. a developer, who took time to write a book (often characterized by weak writing skills ... and foo-bar examples, illustrating nothing more than a lack of pragmatic imagination)

2. the constant writer, who rarely (never?) develops (e.g Hello World! demos) How unimaginative?

3. a true teacher, who has taken time to gather thoughts and put effort into the presentation i.e. TEACH

Larry Ullman strikes me as "a teacher". There are lots of well-conceived, nice touches in this book ... from the example code on SAME page as the walk-through explanations ... to the bold (often red ink) type, highlighting the subject lesson ... to the paper, itself (nice for writing notes and marking it up), a lifelong habit.

This book is a much easier read than its competitor, the Welling/Thomson book ... and about 1/3 less price, too - a nice bargain. I completed it in about a week and feel much more comfortable (dare I say confident?) with PHP, now. Thank you, Larry Ullman.

I don't recall a perfect book, though this one's shortcomings are slight. I was salivating, getting to the last chapter, "eCommerce", only to be disappointed when, 10 pages from the end of the book, the author declared that he wouldn't cover order processing, advising the reader to search the internet for examples. `sorry, but I don't buy books to be told to go search the internet. After wading through what seemed like a dizzying dozen variations on login forms, I would have gladly traded a half dozen login examples for more than a ... let's wrap this book up, quickly, coverage of shopping carts and I-commerce, the meat of the matter (... to my mind). Another indication of last chapter rush: not distinguishing between orders and order items (tables).

That said, don't let my slight disappointment dissuade you from acquiring this gem ... and diving into the facinating realm of LAMP. This book is carefully conceived and executed ... and, probably "best in class" ... a GREAT value, too.

GET IT !!!
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on October 16, 2011
I enjoy scripting/programming as a hobby. I know HTML/CSS/JAVASCRIPT pretty well and have a need for learning to work with databases. I have spent too much time trying to decide what server language to use for programming and finally settled down to learning PHP (after a long battle of indecisiveness between PHP and .NET).

This book is well written and expertly explains what one needs to know to get started with PHP and MySQL.

The book assumes you know basic Web Development (HTML and CSS) and having a good understanding of javascript will certainly be helpful. The book starts off with PHP fundamentals ... then introduces MySQL fundamentals ... then SQL. It then brings it all together using PHP to work with MySQL, which is the purpose of the book.

The examples are very practical as the concepts/code that is used can be seen as general templates necessary for any database website development. If you are new to PHP and/or MySQL this book will certainly be a good tool for getting you on to the right track. I am glad I bought it.
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on May 2, 2006
Let me add my kudos to Larry Ullman and his PHP/MySQL Guide. This is a beginner's book, as others have pointed out, and Mr. Ullman is one of the very few programming writers who grasps how to write for the novice.

How many times in your life have you tried to learn something about programming, or the internet, and within 5 pages wondered "what in the h--- is he talking about?" Or had some very simple term or concept left unexplained (or insufficiently explained)? Or had some simple little practical procedure that took you hours to figure out, when all it would have taken is a single sentence? When I first started building webpages, I was utterly frustrated because I didn't know that I needed to save notepad files as "all files" to get a .html extension on them -- just the kind of thing that drives you nuts, and is totally unnecessary.

Mr. Ullman does not make this mistake. He knows exactly how to "hold your hand" so you don't lose hours doing something stupid.

This attention to detail, and attitude of user-friendliness, extends into every part of the operation. Nothing is left half-finished. The programs he gives have been scrupulously edited to insure that they actually work. The associated website is rich and well-maintained for excellent customer support. The text is well-spaced, the paper good quality, and there are more examples than you really need.

Nevertheless, he manages to get you through all the basics of PHP and MySQL in 490 pages of large half-column text. There is a certain amount of irreduceable difficulty learning any mid-level programming language, but Ullman makes it as painless as humanly possible, and even better, when you finish a chapter you actually know what you are supposed to know.

This book gets an A+ from me.

Edit, several months later.

I have finished Ullman's book and have gone on to do a lot of PHP programming. I had little trouble putting together a comprehensive CMS when I was through.

However, I have to change my rating to "four stars" after finishing the book. The section on MySQL is not nearly as good as the PHP sections, and a number of times I found I had use Google and find an online MySQL tutorial, in order to understand something.

This seems pretty silly, as MySQL is a LOT easier than PHP, especially if you have the phpMyAdmin graphic interface. The chapters on combining the two, however -- i.e., using php with MySQL -- go back to the "five star" level. I wouldn't call it "easy", but he makes it logical and understandable on a patient, step-by-step basis. The later chapters on miscellaneous subjects, such as security, are very helpful.

So, this get five stars for a php beginner and two stars for the introduction to MySQL. I would still recommend it but would also recommend an inexpensive MySQL book to go with it.
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on October 27, 2003
I've never met an author who actually answered queries to his website but Larry Ullman gave me one suggestion after another while I struggled with a problem. It took about ten replies from him before I finally got it solved. His replies were so timely the problem was resolved within a week.
As a novice PHP writer I've tried several books, most of them more expensive, but this is one of the best.
Two criticisms: there is too much detail. I'd like to fool around with one or two lines of code at a time, building it up gradually into something that really works. Ullman breaks it down pretty well, but his bites are still a bit too big for me.
The other criticism is in design. Examples of code from the book are reproduced in about four-point text, so keep your magnifying glass at the ready.
Still, if you want to make web pags like the one you're reading, you'll be able to do most of it with this book.
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on February 4, 2005
I ordered this book in a time of need: what was supposed to be someone else's project was left hanging when they transferred away, and I happened to be the next best candidate, despite knowing very little about PHP and SQL. So, I checked around, and this book was brought up on a number of occasions as a quality source of information for beginners. A few days later it was sitting on my desk, and I began thumbing through it to get a feel for it.

First of all, I was very impressed by the style of the book. The author uses visual cues to great effect, showing you how your code and the finished result should look. This promotes writing pretty, manageable code, and ensures that you get the right results (or, when you're getting an example of a common pitfall, that you messed things up properly). The author starts you off on what could be real project, and builds useful skills that you're likely to use in a variety of projects. Layers of complexity are added to this same project, with detailed and clear explanations of what you did and how it works. The introduction of SQL is done well, and ensures you've got a solid foundation in the principles of how it works before you add it to your script.

Much, much more is covered by the 'tutorial' bit of the book, and there's also a number of case-study-style projects after it. A number of common projects are built up on the assumption you've read the rest of the book and know what you're doing, and the code itself (downloadable from the author's webpage) is very useful as a starting point for your own projects. Ullman's webpage is also an exceptionally useful resource, far surpassing any other I've seen. There are regular giveaways of new books, all the code samples are collected there, there's detailed errata collected by the author himself, and most useful of all, there's a forum where the author and other readers of the book can help you with your coding struggles. I asked a few questions there and got a quick, detailed, useful response, and a good explanation of where I'd gone wrong. Help like that will normally run you $75/hr.

After reading through the book (and referring to it as necessary), I was ready to go. Over the span of three months and starting with essentially zero knowledge, I wrote two fairly large and complex scripts with the help of this book. My stumbling points were few, and the work impressed everyone who saw or used it. If you need a crash course in PHP/SQL site development, or are simply interested in a comprehensive book that'll bring you to a solid intermediate level in your PHP scripting with an SQL backend, this is an excellent choice.
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on March 26, 2012
Larry Ullman in his PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide (4th Edition) provides a well written and very detailed tutorial about how to create dynamic web pages by effectively combining PHP and MySQL. This book provides the basic knowledge of dynamic web site creation presented in an easy-to-understand, quick-to-learn, easy-to-retain style. Moreover, Larry presents the information with relevant examples which can later be used as a toolbox of reusable code for web site developers, a *huge* value-add. The crescendo of his masterpiece is the final chapter which walks the reader through creating a basic e-commerce site.

What made his book so appealing to me is that the author walks the reader through his working source code, line by line, and explains what's going on behind the scenes. He also uses repetition (but not to the point of redundancy) to help the reader retain information. The examples are clear and relevant to modern web demands. Larry provides all source code on his web site, and it works!

The code is heavily commented and can easily be adapted to current web needs as it covers relevant topics to today's web site builder's needs. The source code does not merely cover a given concept. It also provides a general style of programming specifically applicable to dynamic web site creation which will quietly help even seasoned programmers be more effective. Much more than simple code snippets, these pieces of code are full, working examples which can easily be used to develop a new web site from the ground up but are also modular so they can be dropped into an existing site.

Larry provides detailed information about the functions included in his book, and his detailed but easy-to-understand writing style is a huge value add over the technical documentation found elsewhere. He also provides plenty of references on how to access the source technical documentation so the reader can get all the nitty gritty details if he so desires.

His book is heavily cross-referenced and provides many tips and comments as a supplement to the main text.

Moreover, the book moves along a consistent, measured pace from the first chapter to the bonus appendix - yes, make sure you read the bonus appendix as it is chalked full of useful information.

The only area of improvement I can think of (and this is a very minor point) is that having a bit more sample/test data for the database for each of the examples would have been useful for more detailed testing (and hence understanding) of the examples, especially for the ecommerce example.

This was the first book I have read by Larry Ullman, and I would like to say I recognized the long hours and hard work that went into this book and really appreciate his efforts. He has made my life all that much less complicated as I can now move forward confidently to begin the process of quickly developing a complex ecommerce site. Well done.
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