Some time ago, my favorite development editor, Damon Jordan, sent me an email and closed it with "Ich möchte eine Föhnwelle""I'd like a blow wave." Unfortunately, I didn't know what either a Föhnwelle or a blow wave is, so I declined. He then told me he had found this sentence in a German phrasebook he recently bought.
I was interested and had a look at some German phrasebooks. I think they are great tools to get around in a foreign country, although I personally think that some of the phrases offered just don't make sense. For instance, in one phrasebook, I found a series of pickup lines, including the ingenious "You have a beautiful personality," something that didn't work for me either in English, in German, or in any other language! Some coital guidance could also result in other problemsyou either have to remember all the things to say while you are at it, or you have to hold the phrasebook in your free hand. And, finally, "Blow waves are as dead as a pet rock," just to use another phrase.
Anyway, we were discussing phrasebooks a bit, and Damon said that he wanted to do a book series on phrasebooks. He also mentioned that he would like to team up with his and my favorite acquisitions editor, Shelley Johnston, so I was in.
While working on a concept, we found some differences between a language phrasebook and an IT phrasebook. For instance, a language phrasebook just contrasts the same sentence in two languages. However, this is not always helpful. What if you want to change the phrase a bit, for instance if you want an en vogue blow wave (an oxymoron, one might say)?
So, we tried to create a concept that contains a lot of phrases, but all of them with good explanations so that it is easy to change the code and adapt it to one's needs. This, of course, makes the "foreign language" portions of a phrase a bit longer than the phrase itself, but we think that really helps when working with the book.
I also remember one famous Monty Python sketch in which someone uses a sabotaged dictionary, so that asking for directions results in getting roughed up. Therefore, it is vitally important to get a real explanation on what is going on within the phrase.
I then wrote a series concept and a sample chapter and now, only a few months later, you hold the first phrasebook in your hands, one of hopefully many.
Something I really hate about reading computer books is when code samples are hacked into the word processor, but never tested. To avoid this, every listing is also available for download at http://php.phrasebook.org/, and the filename is part of the listing's caption for phrases longer than just a few lines. So every code does exist as a file and has actually been tested, unlike in some other books. Of course, it's an illusion that this book is 100% error-free, although we have taken several steps to come very close to that mark. Any errata, if known, will be posted to that site, too.
Another thing I really dislike with some books is that they tend to be very OS-dependent, which is really unnecessary for PHP. Some books were obviously only tested under Windows, some others only under Linux, but it is possible to make code relatively platform-independent. We have invested a lot of effort in testing the code from this book on many server platforms, including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and Solaris. Therefore, the screenshots in this book are also taken from those platforms, so you will find a healthy mixture of systems (and browsers). Ideology can be expressed with many phrases, but you won't find any of them in this book. If, however, something does only run on certain platforms (or PHP versions), it is noted in the text. Another phrase I promise you will not find in this book is anything that looks like foo, bar, baz, or any other proofs of very little imagination.
Of course, it is easy to find missing phrases in this bookPHP offers so much functionality that it is impossible to cover every aspect. Therefore, we had to select certain topics of intereststuff that is relevant in a PHP programmer's everyday work. If you think, however, that something has really been overlooked, please let me knowbut do also nominate something that should then be removed from upcoming editions of this book to make room for the new phrase(s). I am looking forward to hearing your feedback.
And now, to quote once more a phrasebook: "Bist du soweit? Da boxt der Papst""Are you ready? It's all happening there" (but literally: "There boxes the pope").
Your personal phrasemonger,