PHP In Easy Steps, 4th Ed

Author: Mike McGrath
Publisher: In Easy Steps
Date: April 2021
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1840789232
Print: 1840789239
Kindle: B08ZSV3MNH
Audience: People wanting to learn PHP
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Ian Elliot
PHP isn't a fashionable language, but this doesn't mean it isn't worth learning.

PHP most definitely is still the workhorse of the web and it is a lot better than it used to be. This book covers PHP 8 and so is up to date. It is a short introductory book so it doesn't get deep into subjects that differ in other versions of the language.


It is a paradox that the most difficult chapter is the first. With PHP this is often the way because PHP is a language that needs a full web server and an integrated language engine. Web servers that are actually encountered in the wild, like Apache, aren't easy to set up and enabling the appropriate modules takes you well beyond basic PHP skills. In other words, getting started with PHP is tougher than with other languages. This book takes a different route and makes use of the Abyss server, which is much easier to set up, but still not trivial. The chapter also goes into some details about how PHP is compiled - the JIT compiler option for example. I think the problem of getting started is difficult enough without worrying about how fast things work - time for that later.

After Chapter 1 we follow a fairly standard path though learning a language. Chapter 2 is about variables and values - all very simple, but again some more advanced material is included, sorting arrays, checking types and so on. Chapters 3 and 4 are about expressions and operators, again some more advanced things are included. Chapter 4 also introduces flow of control as part of using conditional expressions. The if and the loop both need conditional expressions.

In Chapter 5 we meet functions, which is how most of PHP is constructed even if it is nominally an object-oriented language.  Chapter 6 deals with strings and how to work with them, which is a vital skill for working with web pages. Chapter 7 introduces classes and for the PHP beginner this probably isn't necessary. PHP is strange in its approach to objects and the beginner is going to be very confused at first.

Chapter 8 returns to practical concerns with a look at file handling and the rest of the book is about how to use PHP to do things. Chapter 9 is about forms, which is a very common use of the language. Chapter 10 is about cookies and session data. Chapter 11 covers a big topic in just a few pages - using Web Services. This is mostly about processing XML.

This is a very condensed look at PHP for the more-or-less complete beginner. The explanations are clear as is the presentation with lots of helpful asides. The only problem with the book is that it might cover too much ground for the reader. Of course, if it left out some topic or another then it risks getting criticized for missing out something important - when writing a book you often cannot win! As long as you are aware that the pace is quite fast, and some of the topics are only just touched on then, there is no need to avoid this book.



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Principled Programming

Author: Tim Teitelbaum
Publisher: DateTree Press
Date: March 2023
Pages: 429
ISBN: 978-8987744109
Print: B0BZF8R467
Audience: General
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Mike James
Principled Programming - what else would you want to do?

Clean Craftsmanship

Author: Robert C. Martin
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Date: November 2021
Pages: 416
ISBN: 978-0136915713
Print: 013691571X
Audience: General
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James
Well, I'm a clean craftsman - are you?

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 28 August 2021 )