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Beginning Php 4 (Programmer to Programmer)

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Spotlight Customer Reviews

Average Customer Rating: 3.98

Customer Rating: 4
Summary: I went from Zero to Expert and this book was a big help
Comment: I like this book and highly recommend it. It is good for people who are new to PHP but not so good for people who are new to programming. I've done a lot of programming in other languages and needed to learn PHP in a big hurry for a project that I was about to take on. This book got me up to speed fast. I'm inclined to think that a lot of the negative reviews are from people without any programming background. I agree this book is not the right place to start if you are a non-programmer. I've also done a fair amount of html prior to reading this book, I found that it's html section and php techniques for generating forms was really excellent, I learned some really great things!

As far as depth goes, such as discussing details of the functions. Well, that's what the php manual is for ( Initially I tried to learn the language from the php manual alone but didn't get very far, I couldn't see the forest because the trees were in the way, eg too much detail without a big picture. What this book does is to focus on the big picture of how and why to do something. It also shows multiple approachs to the same problem and compares them so that you get an idea of the alternatives and trade-offs.

Starting from not knowing php to writing some very sophisticated programs... I learned it all with two books and the manual. The other book that I read is PHP Developers Cookbook. The two books are very complimentary, there is not that much overlap between them instead they fill each others gaps. Note that the "Cookbook" is more advanced and assumes that you already know a lot of php.

Okay, the one big gripe that I have is their lack of proof reading. They must have really rushed this to press. There are literally hundreds of errors and the errata sheet is incomplete. However it is easy to get past the errors as long as you don't make the assumption that the text is always correct. In other words, if something doesn't make sense then you should be suspicious of an error instead of always assuming that it's your lack of understanding.

The necessity of Rewriting the code examples is a little annoying, but the book can hardly be faulted for language changes that were made after the book was published. PHP is a rapidly moving target, no book will ever be current for very long. And besides, the best way to understand a program is to take it apart and rewrite it, that's why they are called "Examples". (most of the changes needed are trivial).

Mostly what you need to do is to change $varname to $_REQUEST['varname']

and that will fix it. If you are having trouble finding the correct variable then use


to get a list of all of the available variables, then you just pick what you need from the list and put a $ in front of it.
(...)By the way, the code examples can be downloaded from their website which can save a lot of typing...

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: Coffee, Keyboard, Mouse, Big Red PHP Book.
Comment: I am very pleased with Beginning PHP 4 and it's rarely off my desk. I'd highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get a fast, no nonsense tutorial and a great reference for PHP.

This book is probably not for someone creating their first Web site. It assumes that the reader can code and publish HTML. I also think it would be a good idea for prospective buyers to visit some PHP sites ... before jumping into "Begining" PHP 4.

Beginning PHP 4 teaches by example so the reader learns functions and techniques VERY quickly as they build working projects. Plus, the layout of the book is such that the reader can drop into any chapter and get a brush-up tutorial and sample code.

So... get a basic feel for PHP, write a few simple PHP enhanced pages on your own and you'll REALLY enjoy this book. You'll find the difference in PHP's power after reading this book is like the difference between throwing a bullet and firing one from a gun.

Customer Rating: 3
Summary: It Gets The Job Done, But It's Nothing Special
Comment: If you've been programming for a while, the pace of this book is too slow to read cover to cover. The best thing to do is read the first half of the book (through chapter 9) and then skip around to what interests you. As others have mentioned, you will have to modify the code in the examples to get them to work because of the use of globals. This is not impossible to overcome if you write the message board for the book at However, it is annoying. There are other errors too, but it doesn't take much in the way of trial and error to get around them. The three chapters on MySQL are the most useful. If you've worked with databases in other scripting languages, e.g. Perl, Python, or Ruby, it's simply a matter of looking up what you want to do. There are some good style examples on structuring PHP code - use of an "$action" variable to drive the behavior of the site from a single page. The book also stresses putting reusable code in include files. The author dismisses classes/objects as not really being useful in PHP, but the use of classes elimates the need for the "global" declarations in many of the common include files. All in all, this is an adequate book, but noting profound. If you have programming experience, this book will get you up and running quickly.