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PHP in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference Paperback – October 20, 2005

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PHP in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference + MySQL in a Nutshell (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)) + Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Websites
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596100671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596100674
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...there is no unnecessary waffle, but plenty of code to get your teeth into. It's a desktop guide for quick reference, so not all your queries will be answered, but it will certainly point you in the right direction. An indispensable guide to PHP programming." .net, May 2006

About the Author

Paul Hudson, an avid PHP programmer, is Deputy Editor of the popular European Linux journal Linux Format, and author of the publication's PHP tutorial section. He is the author of Fedora 4 Unleashed and of the online book Practical PHP Programming available at

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Customer Reviews

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This is a great reference for beginning and advanced PHP programmers alike.
M. Marshall
That said, this book is an invaluable aid, complementing the online PHP manual as a useful, concise reference guide.
D. Graham
Well written, and a nice size that is easy to digest, I found this book to be a pleasure throughout.
Dan McKinnon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Brett Merkey on November 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This PHP reference has some extras I liked. It is always good to have a portable and compact programming statement reference at hand. It is even better to have one that goes into more detail where that extra background may be of value. The chapter on the object-oriented programming support in PHP 5 is one of those extras.

I also appreciate the chapters on creating Flash and PDF and the tips on server performance optimization.

PHP in a Nutshell falls far short of adequate in one respect -- the index. A reference should provide a way to find information without having an exact knowledge of the information you are looking for.

As a relative newcomer to PHP, I gave the book's index a good workout. A typical session would go like this: After getting my simple form application running, I noticed that the return from the database was not case-insensitive. I knew I could massage the value to the server with JavaScript, but was there an equivalent PHP statement? I went to the book index. "Case switching" -- no, that is about a conditional. "Case-sensitivity, variables" -- no, that is not about user input values. Finally, after other failed guesses, I recalled from JavaScript that such a function, if it existed, worked on strings. I look up "strings" and move down the sub-indexing to my goal: strtolower() function.

Success, yes, but unnecessarily delayed. I would fault this book for that and knock down my rating except for the fact that the index is no worse than the typical computer book index. Decent indexing, and even full-text searches on books, are distant hopes as ever.

Despite my occasional rant on book indexing, this book will be kept in a handy place as I continue forward in my progress in coding PHP.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Travis Parks on June 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I purchase a Nutshell book from O'reilly, I anticipate a very formal, detailed overview of a language and an in-depth coverage of that language's standardized libraries and features. PHP in a Nutshell is very lax with informal explainations and coverage. I am not saying that the book lacks information; it just lacks the typical detail of a usual Nutshell book. This book also has simple errors that should have been caught if the author had reviewed his own work; this is simply unexceptable. I, today, counted over 4 simple mistakes on the chapter about operators. This is something unheard of from O'reilly. I have been programming with PHP for a while now and was hoping to find a definitive reference ... well, this isn't it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rob Wehrli on January 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is a bit more difficult to find what you want in the index than absolutely desired, but it is also the price we pay for a low-cost, desktop reference.

I too am relatively new to PHP. I've dabbled a bit with it over the past few years, but recently started to write my first "major" web-centric application using it and MySQL. I can definitely say that PHP In A Nutshell has not let me down! I've been avoiding learning "yet another programming language," but PHP In A Nutshell has given me the ability to jump into it without needlessly wasting my time.

The author's writing style is very easy to embrace, which makes reading this book a breeze. The author clearly knows PHP very well and provides many, many resourceful nuggets of experience in the paragraphical excursion through this insightful book. It "reads" well and "references" well-enough.

While this book may not be the best tutorial for a total newcomer to programming languages, for anyone with experience in any modern programming language, it should be very easily read and received. How much of this is the writer's style versus O'Reilly's "common sense in book layout?" I'm not sure, but the two blend together well to make a fine wine in PHP In A Nutshell.

The section on databases is well worth the asking price, but I found way more than that to be of real, immediate value to my "emerging" PHP skills. However, perhaps like the other reviewer, I'd like to have a nice little appendix that contrasts the "C" or "Java" way of doing something to the PHP way of doing it as an added benefit that would negate the need for a massive index. Indexing is nearly a lost art today, it seems...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hargun Khanna on July 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am pretty familiar with PHP and worked with it some time ago, but I needed a book to quickly refresh my knowledge of it for a project, and this book did a pretty good job of that. It gets to the point on the right topics (including chapters on OOP, Cookies and Sessions, and Databases) and has a short, useful function reference instead of listing every function under the sun.

Nonetheless, there are many errors both in the code and in the writing. If you don't have a solid foundation in PHP and programming, these errors can really throw you off. Sometimes I would get confused as I tried to figure out why a line of code does what the author says it does only to realize it was an error that made it into print. If the editing had been better and caught these errors, the book would have received a four-star rating from me.

Bottom line, if you know PHP and need a good reference book or a book to quickly review concepts and functions, this book is for you. Don't buy this book if you are new to PHP.
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