Author: Larry Ullman
Publisher: Peachpit Press,2008
Pages: 648
ISBN: 978-0321525994
Aimed at: Intermediate-level web developers
Rating: 4
Pros: Practical approach and plenty of examples
Cons: Fails to cover objects in PHP 6
Reviewed by: Mike James

PHP goes with MySQL very naturally. Of course in practice it can be used with .NET via Visual Studio and SQL Server but MySQL is still a very common choice and pairing them in a single book is hence a good idea. However making the choice include PHP 6.0 is less obviously a good idea as most still use PHP 5 and anyway version 6.0 isn’t finalised as yet.

Ignoring this small problem the book starts out with a very direct introduction to PHP – so direct that it ignores the principles in favour of a “this is how to do it approach”. If you know a little PHP then this will serve as a refesher course but if you know nothing about PHP it is simply going to provide a superficial overview. Notably absent, especially from a book that claims to cover the latest in PHP is any use of objects. This simplifies things but at the expense of revealing the real power of a PHP based system. 

We then move on to MySQL and its use via SQL statements. Here things are better in that the topic is much more suited to a direct approach via small examples and simple statements of what we are trying to do. The final phase of the book explains how PHP and MySQL fit together and here we tackle many standard web application tasks such as implementing cookies, sessions, shopping carts, message boards and so on. Given that this is a fairly large book at more than 600 double column page you are very likely to find something to interest. How good you find the experience of reading the entire book probably depends on how much programming you have already done. This book isn’t aimed at either the beginner or the expert but at the reader who knows some things about web site construction and wants to dip into the practicalities of using something a little more advanced.