Customer Review

517 of 546 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS BOOK! It's worth 50 STARS (if not more!), February 7, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide (Paperback)
This book is, to say the very least, the finest computer book I have read in a very, very long time. I have spent the last three months trying to learn how to use PHP and MySQL to build a website with a simple content management system, however, due to the grossly unethical practice that publishing companies have of releasing books that are filled with editing and other errors, along with authors who are completely unable to write even a simple complete sentence that may be understood by their readers, I had nearly given up. Specifically, I have already WASTED money on the following books:

Creating Interactive Websites with PHP and Web Services by Eric Rosebrock - this book crashes around page 100 - it COULD have been a good book but is filled with errors that make it unusable. The publisher, Sybex, refuses to publish a real errata sheet and the book is NOT supported on the author's web site. Isn't that nice?

PHP MySQL Website Programming: Problem - Design - Solution by Chris Lea, Mike Buzzard, Jessey White-Cinis, and Dilip Thomas. Good luck if you can get past page 30! Considering this book has been out for some time, there is NO REAL support or errata sheet for it. The "sample site" that one is allegedly able to build by working through this book is filled with questions such as "Has anyone made it all the way to the end of this book?" Need I say more? What a joke.

MySQL/PHP Database Applications, SECOND EDITION. Gosh, considering this is the SECOND edition of this book, one might think an errata sheet and other help might be available. Forget that though - Wiley gets your money, you get plastered with errors so you can't get through the book.

PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling and Laura - Another USELESS second edition. Not only does the code in this book NOT WORK but the examples that you can download doesn't match what's in the book! Not only that but, as to be expected, there is no errata sheet and the authors web site that is allegedly there to "support" this book has nothing but an advertisement for it with the promise that the "site is under development." Wonder if it will ever be "developed."

As noted, ALL of the books above are USELESS. On a fluke, I decide to try one more - Larry Ullman's PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites by Peachpit Press. While a second edition is allegedly going to be released soon: I have the first edition. To be honest, I was ABSOLUTELY AMAZED that:

1. The code in this book WORKS!
2. The book is SUPPORTED by both the publisher and the author. The author's support site for the book actually contains an extensive list of errata for the very minor errors in it (unlike ALL of the books listed above which DON'T have an errata list). Furthermore, I haven't needed to check the errata because the errors in this book are so minor.
3. The author actually ANSWERS questions to problems on his site.
4. The author is capable of explaining everything, very clearly, and yet conveys a LOT of great information.
5. This book is CHEAPER than all of the ones listed above (and yet it is the ONLY one worth spending your money on).

I have been completely feed up with the incompetent and unethical practices of so many book publishers that I was beginning to wonder if there were ANY books that really taught you how to create a dynamic website. Well, there's one - Peachpit Press. No, I don't work for them and don't know the author - I'm merely a DISGUSTED customer who is tired of spending money on useless books.

RUN, don't walk to buy this book. You will be very, very glad you did.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 30, 2007 12:32:41 PM PDT
Apchar says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2007 11:02:34 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2007 10:56:24 AM PDT
Larry Ullman says:
As the author, I can say without hesitation that I didn't write this review. I don't even know who did write it. I would never stoop so low as to ask anyone to post anything other than their honest opinion about a book. I can see how people might be cynical about an overwhelmingly-positive review like this, but that doesn't mean there's some sort of conspiracy afoot. In all modesty, from the other reviews and what I've been told directly, this is just a very good book that covers its subject better than others (in some people's minds), which is what this reviewer is saying.

Posted on Aug 11, 2007 11:46:39 PM PDT
BookMan says:
Apchar's comments are absurd and extraordinarily cynical. This review was not written by the author - I wrote it. I continue to stand by my assessment of the book - it is extremely rare to find a book, such as this one, on technology that has been so well written and that is not filled with endless errors. Both the author and the Peachpit Press should be commended for doing such a fine job. Furthermore, I also purchased and read the other books listed - my assessment of them remains the same today as it was when I wrote this review.

My shelves are lined with horrendously edited and published books on technology. If even half of them were as well written as PHP and MySQL by Mr. Ullman, I would be much wealthier today.

Posted on Oct 17, 2007 8:50:27 AM PDT
steve lam says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2008 10:07:16 AM PST
A. Coles says:
Actually I haven't tried as many php books as the reviewer but as a non-programmer who has to do stuff with PHP because the programmers where I work believe it is below them, I appreciate a book that can handhold without being patronizing - which is why I, myself, appreciate Mr. Ullman's style. And debugging is devilishly difficult for people without programming training so judge not . . .

Posted on Mar 18, 2008 4:17:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2008 4:19:52 PM PDT
clue says:
i really appreciate this review left by 'a customer'/'bookman'. i too have one of the books that he lists as being "useless" and find myself in the same position that he is in - wishing i hadn't wasted and hoping not to squander my money the next time around.

so, i will definitely be getting mr. ullman's book based largely (but not entirely) on this review. thanks!

Posted on Sep 26, 2008 6:14:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2008 6:26:14 PM PDT
I can't help but agree with the assessment about the many bad books on programming and software use that are on the marketplace. I've perused many from the public library and purchased around 15-20 myself. The problems boil down to a few issues and most books that focus on the subject of programming and software use have a little or a lot of some of these problems in them:
1. Experts do NOT necessarily make good teachers. The most highly qualified expert needs the patience of a saint, and then must have tried to teach the subject to people of all skill levels. Not many experts have to stand in front of a class and answer questions that probe and exhaust the subject. I've been in more than one college level class myself and have found the best teachers are those that have prepared small chunks of the material ahead of time with copious examples that serve to illustrate the points they need to present and then patiently field questions. Some technical experts have perhaps learned too easily on their own and have never had to slough through dull moments of non learning
2. Authors too often are driven, by the editors at a publishing house, who have a market driven need, (neophyte readers also have this expectation), for a book of over 500 pages; as a result, much of the material in the book is written in styles that are merely padded language. Little is said concisely-why give a good explanation in two pages if twenty will also seem to work? Friendly, chatty slap on the back language also too often passes in to the less than sincere, hopefully that style will eventually will fade from the market as well.
3. Bad examples or empty examples-here is the hellish nightmare heartland of technical books. Short, disconnected, endless lists of examples that are not embedded in a meaningful context. I guess this comes from using the style of math text book authors who can get away with it. The concept of a set can be defined and then illustrated with one or two short examples; move on to defining the difference of two sets, give a few short examples and move on. This style does NOT work for passing on understanding about programming languages to neophytes or beginners or maybe anyone at any level. Programming languages have to be learned in the context of a meaningful project; how else is someone new to programming going to grasp the concepts that define the language? How else except to pass over the mundane job of learning programming and move into the field of applied mathematics, advanced course work in algorithms, set theory, etc. and then move into programming. I attended a series of math classes a few years ago, that moved from elementary number manipulation to basic function theory to calculus and gained a whole new realm of understanding on the subject. I now realize that the course work did not plumb the depths of the subject; however it left me with an understanding that was completely useful and I overcame my fear of math. I'm not sure that experience could come from trying to read books by lamplight, alone, outside of the classroom and perhaps that is the real problem with the whole issue. Outside of well constructed class room settings, some of us will just not be able to approach advanced levels of programming and software use.

Posted on Jun 7, 2009 7:12:24 PM PDT
R. Dalebout says:
Yes I agree that there are many PHP/MySQL books that have typo errors for which the code will not properly execute. Such is the case with "Beginning PHP, Apache, MySQL Web Development" by Glass et al. So it's refreshing to have such comments expressed. It is helpful to receive such critiques from other readers whom have worked through the book examples such a "A Customer". Where are the editors and reviewers before the book is sent to the publisher? Larry Ullman, I hope that your new E-commerce PHP MySQL book coming out in October does not make these mistakes since I'm interested in purchasing it.
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