HTML & Javascript for Visual Learners

“HTML & Javascript for Visual Learners” published by Visibooks is a basic HTML course in a workbook. This workbook will teach you the basics of real HTML coding. This book does not show you how to use WYSIWYG applications such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver. All of the examples in the book are demonstrated using Notepad. The language used in each section is clear, concise, and fully understandable. The font is larger than standard books which helps when trying to understand technical information.

HTML & Javascript for Visual Learners

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The introduction of the book explains what you will learn, and how you will learn it. Their teaching method is stated on the front of the book, “See. Do. Learn.” They point out that while you will not become an expert after reading this book (that could take years), you will build a strong foundation of the basics. The book has five sections: HTML Basics, Layout and Navigation, Interactivity, Advanced Layout and Practical Javascript.

HTML Basics covers how to format pages and text, creating links including e-mail links, inserting and aligning graphics, structuring basic navigation systems, and changing page and link colors (body tag).

The Layout and Navigation section includes table structures, creating navigation bars, adding subsections with menu links and pages, how to create embedded tables (tables within tables) and linking using frames.


META tags, form creation, style sheets and how to upload your new site to a web server are covered in the Interactivity section.

Pages 141-152 make up the Advanced Layout section. Included are how to implement background graphics, utilize spacer gifs, and working with page margins.

The final section in the book discusses Practical Javascript. Covered items include rollover graphic creation, opening new windows, and validating form input. I think this is a must read section. Validating form input is critical when creating forms.

To summarize, this book is designed for the web beginner. Each section shows (155 screenshots!) examples and includes practice and quizzes. Each section has downloadable source code which can be modified. I recommend this book for any beginner wanting to gain a solid foundation in HTML development.

Product Rating:

Company:
Visibooks

Requirements:
For beginners

Pricing:
$24.50

Reviewed by:
Allen

Competition:
N/A

Pros:
A great learning tool for HTML beginners.

Cons:
Could use more depth in the style sheet area.

Bottom Line:
This book is a worthwhile purchase for newbies in the HTML arena.

MySQL

Probably the biggest hurdle in expanding a small site into a larger one is managing all of the new code, content, and design issues. The solution most web sites come to is to create a database that stores information that allows a big site to be managed by a small team. While there are many options and combinations out there, the cheapest and easiest way to go about managing a database site is to use PHP or PERL, combined with MySQL.

The book MySQL is one of several books that attempts making the migration to a MySQL database site easier. Overall, the book succeeds in its mission. The book is divided into four major sections. First, the author, Paul DuBois, introduces you to the world of MySQL and the Structured Query Language itself. The next section consists of a three-tiered approach. DuBois realizes that MySQL can be used with a variety of languages, and he goes into detail on how to optimally use the relational database with C, Perl, and PHP. His efforts in doing so produce the desired results: programmers from a variety of backgrounds can get started using MySQL (as opposed to other books, which usually focus on MySQL combined with a specific language, such as PHP). The third section, which mainly applies to server administrators, explains how to keep MySQL relatively secure and how manage and maintain the server. The last section, and by no means the least, consists of the appendixes. The book is 700 pages (excluding the index), and this section is a significant 200 pages long. It includes helpful references to all of the applicable functions in C, PHP, and Perl, as well as including information about MySQL data types, SQL syntax, and SQL functions.

MySQL

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With the average chapter consisting of 30 pages, DuBois is able to get into much detail without getting too bogged down. He starts the book with two examples, a historical society looking to keep a membership database, and a teacher looking to create an organized way to manage students’ grades. The book traces the paths of these two projects in all the relevant sections, providing a start-to-finish overview of how two disparate groups found solutions using MySQL. DuBois effectively addresses most of the major issues you’ll confront when working with a database, and provides solutions through the liberal use of specific examples scattered throughout the book.

The book provides information for even beginners to get started. It starts slowly, but then picks up, assuming that you have some knowledge in C, Perl, PHP, and Linux. In this way, it is possible for a beginner to learn and work with MySQL relatively trouble-free. However, although DuBois includes sections for C, PHP, and Perl, he assumes the reader knows something about the languages involved. If you don’t, you’ll still be able to use the database-relevant portions of these languages, but not much else. The title of this book is MySQL, which is a good pointer into what its main purpose is.

This book serves two groups of learners. Those who like learning step by step will be able to take advantage of the primary part of the book, which is a good, but sometimes overwhelming, guide. However, the book also includes the expansive appendix section, which I spoke of above, that is hugely beneficial to the types who already know something about MySQL but need a bit of a push. The reference sections also give the most advanced users a place to look when their memory fails them.

The only points I found that might be troubling is that sometimes it’s hard to find what you’re looking for in all the text. If you go step by step through the chapters, then this should not be an issue. Also, there is no CD included, so you’ll have to get the software online. The book does include a section that tells you where to get most of the software.

Overall, this book makes the task of learning the relationship database management server MySQL easier. It includes enough material so even the most amateur users will be able to take advantage of the possibilities a database offers. Also, it gives programmers handy chapters that allow them to integrate MySQL in their own projects. Thirdly, the large reference in the back is a handy tool to use when you know how to do something but need that little extra push. The book costs $50, which isn’t an insignificant amount. But it’s worth it.

Product Rating:

Company:
New Riders

Requirements:
N/A

Pricing:
$49.99

Reviewed by:
Darshan

Competition:
N/A

Pros:
Great appendix and the book features lots of examples.

Cons:
Sometimes it’s hard to find your way around the book.

Bottom Line:
If you’re the least bit computer literate and are looking to add MySQL to your projects, get this book.

Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours

There are many server-side scripting languages in use on the web. Some of the more popular languages are ASP, Cold Fusion, PHP and Perl. Is one better then any other? Better, no, different, yes. Sams, “Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours” covers the PHP 4 language in detail. I am somewhat new to PHP, and reading this book is my first full-fledged attempt at learning PHP.

The book is organized into four sections: Introduction to PHP, Basic Features, Functions and Techniques, and Library Code. Each section is then further separated in to subsections called “hours.” The author suggests that the reader have a basic understanding of the web and in particular some knowledge of HTML as a prerequisite.


 

The first segment of this book, hours 1 through 3, covers the history of the PHP language and why it was developed. How to install PHP on various types of servers is described as well. The author does a great job of explaining the different installation techniques to minimize hassle. An example script is supplied to show several ways of embedding PHP into your web pages, which produce text in the user’s browser.

The second segment of the book is comprised of hours 4 through 8. The hours cover the different components of PHP programming. If you are a programming novice, this is the most important section to focus on. I found this section to be extremely useful and I re-read it twice to make sure I did not miss anything valuable. It provided information about expressions, data types, operators, arrays and objects. The author provides examples of each. It would have been very useful had the book come with a CD that included all these scripts prewritten.

The third segment of the book is focuses mainly on integration of PHP in to your HTML documents. This segment of the book is spread throughout 13 hours. This is where you actually get down to business and implement some basic PHP code in your web pages. The author starts with basic HTML templates, and works from there. HTTP header information, file management, creating images on the fly, and working with “state” are all covered in detail. While the first few hours of the may have only taken minutes to read and were fairly easy for me to comprehend, this part of the book makes up for it. It was much more time consuming and intense.

The final segment, segment four, teaches you how to extend PHP’s functionality by making use of pre-made templates, template engines and code libraries. I would suggest you completely understand the first 3 sections of the book before you read this section.

Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours

Overall, I found the book to be very educational. I was able to learn some PHP functionality and then, apply and reapply, my newly acquired knowledge. The contents of this book are very current and are useful. The only downfall of the book is that it doesn’t include a disk with the examples that are used in the book. Typing all the examples is very tedious and got old, fast. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to learn the basics of PHP in a timely manner and without much struggle. There are larger, more comprehensive PHP books out there, but for the beginner, this one is perfect.

Product Rating:

Pros:
Easy to understand, builds a good foundation.

Cons:
Should have an accompanying disc.

Bottom Line:
Great book for beginners looking to learn PHP.

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