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3.3 out of 5 stars
PHP 5 Social Networking
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The idea was exciting to me. Building a web application from scratch using the MVC design pattern sounded like an awesome learning opportunity. Most PHP material related to MVC only covers existing frameworks (Yii, Zend, Cake, etc), and there isn't much out there for folks who want to learn how to implement MVC from the ground up with PHP.

Unfortunately, this book has some pretty severe editing problems it seems. Here is a comment that was posted on the authors blog post about his book:

" ...The ebook I am reading also doesn't really tell you what you should name your files and were you should put them, it says something like, let's create the registry object, and then jumps straight into the source. I have this wonderful folder structure created in chapter 1, but where in the folder structure does this object belong?... "

The author replies:

"... while it _was_ the case that some file names and paths were missed off, this was only from the first drafts (which were released to the RAW programme), the final version should have all of these corrected..."

So, according to the author, the complaints about "missing code" pertained to an early edition of the book, and these issues should be fixed in the final release. However, it doesn't seem that it turned out that way. Here are some more comments from that same post:

"Michael: I sent you an e-mail about this book. In an earlier reply of yours to Mitch you stated that the problems he mentioned (ie: no filenames) were present in the RAW version but would be fixed in the final version. My printed copy that I bought from Amazon.com contains those same errors and also when looking at the downloadable code the book seems to be missing whole blocks of code."

"I have the same problem as bryan nelson as well... My amazon copy is also missing blocks of code and file names and all that."

"Hello, I eagerly purchased this book a week ago and am trying to work my way through it (up to ch.3) but chunks of it seem incomplete or missing... And, as many have already said, there is no instruction for what to name some of the files or where they go. I really like the ideas and strategy of this book, but with so many missing elements, it is impossible to follow along and type the code yourself with any hope of getting it to work. Even using the downloaded code, it is impossible to play around with it without the database schema. Mr. Peacock, can you please help us out?"

The author had no reply about content still missing from the final print. Furthermore, the publisher's website has no errata currently available.

To summarize, the book is missing significant content, the author has been made aware of this on his own site, and yet neither the author or publisher have stepped up to take responsibility for this mistake. They could have easily published some comprehensive errata documentation that fills in all the gaps. Instead, they have chosen to simply abandon their customers.

I personally noticed the missing content in chapter 2. There are chunks of code in the downloadable content that isn't even mentioned in the book. Therefore, I decided to stop now and return the book as there is no telling what kind of headaches and confusion are waiting in the later chapters.

I gave the book 2 stars because an experienced PHP developer could probably grab some nice nuggets of information here and there. A real shame as this book really did have the potential to be a pretty awesome resource that filled void in the PHP book market.

Oh, and lastly, the code isn't formatted properly in the Kindle version, the indentations seem to have disappeared.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Short story: If you are fresh to social networks, this book will get you up and moving. It explains how to build a fully featured social network, based on a custom underlying framework. At the end of the book you will have a functional site, and know the what's what of social networks. It's very easy to follow the author, and the code is very readable. New concepts and features are introduced in a way that makes it easy for the reader to keep up.

Slightly longer story: I must admit that I'm having problems seeing the value of rolling your own MVC framework when building applications like this. The main arguments made in favor of going custom is ease of maintenance, licensing and code efficiency. I really don't buy these, as there are several good frameworks available under the BSD license, which are proven time upon time (Yii, Zend, Code Igniter, Symfony). Not only is the code maintained by teams of highly skilled developers, but also reviewed for security holes and exploits by the less good-mannered of our beloved internet. A *very* important aspect of social networking sites is security, and I feel that the book should spend more time on that subject (maybe including info on cross site scripting and related).
However, the one argument I really do see the value in is the process of learning. Writing a PHP framework is a very valuable exercise, and if you still have that on your TODO-list, this book should serve as a good guide on the way. The framework produced will allow you to keep extending and improving features after you are done with the material covered in the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book assumes you have a good grasp of both PHP and MYSQL. It is well written and easy to read. It explains each concept in detail with well commented codes. It implements the MVC method of web development and it covers everything from how to build user profile home page, send friends private messages, friend requests, add videos, create a live feed of your social network, and how to setup your social network to a live server. This book is impressive!!! 5/5.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Code for this book does not work, also the explanation are very hard to fallow since the Author is describing events and code that he actually presents afterword. There is lack of examples and lot of mistakes in the code itself. Code downloaded from the website does not work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
i am currently on page 53 in this book and up to this point i was very happy with the detail of the information. there was a few typos but a skilled php programmer would catch them and fix them with no problem. every book has a typo here or there. but now on page 53 he starts talking about url processing and jumps into a bunch of functions without telling the reader what file and what object the functions should be in. i don't know if i need a new file or object for the functions i am making or if i should be putting them in one of the files i have already made. on top of all this the functions are calling on values that do not exist in any of the current object i have made. this book needs a drastic rewrite to explicitly enplane what objects and what files the reader is working in at the time of writing the code. often the case with this writer in this book he will give great detail but leave out the one key detail that the reader needs most of the time. ex: what file i should be in? what should i name the file? should i be in the same directory? what should my object be called? i have been making websites in php and mysql for years and prior to that i had been using c#, java, c/c++ and many more. i am no noobie to programming and thought this book would be a good read. i strongly suggest that the writer remake this book and don't leave out the little details of where your writing your code. i cant see how a new php programmer would be able to follow this book. a few times he didn't tell the reader what the name of the object was till after we had completed the object. this is not how you should be explaining the creation of an object. the the user the name of the file then. then tell them the name of the object. then give them the values in the object. then give them the functions. if the writer had done this consistently on every chapter this book would be a 5 start. but right now the best i can give it is a 3 star.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Im writing this review for Packt Publishing and received a free copy of the book for doing so.

When I received word that this book was coming out, I was extremely interested in what it had to offer. The fact is that these days, entrepreneurs, startups, and investors are wanting to find the next "Facebook" application in hope of making millions. I was expecting to read a book giving a general overview of how to build a framework from scratch, but I must admit I was blown away by the details.

This book kept me interested from the opening Chapter. The book begins by giving the reader an introduction overview of Existing Social Networks and current social networking software frameworks and tools. Concluding the Chapter, the author gives justification of why you would want to build your own framework. Personally, I do not think advanced programmers would have much value in building their own framework due to the amount of time it would take to cover all of your basis (security, error handling, api, etc) and it generally would distract you from the overall vision of your application. However, if you are learning PHP and are looking for some advanced techniques, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with building your own framework (more on this in my perspective section below). The second Chapter begins with the design patterns commonly used in application frameworks and offers justification on why he is using a hybrid approach. Finally, Chapters 3 through the rest of the book go through building various aspects of the system.

PROS
- Overall does a good job of explaining what components are required to build a social networking framework
- Does a thorough job of explaining Design Patterns (Really like this)
- Covers development to production transition
- Covers basic business model strategies

CONS

- Lack of explanation of integrating security inside of the application framework
- No Unit Testing Examples

MY PERSPECTIVE

Overall, I think this is a well written book however im not sure how practical it is to use when it comes to developing a social networking platform from scratch if you are an experienced developer. As an experienced developer, you are generally concerned with speed, efficiency, and features. With the exception of Facebook, most large scale PHP applications are built on some form of framework due to the items mentioned above. Rarely will you see a business or individual build their own framework because it will be too time consuming.

However, if you are a beginner to intermediate programmer and you want to learn what it takes to build a large scale application, then this book does an outstanding job of going over the concepts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was a nice exercise in oop php, but there were a few quirks in the code that made staying on track with the book difficult, eventually too difficult to continue. I finally gave up around the 300 page mark.

The source code downloaded from the companion site was nice, but apart from a few basic functions, none of the ui's page links were present, even when viewing the author's code from the final chapters. This made it difficult to review and test the code you were working on. With a little detective work you could sometimes figure out how to build the links on your own, but in the instances those links don't work you're left wondering, did I screw the link up somehow or is there a glitch in the author's code?

Additionally, there was little depth to the explanation of the code. The author in most instances would state "what" the code was intended to do, but stated little about "how" or "why" the code worked.

The book held some valuable instruction up through the building of the registry and the first few models, views and controllers. But after that, the omission of any link structure in the views and glitches in the code made it too difficult to complete the entire project.
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on March 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
The tag line of the book "Create a powerful and dynamic social networking website in PHP by building a flexible framework" sums up pretty well the main aims of the book. It starts off by giving an introduction to social networks: the definitions, existing services and software-solutions as well as why and when you might want to develop your own (Chapter 1).

Assuming you need your own solution it then goes on with planning and designing the framework which will serve as the platform for the further development of your social network site (Chapter 2). The next chapters (Chapter 3 through 10) goes systematically through how to implement features such as registration, relationships, status stream, events, groups, API etc.

It then finishes off with discussions around deployment, security and maintenance (Chapter 12), marketing and monetizing (Chapter 13) and finally a chapter about performance - Chapter 14: Planning for growth.

My thoughts

The short version: I like the book. It's a recommended read for people wanting to learn more about extensible application frameworks suited for the web as well as examples of developing and implementing social features.

The slightly longer version: I like the fact that Michael (Peacock, I do not speak about my self in third person... usually) follows a systematic approach the whole way through and focuses on well known best practices. These includes data sanitation, MVC, design patterns and encourages the reader to just use the exapmles as inspiration and a starting point.

I would like the chapter about performance (Chapter 14: Planning for growth) to be a little more comprehensive though, but it's really more suited for several books of it own and Michael does give a nice overview of some of the options and techniques available which in turn can point the reader in possible directions for further reading.

The nitpicking: The editors should also have done a better job with the typography related to the code examples as they can be a little hard to read sometimes with lot's of linewraps etc, as well as some minor typos which sometimes can cause a little confusion.

The HTML-purist in me do feel a little bad about some of the HTML/CSS-examples though, but that's not the focus of the book.

Who it's for

The author assumes the reader knows the basics of PHP 5, OOP and preferably some knowledge regarding software design patterns but that's not required.

Sidenote: The techniques listed in this book is not limited to social networks so there are a lot of good information here about how to develop a framework in general. The "Social"-bit is just for the buzz
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on February 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure: The guys at Packt Publishing contacted me asking if I'd be interested in reviewing this book. I'm never one to pass up on a free book. This review is 100% my own opinion and a copy of this is published on my own blog.

The book guides you through the process of building a fully-featured social networking site for Dinosaur owners, complete with user profiles, a status stream, events and groups. While the book pushes itself as a `social networking' book, everything you will learn is adaptable to any type of site - the social network is simply the demo application you will build.

The book starts you off by building an MVC framework on which the rest of the application will be built upon. MVC, for those unfamiliar, stands for Model-View-Controller and is a programming style whereby your code is split into three logic sections. The Controller processes a user's request and calls the relevant models and files which will be needed. The Model handles database interaction, and the View is the template the data will be displayed in. The idea is to not have large chunks of PHP code mixed in with your HTML layout files (after all, you wouldn't include CSS in your HTML, so why big chunks of PHP logic?)

The framework itself is completely application-agnostic and can be re-used on any other web application project you have.

Michael does a great job demonstrating the best way to do a task. You learn to build your own database class for handling database interaction instead of relying on PHP's ageing mysql() class.

You also build your own templating system which allows you to simplify your views and stripping out all PHP code. From example instead of having <h1><?php echo $user->username; ?></h1> or something similar, you will use <h1>{username}</h1>. There's a big argument over the use of a templating system in PHP applications and personally I prefer using PHP code instead of some pseudo-template-language, but it's still a great piece of functionality to add into an app and it's handled perfectly.

One surprising addition to the book is Chapter 11, "Developing an API" which guides you through the implementation of an API to allow third parties to access sections of your application just like the one Facebook, Twitter and most other social sites provide. This chapter proved very useful.

The final three chapters, "Deployment, Security and Maintenance", "Marketing, SEO, User Retention and Monetization Strategies" and "Planning for Growth" all provide some great information for running a PHP site. The chapters are quite vague in their actual implementation (which is understandable as you could write an entire book on each topic) but prove to offer a wealth of useful information.

One thing I did find lacking was testing. There's no mention of unit testing which I feel would be useful on an application of this size where it could be quite easy to accidentally break a feature while altering some core files.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone with a small amount of programming experience. You'll learn a variety of good practices which you'll find useful in other web development projects. And hey, if some day people really do have pet dinosaurs, you'll have a ready-made social network for them!
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on February 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
(Full disclosure: I was provided with a free PDF of the book by the publisher for the purposes of doing a review and a version of this review appears on my blog)

I'm glad I decided to take a look at this book. It's pretty dense at 450+ pages, but it really does work you through from start to finish how to build a small social networking site in PHP. Okay, it's about dinosaurs, but let's not quibble. I'm not into long-depth book reviews, so we can talk about what I liked about this book.

First, I admired the consistency in the approach. While I may not agree with all the decisions that they've made, or the coding style (we all have our own way of wanting to do things), but the author was incredibly consistent in how they're putting things together. It's all done in OOP, with attention paid on how to build on what you've already done. I mean, let's be honest here: most web apps of any significant size (meaning more than 10 lines of code) are very rarely internally consistent. People learn how to do new things. They start to hate how they've been implementing certain features in code. They get bored and decide to try out one of these 'design patterns' they've read about.

Not here. I think this is a very valuable lesson to be learned by beginning programmers. Once you've, you know, actually built a bunch of stuff that people other than your close friends use, you learn to refactor and improve your code. Your task gets much more difficult if the application itself is internally inconsistent. Like I said, I dunno if I would've made the same decisions as them, but damn it's slick looking code that looks the same no matter what they are doing.

It was also refreshing to see some attention paid to the concept of security in a web app. Not trusting user input, not storing passwords as plaintext (they even mention using a salt for your password), stuff like that. I still have some issues with there use of using $_SESSION as a totally trusted source, but I can admit there are limits to what you can do.

It's also rare to find a book that teaches you something while you are actually building something. If you were to actually sit down and type in every single code example, my guess is that you would have 90% of a completely working site. Building upon all that stuff you've learned by following the book along, it seems to me it would be easy to get it to 100%.

Just look at the sort of stuff you learn about:

* the Model-View-Controller pattern
* creating effective templates
* proper use of a registry object
* planning of relationships between data (along with use of binded parameters in your DB queries via PDO
* post-coding tasks like deployment, SEO, and figuring out how to get data from development into production

But here's the part you were all waiting for: what did Chris not like about this book. In a word: TESTING. There are no tests for ANYTHING in here. Yes, I know the testing vs. not testing flame war is on the same level as vim vs. emacs and mac vs. pc. But damint, we're 2 years into the 21st century! Integrating tests into your application isn't difficult any more. Okay, so places like Facebook are apparently not using unit tests. You are not Facebook, so don't give me that answer as an excuse. Facebook is a perfect example of a spaghetti PHP application that grew out of control and they were able to hire some top-notch engineers to untangle it and produce an amazing application. Slam th'em all you want, I have lots of respect for the people who continue to build and extend Facebook.

So, in summary, I highly recommend that beginning to intermediate developers check out 'PHP 5 Social Networking'. It is a good example of a very cohesive application that covers a very large number of scenarios that you are pretty much guaranteed to run into. Once you've had a chance to build something like this (many functions, cohesive architecture) you can then push your skills to the next level where you learn about refactoring and Demeter's Law and all design patterns. Until then, use this book as a reference on one way to build stuff.
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