Posts tagged ‘o’reilly’

PHP Cookbook: Need we say more?

Well, those familiar with O’Reilly cookbook series really don’t need much explanation in order to get the right mindset before discussing the details of this book. If you’ve read other books in the “Cookbook” series from O’Reilly, you are probably already in love with some delicious “recipes,” but for those who are new to the ‘cooking’, here we go…

To put it short, we shall just say that the PHP Cookbook is an extremely well organized, massively useful, and easy to read impressive collection of problems, solutions, and practical examples for PHP developers, from novices to advanced practitioners.(Buy it on Amazon)

Just like a real cookbook used in the kitchen to prepare tasty food, this book provides a unique and extensive collection of best practices for everyday PHP programming dilemmas, so that instead of poking around mailing lists, online documentation, and other sources, you can rely on this book for quick and tested solutions to common problems, helping you spend your time on those out-of-the-ordinary problems specific to your application.

For every problem addressed in the book, there’s a worked-out solution or “recipe” — short, focused pieces of code that you can insert directly into your applications. But, do not let yourself be fooled, this book offers much more than just cut-and-paste code. You also get detailed explanations of how and why the code works, so you can learn to adapt the problem-solving techniques to similar situations.

The so called “recipes” in the PHP Cookbook range from simple tasks, such as sending a database query and fetching URLs, to entire programs that demonstrate complex tasks, such as printing HTML tables and generating bar charts. This book contains over 250 recipes — a treasure trove of useful code for PHP programmers, from novices to advanced practitioners. You can safely rely on the PHP Cookbook to provide quick solutions to common problems, so you can spend your time on those out-of-the-ordinary problems specific to your application.

The contents of this book are organized by language components, which makes it convenient to find what you are looking for. Within each chapter, are very specific problems and recipes which contain simple and short code snippets and a description of what it does. Most problems are solved within one page. It is really concise and to the point. The index is comprehensive so it is straightforward to lookup the issue you are having, find the problem / solution and get on with your coding. You don’t have to read through lots of code or descriptions of why somebody setup a display template or complicated object. Look up your problem, read a quick solution, and that’s that, you’re done and back to implementing it in your code.

The first six chapters provide recipes for more basic subjects (strings, numbers, dates & times, arrays, variables, and functions. By chapter seven the authors are discussing classes and objects, and serves as a great resource for all your OOP problems. The next nine chapters cover the usual web development stuff starting out with basic things like cookies, forms, and databases, and later into more advanced areas like session management, XML, automation and web services (REST, SOAP, Mail, FTP, LDAP, and DNS to name a few).

Chapter 17 focuses on the topic of graphics which is important if things like creating a button image on the fly, or generating charts suits your fancy. Chapter 18 is on security and encryption which is vital to every web developer who does not want his/her web application to be the link that allows data to be compromised (That should cover over 90 percent of us, right?…).

Chapter 19 covers localization, while chapter 20 is on debugging and testing. The debugging section does a great job of getting a person setup with the tools they need to properly debug an application including creating your own exception class. This is an outstanding chapter that every programmer can appreciate since every application needs debugging.

The remaining chapters cover performance tuning, regular expressions, files, directories, command line PHP, PERL and PECL.

Also, among the various topics discussed in this book, you will find information on the following:

  • Working with basic data types, including strings, numbers, dates and times, and arrays
  • PHP building blocks, such as variables, functions, classes, and objects
  • Web programming, including forms, database access, and XML
  • Useful features like regular expressions, encryption and security, graphics, internationalization and localization, and Internet services
  • Working with files and directories
  • Command-line PHP and PHP-GTK
  • PEAR, the PHP Extension and Application Repository

So, although we would not recommend this as your first programming book (except if you like to learn by jumping in head first, and diving straight into code examples) as it does assume some familiarity with programming concepts, it can and should, however, be your first PHP book, since this book is like having the answer key to most of the random questions a person comes up with when writing code.

We found this book to be very useful, and we believe it will be one of those references that you will keep close by on your desk. That is why we would strongly recommend it to any PHP developer that wants to move on to the next level.

Anyone who likes to learn by jumping in head first, and diving straight into code examples will be right at home with the PHP Cookbook. If you’ve read other books in the “Cookbook” series from O’Reilly, you’ll be familiar with the format: problem, solution, discussion.
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July 28, 2009 at 10:27 am 18 comments

Web Database Applications with PHP, and MySQL: Your PHP Launchpad Station

Hello all,

Today we would like to preset to you another great O’reilly book that we deep very valuable for beginners willing to kick start their career in PHP/MySQL.

The book is called Web Database Applications with PHP, and MySQL by Hugh E. Williams, David Lane. (Buy it on Amazon)

As the title clearly indicates, this book is all about building websites powered by database applications. The book uses PHP and MySQL, two open source technologies the are often combined to develop web applications, for a scripting language and a database technology respectively, offering a fine mixture of theoretical and practical information on creating web database applications and detailed information on designing relational databases.

Since E-commerce is one of the most popular applications on the web and the development of such an engine employees a great many skills in terms of programming and database design, you will definitely want to get your hands on this book and use it as your personal launchpad into your PHP career since it will teach you both the concepts, planning and design process as well as some hands-on implementation.

Although familiarity with programming and computers is assumed but other than that, not much else is assumed. The authors do an excellent job of explaining some of the fundamental concepts underlying database driven websites, including important elements such as security, multiple users, managing inventory users, and multiple pricing. All problems in the book are addressed with a straight code listing, followed by text that explains what’s happening in the preceding steps.

With about 13 chapters and 5 appendices spanning 550 pages, the authors start out with an introduction to database applications and the web, continuing with an intro to PHP and MySQL, covering the main concepts behind web technologies and ending with the sample wine store application mentioned above. The main concepts discussed are querying databases, writing to databases, validations on the server and client, session management, user authentication and security. The appendices handle installation, modeling and designing relational databases, managing sessions in the database tier, etc.

Overall, the selection of topics is perfect for Intermediate programmers and the explanations are very detailed yet simple. This is probably one of the reasons this book is so popular. I have thoroughly enjoyed using this book and I am not surprised to see such a high quality book from this publisher. I am not familiar with the authors but I am going to keep an eye open in the future for other books by them.

All this is done in simple terms without too much jargon. To top it all off, a tutorial style approach is taken to illustrate how all these concepts come together. The tutorial is on building an online retail site that sells wines, the lovely Hugh and Dave’s Online Wines, a complete (but fictional) online retail site that allows users to browse, search a database, add items to a shopping cart, manage their membership, and purchase wines. Using this site as an example, the book shows you how to implement searching and browsing, store user data, validate user input, manage transactions, and maintain security. If you want to build small to medium-scale web database applications that can run on modest hardware and process more than a million hits a day from users (Not bad, hu?…), this book will show you how.

Programming veterans will want more than this book offers (although they’ll probably find themselves thinking ‘Gee, I wish I’d had this when I began learning PHP’), but newbies will find ‘Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL’ to be an excellent launch pad for their future endeavors. And veterans who are responsible for teaching PHP to their subordinates couldn’t wish for a better instructional aid

Enjoy creating your own database driven website!

July 21, 2009 at 7:02 am 12 comments


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