Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good primer on PHP 5, May 26, 2005
This review is from: Spring Into PHP 5 (Paperback)
"Spring Into PHP 5" is a primer on the latest version of the popular server-based scripting language, PHP. It is part of a new "Spring Into" series of books from Prentice Hall which intend to provide concise, fast-paced tutorials for new and developing technologies primarily for non-professionals and those professionals who need or want a quick and easy way to transition to new technology.

The author, Steven Holzner, is a prolific writer on technology, having penned 88 programming books as well as being a contributor to PC Magazine. His intent here is to make a technological topic like PHP scripting accessible, especially for novices who have little familiarity with web-related language other than HTML. He states an intent to produce "as good a book on PHP as can be". This is a good book but lacks depth and completeness and does not cover many practical uses of PHP. There is minimal discussion of security issues. There are other publications which would complement this book. The examples of PHP scripts are very simple and sometimes not practical.

The structure of the book is represented in nine chapters covering the basics of PHP for web designers. Each chapter is separately divided into "chunks" - bite-sized pieces of material - supported by examples and illustrated code snips. Each chunk is only about 1-2 pages long and is meant to be a self-contained "module", while building upon others in the book. Downloadable code examples are available at (...).

Holzner starts by briefly describing the why and how of PHP and quickly moves to installation issues. The following chapters cover the essentials of using PHP on a modest-sized website. The concepts of PHP are explained first - the terms, operations, syntax, components, and more.

Chapter 3 discusses strings and arrays. Chapter 4 covers functions. Chapter 5 and 6 show how to use PHP to control web pages, web forms and user interactivity. The usefulness of PHP for connecting to and using databases is noted.

Later chapters cover object-oriented programming, file handling, and working with databases. The final chapter skims a handful of useful aspects of PHP programming - using cookies and sessions, the ftp and mail features, and more.

Perhaps the most useful parts of the book are the two appendices. Appendix A is a listing of PHP's language elements. Appendix B is a comprehensive reference of PHP functions.

This is a rather light introduction to PHP, primarily for novices. There are useful tables of string and array functions and illustrations or examples on nearly every page. The illustrations and examples are produced in grayscale instead of full-color, but there is no need for full-color glossy production elements in a book of this type. The cost savings are reflected in the book's price - only $29.95 - less than others covering the same or similar material.
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