Customer Reviews: Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache All in One (4th Edition)
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on November 30, 2008
In 1978, I built two Heath Kit computers so that I could better understand what a computer was and how it worked because I had been unexpectedly assigned as the project manager for automating a very large manual process. Until then, I had only a vague notion that they existed, and I knew I was in trouble. I also taught myself to program proficiently in 4 languages: FORTRAN, Basic, PASCAL, and NATURAL as well as JPL.

Since then, I have kept up with the technology on the business side and I still build all of my new computers. But I let my programming and system admin skills atrophy over the years.

A couple of weeks ago, and now 62 years old, I decided to pick up where I left off many years ago but developing a dynamic web site using Apache Server, MySQL and Access, Info Path, and PHP. I also plan to explore CGI, and evaluate the pros and cons of APS and APS.NET, but that's a different project for a couple of months from now.

I found the opening chapters of the book to be easy to follow. The open source software for Apache, MySQL, and PHP on the CD that came with the book can certainly be used effectively, but I found that newer version of all three applications were available for downloading from the Web--all free, of course--and the instructions in the book work just fine for the newer versions of the software.

I was able to install the Apache server, MySQL, and PHP on a development computer (i.e., localhost or had everything working and a basic HTML only web page developed on Dreamweaver CS4 in about an hour.

This is fine for me because I intend to use a web site hosting service and so I only need to develop and test on my local computer and then upload everything to my ISP site.

If you intend to run your own dedicated web server and you are a beginner, you will need to pick up another reference book to learn how to obtain a static IP address and set up a web server. It's not hard, but this book won't be of much help. Try one of the "Building a Web Site for Dummies" books on setting up a web server at home or work. Be careful, though, because there are several still being sold and you want to be sure you purchase the newest version. I accidentally purchased an old version and ended up having to take it back to exchange it for a newer book.

Once you are up and running, the book takes you through descriptions and projects for writing basic PHP scripts, then it shows you how to use PHP to integrate MySQL (the chapters that were of the most benefit for me), and finally it ends with how to administer the Apache server.

If you have never done any programming before, then you might find the PHP a bit daunting at first. It was easy for me because even though I haven't done any serious programming since 1982, the basics for functions, procedures, calls, declaring variables, strings, data types,et al hasn't changed much in 26 years.

The same was true for MySQL. I have had experience on the business side creating relational databases and the NATURAL language that I taught myself in 1978 was either the precursor to SQL or it was an early competitor because the MySQL query language was virtually the same as that used in NATURAL. Therefore, while I'm very rusty in my programming skills, understanding the basics in the book probably came easier for me that it would for someone who had no previous programming or query writing experience.

Not to worry thought. I was an infantry officer in the US Marine Corps in 1978 and had spent the first 10 years of my career leading Marines in combat and in infantry units. My first actual staff officer assignment at a major headquarters was the Project Officer responsible for automating the Marine Corps' officer assignment system. At that time, I had no idea what a computer was and I had no idea why the Marine Corps would assign someone like me to a technical position that obviously required expert knowledge in developing advanced custom computer software and custom outputs to optimize the assignment of all officers in the Marine Corps. Frankly, I would have preferred serving another couple of years in combat armed with only a Swiss Army Knife over working with computers.

What's my point? If you are new to programming and databases, don't let it intimidate you. If an old war horse like me can do it, you can probably do it faster and better. If you don't know a variable from a data type or the difference between functions, arrays, and objects; just stick with it and just when you think you'll never understand it, a light will come on and you'll make a big leap forward and the pieces will begin to fall into place more quickly as you make progress.

The examples in the book are easy (harder for a complete novice), but as one previous reviewer pointed out, there are a few errors in the sample code that will cause you to think that you are doing something wrong.

The key is to work through all of the examples. If you have followed the instructions precisely and you example project still doesn't work, then you have hit one of the unreported errors. I suggest you go on to the next project in the book, or take the previous review up on his offer to email you the corrections.

If you are a complete novice and don't know a web site from a construction site, then I suggest reading the "for Dummies" books for building web sites and developing web pages. There are a number of good free and inexpensive web page editors that you can use. I suggest trying out the free version to get a feel for what's involved and then deciding where you want to go from there. If you are just interested in a web site with a few personal pages on it, then high end web page editors and this book are definitely overkill. If you find that you are interested in developing more complex dynamic web sites, then this book will help you get started on the web server side and I would recommend that you consider purchasing the Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 web page editor. But be forewarned--Dreamweaver is expensive and the learning curve can be steep, so make sure that you really want to put the money and effort into web page development before you go the high end route.

I have one final comment. If you are already using Microsoft's Access database, then you may want to skip the MySQL part of the book. Integrating Access is not hard, but you'll have to download the ODBC connector for PHP (it's free) and you may have to search the Internet for a little help on how to do the integration, but it's basically the same as integrating MySQL. Since I want to use Microsoft's Info Path to cut some of my development time, I intend to use both MySQL and Access.

Enjoy the journey.
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on March 8, 2009
I was overall unimpressed with the book. I found that there was too much time on trivialities (such as the variety of string operations spread over multiple pages) that could've been on 1-2 pages with references to the official manuals.

There was also no mention at all of critically important areas such as basic SQL injection and input filtering - all of the "sample projects" in the book are pretty much wide-open to very simple injection attacks, and the book and projects provide enough of a background for beginners to build simple useful applications with absolutely no clue that they might be doing anything wrong.
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on May 14, 2009
This book is a beginner's book that requires absolutely no prior knowledge or experience in PHP/MySQL/Apache to use. I bought this book while completely new to the Linux environment. I want to point out that I used Debian and "aptitude install", so I skipped chapters 1-4. I read chapters 5-18 and glanced at chapters 19-27.

As a complete beginner to server side coding, I found this book to be everything I needed to get started with PHP and MySQL. Before I was even finished reading, I had already created 20-30 different PHP scripts apart from the examples in the book with different, but useful functions and was already developing and coding a journal web page.

The subjects in the book are definitely rudimentary in nature, but the author gives an appropriate amount of time to all subjects that helped me became far more independent a coder. This is compared to other beginner's books that tend to have far more subjects at the expensive of ample descriptions leaving me, the reader, confused. Unfortunately, this book, sometimes, falls into this trap as some sets of code require more diligence in reading than others, but never gets to the point where the code is indecipherable or full of functionality that hasn't been fleshed out or explained at all.

In the end, I found this book to be everything I needed to get started with PHP. I still keep the book handy as reference for my projects.
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on July 6, 2008
This is a solid book if your looking for information on the relationship between Apache, MySQL, and PHP. This is not a beginner's book, nor is it advanced. Rather its purpose is to explain how these three components work together, the combination of which is if not the most popular then close to the most popular basic framework used on the web. For example, all Wordpress blogs are based on the PHP, MySQL, and Apache setup. Plus, all three are free and can be easily setup on your own computer for development purposes.

If you're looking for a singular focus on one or two of the three, then you'll be disappointed. If you do not have any or very little experience with the web, then go buy a "for dummies" or an explicitly labeled "Beginners" book.

If you want to gain a solid knowledge on the Apache, MySQL, PHP framework, this book provides an excellent explanation with sufficient in-depth focus on each and how they relate to one another.
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on December 6, 2010
I took a number of "how to learn PHP/MySQL" books out of the library to see which one I liked the best, and this was by far the easiest to understand. I have a background in computer programming (not C++), and I've been doing a lot of work with website design recently, so I thought it was important to learn how PHP worked. When I tried going through other books, I found that many of them were confusing or organized in ways that didn't make sense. This one seems to me to be the best... it's set up in a good order, the examples are clear (though sometimes I need to go back to find out why some things are going on, but that's more me than the book. It's not perfect, though, some of the program examples have slight typos in them. Overall, though, it makes learning PHP easier, so that's why I decided to buy it to have for reference.

Review addendum: I was still going through the book when I wrote that review, but I've had to reduce my rating to 3 stars because, as other reviewers have pointed out, there are problems with typos in the code samples. I found a website with files I could download for correct code listings, and that has helped, but it would be nice to be able to use the book as/is.
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on November 3, 2008
I like this book overall but with one major caveat. The versions of PHP and Mysql included on the cd-rom do not work together. Specifically, the version of PHP included on the CD-ROM does not include support for the mysqli family of commands. The book gives short shrift to any problems the user might have in this area. If you can't get mysqli to work, you can't run any of the code in the second half of the book. I figured out how to create an ODBC to a mysql database in php using the ODBC commands instead, but I would like to be able to use mysqli.
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on January 28, 2009
Julie Meloni's instructional "Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache " is a well organized manual that gets you up and running quickly. The book and accompanying CD provide everything necessary to install a local Apache server, MySQL database and PHP. As a PHP beginner, I began writing scripts almost immediately. Thanks to a straightforward explanation of the basics, especially syntax, constructing error-free code has been demystified. The book lets you take web development to the next level.
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on November 29, 2009
What a wonderful and well-documented book. If you are just starting out with PHP, MySql and Apache then you have found a great starting point. The DVD covers many facets and shows you clear examples of the concepts explained.
I recommend that you start your PHP journey here.

Experienced developers can also benefit, as they will take away at least one good idea or perhaps view a project differently.

The book covers in depth many aspects of PHP, including a few that I have not used in many years. Each chapter builds on the previous and the workshops and full code examples will give you a hands on view on how the code is built.
I particularly like the paper used in the book, because it is bright. Some companies have switched to a duller paper for their own reasons.

The book starts with installation of everything software that you need to start. The book covers database design, generating images with PHP and even fine tuning Apache. The DVD lessons are short enough to remain interesting, but long enough to cover the point.
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on August 2, 2009
Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache All in One (4th Edition)

Im new to PHP and MySQL with only minimal coding experience in other web languages. I found this book an invaluable resource when developing my business' website. So many books and reference material give you blind instructions to go from A to B to C with no information as to why you're doing it and how you can use this information in any other way that the specific example they provide.
This book is happily, very different! You gain an understanding of why you're using the code provided, what it's function is and how you can use it in other ways.

I highly recommend this book to anyone setting up a dynamic webpage, anyone new to MySQL, PHP or Apache, and anyone looking to broaden their programming skills. You can't go wrong!!!
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on April 9, 2010
The book offers step by step detail for installation, setup of client/server development environment. Also, the project example is great for a beginner wanting to setup a complete web server. I abandoned my project, but that's a reflection on me, not the book. I notice it is used as a reference for projects and classroom teaching at local University of Victoria, so it is widely employed and admired for students and beginners of all kinds. I would recommend it for this type of person. Great reference and guide.
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