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Mike Riley

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Murach's PHP and MySQL Book Review

January 01, 2011

Murach books are known for their large format trim size and one-to-one theory-practice "paired pages" approach. While a majority of their titles are Microsoft technology focused, they do offer titles on Java and other Oracle-based technologies. This latest title from Murach on PHP and MySQL expands their offerings even further. How does this title compare to other Murach and PHP/MySQL book alternatives? Read on to find out.PHP has frequently been referred to as the Visual Basic of the web application development world. Perhaps this might explain why Murach, a publisher who has for years been developing titles to teach Visual Basic, has opted to create a title that teaches this ubiquitous language/database combination. Given the proliferation of PHP on the web, it also makes sense for any web developer to at least become familiar with the language so they have a point of reference to turn to when a project comes along using the technology, it isn't necessary to start from square one.

Murach's PHP and MySQL takes readers on a fast-paced educational journey of learning the basics of the language and how it interacts with the MySQL DBMS. The book is divided into four sections: Getting started, PHP programming, MySQL programming and advanced skills. Section 1 introduces a brief history of PHP, how web page processing works, using Notepad++ and NetBeans for editing and XAMPP for self-contained and portable PHP development. Basic code structures (ex: control statements), setting up and learning basic MySQL statements and navigating MySQL databases using phpMyAdmin. The section concludes with the introduction to the MVC concept demonstrated via a sample Product Manager application. Debugging is also covered using the NetBeans xDebug plug-in.

Section 2 is the largest portion of the book, and it covers specific cookbook-style PHP scenarios (ex: working with form data, ex: how to acquire data from check boxes, drop-down lists, text areas, etc.), using control statements (iteration, logical operators, etc.), working with strings and numbers, dates, arrays, cookies and sessions. Creating and using a library of functions conclude with an MVC shopping cart application example. Creating and using objects are next, demonstrated with an OOP-enabled version of the Product Manager application. The section concludes with the use of regular expressions via a Registration application example.

Section 3 explores the details of MySQL programming, from designing tables and indexes to using SQL's Data Definition Language (DDL) and Data Manipulation Language (DML). The last two chapters of the section demonstrate how to improve the PHP/MySQL link via PHP Data Objects (PDO) and mysqli and concludes with a Guitar Shop website example featuring a database-driven product catalog and product manager application. Section 4 covers advanced topics such as creating secure connections, authentication and using encryption. Sending email, reading/writing/uploading files, manipulating images, integrating the YouTube API and other code explorations are provided. The section concludes with the complete Guitar Shop e-commerce web example that can be used as a foundation for the reader's own PHP website creations. The book's appendixes (one dedicated exclusively for Mac users) helps readers configure their learning environment with the tools used throughout the book.

While a bit on the pricey side, the trim size, paper quality and number of pages help justify the cost to a certain degree. The remainder goes toward the expertise not only in the content but the efficient learning format that Murach and Associates have honed over the years. Compared to the stack of other PHP/MySQL titles on the market, I found Murach to be one of the easiest and fastest books to teach the subject. It effectively compresses the key amounts of information required to understand PHP programming, and competently execute a solid PHP application from scratch. Combined with their 90-day refund guarantee, Murach's PHP and MySQL should be the first book you take a look at on your PHP introductory investigations.

Title: Murach's PHP and MySQL Authors: Joel Murach and Ray Harris Publisher: Mike Murach and Associates ISBN: 978-1-890774-56-1 Pages: 844 Price: $54.50

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