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.
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.
Easy to understand, builds a good foundation.
Should have an accompanying disc.
Great book for beginners looking to learn PHP.