Customer Reviews: Zend PHP Certification Study Guide
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on December 18, 2004
I've been using php since 1998 and now php software development is the primary focus of my business. This book is written by many well known experienced php developers and is a study guide for the php certification test which is also written by many of the same authors.

Because of the php knowledge held by the authors, I expected it to be fairly in depth and accurate and perhaps it could teach me a few odd things. At the same time I wanted to see if this PHP certification was something I should be looking for when my business hires future php developers.

I have to give this book the lowest rating available simply because it is so ridiculously riddled with mistakes. I expect technical books to have a few errors in them but I was often finding one or more errors on every page. Barely into the 4th chapter I tossed the book out when not only did they have a mistaken output code but now they went on to explain why it printed out that output even though php could of never given that output from their example code (regardless of version).

If it was just the type or cut 'n paste type errors I would of over looked them and knocked my review only down to two stars but to see them describing something that is incorrect php behaviour (they do it right in the very next sentence for a different section of the same example so they know the behaviour, but why would they describe it wrong in an earlier section of the same example)

These developers do know php well so I am stumped at the poor quality of this book. I'm wondering if this thing even proof read or just translated from another language by non-programmers?

Some people will want to know the errors and there are too many to list them all but an example of small errors is the very first chapter ends with 3 exam prep questions of which 2 have errors in the ending descriptions as to why an answer is right. The first one has the line "(the remainder of the division of 5 by 2)" when it should be 5 by 3. The third question in the description says increment instead of decrement.

These two examples of mistakes are small however and only annoying though most of these should of been easily caught. Where I lost faith in the technical aspects of the book was at the beginning of chapter 4.

Here they start to describing how php handles array keys. They start with example code along with the output code from the example code and then go on to describe how php behaves in a specific situation (converting "numerical" string keys into integers). Their output code printed is wrong as the very first key would of been an integer and not a string as they printed it.

I figured this was just another small mistake but then they go on in the description as to why it outputs this code taking you through each key. The first key they again say it will keep the string value of "1" as the key (which is wrong). Then in the very next sentence they explain why the second key is converted from a string to an integer because of one of php's behaviours to convert numeric strings to integers (though they left out that this behaviour only happens to the keys when you are creating arrays, not the values). This means they know this behaviour but obviously missed it in the first key as it was also a numeric string and would of been converted to an integer as well.

It was obvious they wrote the output code by hand rather than actually running it and in doing so made a mistake in it which could of been easily prevented. What bothered me is that they then go on and describe why it output this code, even though php could not of output this code from their example. It is as if the writer of this section didn't know why the first key came out as a string so they just repeated as they were in a hurry to show the second key as their big example of insight missing the fact the first key they rushed over should of been the exact same example.

After seeing this level of lack of attention to detail spent in this book I lost all respect for the book. I also lost faith in the level of detail the same authors would of put into their Zend PHP Certification test.

With the book being my only guide to the quality of the certification test, as an owner of a software development business I will NOT put applicants for php programmers that have Zend PHP certification above any other applicant until I have reason to believe otherwise.

The current edition of my book I would not even give away but all is not lost as I have already found a good use for it. When hiring other php developers I will give this book to an applicant during an interview and let them read any two random pages and have them tell me where the mistakes are in the code or descriptions of the code. If they know php well enough to quickly see these types of errors, then this is perhaps the best test of all to see their deeper understanding of php.
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on October 28, 2004
Let's be blunt, Assume you are hiring someone to oversee your PHP system and have it narrowed down to two candidates. One of the candidates says, "Oh yeah, I know all about PHP." The other candidate says, "Oh yeah, I know all about PHP, I've passed the Zend certification exam." Your next question is likely to be "What's Zend Certification?" And the job candidate says, "A PHP specialist company, you can learn more about them at" After that, all other things being equal, the certified candidate is the one you're likely to hire.

This book is not the one I'd pick to learn PHP. There are others better suited. But to pass the Zend certification exam, this is the one. It tells you specifically what you need to know, has a sample exam and doesn't cost very much. What more can you want?
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on May 8, 2005
This book will really help get your mind geared toward the exam, but don't think that you'll be ready just by reading this book. The breakdown of topics by chapter are a great way to get familiar with the exam subjects. I read every word on every page about 3 times, and while it helped for the test, it wasn't 100% inclusive of the material you'll be expected to know. Get the practice exam book, and spend some serious time with the relevant sections of the php manual online, writing code trying out questions you don't understand/ got wrong, and going through the php-recommended.ini file that is distributed with PHP 4.*. Of course, programming experience will be helpful, but many of the subjects are in areas that you might not used on a daily basis, especially to the knowledge level you'll need for the exam.

Good luck!
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on February 5, 2006
Coming from "The PHP Company", I fully expected this book to be "up-to-snuff" on everything it covered. I was sadly mistaken.

I barely made it past the third page of the first chapter, and I had to shelf it. The technical errors, the grammatical errors (I know, I'm not perfect), and the cheesey analogies all made it a very uncomfortable experience.

As another reviewer mentioned, this book needs to be updated to reflect the errata and such. I'm very displeased with it, and I will be sharing my opinion with Zend.
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on August 9, 2007
this is a good book, good review of the php4 language, but useless if you want to get a PHP5 certification.

I buy the book cause i want to make the certification on PHP5 so i wasted my money...

Could help if the title of the book specify the language version.
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on April 22, 2006
I just took and passed the the test today and read this book cover to cover twice. I think it is a great book, but it seemed that the book's questions were a lot harder then the exams.
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on September 27, 2004
This book is filled with errors so it is not a good book for learning PHP, but that is not it's purpose. If you have experience coding PHP this book will give you a good overview of topics that may appear on the Zend Certification Exam and a good indication of subjects you may need to study further. Good Luck!
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on May 19, 2013
I love PHP and this book is teaching me some things about PHP that I do not know. But it is a little hard to read, like a text book. If you just want to learn PHP there are much better out there. However, I want to get certified, Zend classes are terribly expensive, and this book does explain what you need to know to get ready for the exam.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon December 14, 2004
Sun, Oracle and other companies offer certification of skills in their products. Now, Zend Technologies seeks to do likewise with PHP programming. The twist being that here, they do not own PHP. But along with their exams, they offer this slim book.

It expects you to already have been coding in PHP. If this applies to you, then you should find the book a breeze. Each chapter gives a synopsis of an aspect of PHP. Followed by 5 or 6 questions on it. The questions are of moderate difficulty. Mostly mutiple choice. Which probably reflects the format of most questions on the actual exams. There is an occasional question which might require you to design or write code.

What I am unclear about is how well known Zend is. For Sun and Oracle, who certify in their proprietary products, there is a natural home base advantage to doing so, that many others can recognise. If you want to get some certification in PHP, you need to check around to see if you'd consider that Zend is sufficiently credible for you to invest in the exam [and this book].
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on August 24, 2005
The "Zend PHP Certification Study Guide" is the perfect book for those wanting to take, and pass the "Zend PHP Certification Exam".
Relatively new to PHP myself, I found the majority of this book useful. With a "Terms You'll Need To Understand" and a "Techniques You'll Need To Master" section at the start of each chapter, the areas you are expected to know for the exam is explained. Also, with "Exam Prep Questions" at the end of each chapter, you are given a chance to put what you've just learned into practice.
Although it covers the basics, I would not recommend this to anyone wanting to learn PHP. The book, as stated in the Introduction " not a PHP development tutorial or a reference book on the language and its extensions.", so those with no experience in PHP that are looking to take the exam should seek to learn the basics elsewhere before buying this book.
Wanting to take the exam doesn't have to be the only reason to purchase this book. It serves as a useful reminder to those out of practice, and may even teach you a few new things you've yet to discover about PHP. There is no doubt however, that this guide is invaluable to those looking to get certified. And written by those who write the exam questions, who's to argue with that?
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