View Full Version : Pls. recommend a good book...

09-30-2004, 10:25 PM
I have in-depth knowledge of CSS & XHTML. Now I'd like to take the plunge & learn PHP & MySQL (for web development). I know only the very basic PHP (such as require_once & echo), & I have no knowledge of MySQL or phpMyAdmin.

I've looked up a few books on the subject, but I can't seem to find something for a novice, or something that's more down-to-earth. I need one that speaks in layman's terms but can later on be used as a reference too. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Maybe if I list some of the books I've liked & disliked, you'd get an idea of what "teaching" style/format I prefer & recommend something that suits me best:

Cascading Style Sheets - The Definitive Guide (Excellent!)

XHTML & CSS Visual QuickStart (Ok/So-so - some errors, didn't get into enough depth on subjects)

Sam's Teach Yourself CGI in 24hrs (Don't like - doesn't really show how to make own scripts, just wants you to use the provided ones)

Javascript - A Beginner's Guide (Don't like)

Dummies series (Don't like - too basic)

Thanks!! :thumbsup:

09-30-2004, 11:27 PM


10-01-2004, 12:01 AM
The above links should help you. Books for php in my opinion aren't that good, as php is always updating, adding new functions, getting rid of useless functions etc and books become outdated fast.

10-01-2004, 12:18 AM
Hmh J&J, I think you are in a tricky position. On the one hand you say you need something that speaks in laymen's terms, on the other you write that Sam's, the Dummies series are to basic for you. For me it seems like you want something that is written in a comprehensible and motivating style, but not directed at morons trying to use the computer the first time.

Long time ago, after my first half year learning PHP from manuals and the occasional explanation from a cow orker, I decided that I did still lack some fundamentals and bought "Beginning PHP4" from Wrox. I remember that some introductory chapter really had an eye-opening effect on me, such as describing in minute, but understandable details the difference between POST and GET and the consequences for web applications. The latter half of the book concentrated very much on the development of a large script, but I skipped this part because I wasn't really inclined to type more than five pages of code listings, just to comb later through them to fix typos done by me. Nowadays I wouldn't exactly recommend this book because it's content is now outdated, but perhaps they have a newer edition.

Generally, I have not had good experience with PHP books. Most of them seemed to be written in a hastily manner, because the demand was so huge in past years. Sometimes they include the PHP reference as well and market that as a distinctive advantage, which is just braindead IMO. The PHP manual is an ever-changing piece of documentation that is best perused online, so one can utilize the user comments as well. Putting a snapshot of the manual into a book is just a waste of trees.

Regarding MySQL, I can highly recommend anything from Paul DuBois. His books are published by NewRiders and O'Reilly, and the two I got are really great. He doesn't precisely target newbies, but his explanations are easy to follow, and he gives great tips you would search forever in the manual.

Currently I'm reading "Advanced PHP Programming" from George Schlossnagle, and I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised. It's really covering more architectonical principles of software development than focusing on obscure syntax details, and well written too. Perhaps it's to advanced for you at the moment, but maybe later you'd want to have a look at it. Definitely recommended.

Whatever you do, be sure to check out sample chapters from various books and don't opt for the book with the most pages. Be suspicious about books explicitly targetting PHP5, it's not installed at most hosts, and the authors can't have had much real-world experience with PHP5 applications since it's just been released.