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Keywords: PHP 5, web programming

Title: PHP In 10 Minutes

Author: Chris Newman

Publisher: SAMS Publishing

ISBN: 0672327627

Media: Book

Level: Introductory

Verdict: A good introduction for the non-programmer


This is a book aimed at readers wanting a fast introduction to web development using PHP 5. Like many such books, this one is aimed at the relatively inexperienced developer rather than someone wanting to switch to PHP from ASP, JSP or other language/platform. In many respects this is covering the same ground as Spring Into PHP 5, which we reviewed recently, but more on that later.

The book is organised into five sections: PHP foundations, working with data, the web environment, using other services and ending with configuring and extending PHP. There's also an appendix which covers installation on Unix/Linux and Windows. Each section of the book includes a series of short (10 minutes each, hence the title of the book) chapters that cover a specific topic.

The first two sections of the book provide a basic introduction to PHP, starting with variables, looping, conditional statements and so on right up to a chapter on classes and objects. As you'd expect from a book of this length there's not really any great depth of coverage on object orientation, but the chapter on classes takes the sensible approach of showing how to use third party classes in your code. This is a better approach than just throwing in some jargon and an example that doesn't enlighten the reader very much.

Part three of the book looks at PHP in a wider context than just syntax and program structure. It starts to look at those functions that makes PHP useful, from forms and form validation to sessions, cookies, user authentication and interacting with a web server using HTTP. The examples and the writing are focused and serve to give the reader the tools required to really put PHP into use.

Next up is the section on using other services from within PHP. Other services being file system access, executing programs on the server, database access with MySQL, PEAR DB and even a chapter on running PHP from the command-line. It's a good mix of topics, but for the database chapters it really only scratches the surface. There's enough to get started with some very basic database activities, which all that should be expected from a book like this. Besides, there are whole volumes devoted exclusively to the PHP and MySQL combination.

The final short section of the book looks at some miscellaneous issues, including using PEAR.

The range of material covered by the book is pretty good for an introductory title. The writing throughout is clear and well-pitched, it neither under-estimates or over-estimates the target reader. As previously mentioned there's a great deal of similarity between this book and 'Spring Into PHP 5'. They target the same readership, the cover similar ground and take a similar approach (short, focused blocks of information delivered fast). Choosing between these two books is not easy, but if we have to make a recommendation for a beginning PHP 5 book aimed at the non-programmer it would be this one. It wins mainly because the technical content is slightly higher but to be honest it's a close call and if you get the chance to look at both books then take the opportunity before making a choice.

For experienced programmers wanting to get started with PHP then the obvious choices remain Core PHP or PHP 5 Power Programming.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2005. Published June 19 2005