Top positive review
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Friendly and Practical Reference
on June 7, 2005
Programming books tend to fall into two categories, learn by example and reference books. If you are new to programming, it's generally easier to start learning by example suspending your knowledge of everything a language can do in favor of examining a few simple scripts to learn the basics. Once you have written a number of small scripts, a good reference book can guide you in writing more complex and functional applications.
On the spectrum of how-to vs. reference, "PHP 5: Your visual blueprint for creating open source, server-side content" falls on the near-side of reference yet is organized in a practical solution based fashion. One of about six PHP books on my bookshelf (and perhaps only second to the php.net website), I find myself referring to this book more than any other reference. It is an excellent reference for things like recalling the syntax of a loop structure to the application of a loop in processing multiple form elements.
Beyond being a solution-based reference, two things I really like about this book is the consistent two-page layout for each concept - a short description followed by code - and code shown in an actual editor window. (I'm not sure what it is about seeing screenshots of code but it seems to sink in better than code formatted in plain text on a page. Hence the Visual approach.)
If you are new to web programming and are looking to buy your first PHP book then you may be better served with a learning through sample projects approach like "Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP & MySQL" by Kevin Yank. In reviewing this book, expert programmers might scoff and say RTFM. For the rest of us somewhere along the PHP and programming learning curve, I believe this book serves as a friendly and practical reference.