Top critical review
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Decent Beginner Book with Caveats (Beware Kindle!)
on November 11, 2010
I'm a development manager with a few other languages under his belt who is interested in getting back into some hobby coding. Specifically I'm looking to put together a FaceBook app hosted on Amazon Web Services and from my initial research PHP and MySQL appear to be the way to go.
I was disappointed with this book for three reasons. First, I got the Kindle edition and it lacks the critical source code for the examples. The publisher doesn't provide a way to download this on their site so I had to type in the examples by hand (the Kindle app doesn't allow cut and paste for obvious reasons) but I didn't have the images or the files that weren't listed out in the book.
Second, the book manages to both be too verbose and not go into enough technical depth. This may be fine for an absolute beginner but I'd guess most people have at least some programming background. It was tedious wading through chapters that didn't clearly call out the unique aspects of PHP compared to other languages. The examples were barely adequate and weren't well thought out to reinforce the critical concepts. The most disappointing was the lackluster authentication examples which fall far short of a secure, robust, and usable customer experience.
Finally, the table of contents implies that the book covers software development best practices for large scale PHP web applications. The spartan single chapter on the topic briefly mentions having coding conventions, using source control, limiting the size of your files, doing code reviews, and the importance of testing. Nothing in there is new or useful to anyone that's done any programming before. Now I'm looking around for a book that really covers this subject so I know how to properly set up my source files, do test driven development, employ continuous builds, and so on.
To be fair there are some highlights. The coverage of basic MySQL setup was nice, the chapter on AJAX was a good overview, and the appendices were comprehensive on the setup of PHP and MySQL.
In short, buy this book if you have little programming background. You should plan to read a follow up book to get the real information on how to build web applications of any use.