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The PHP Anthology: 101 Essential Tips
October 23, 2007
Week: 9 All time: 45
-SitePoint’s "The PHP Anthology" is a collection of solutions to common problems in PHP web development.
Written by no less than five world-class PHP developers, including quite a few big names in the PHP community, it covers real world problems and provides highly detailed explanations, examples and further reading suggestions to many of the challenges developers are likely to come across.
The book is aimed at the novice to intermediate PHP developer, especially those working with PHP 5. Structured somewhere between one big tutorial and a reference collection, the book provides a handy dive-in set of 101 solutions that most (if not all) PHP developers will find useful. Basic prior experience with PHP 5 is assumed, but most coders can pick up a copy, find a section and start reading.
Of the many solutions provided in the book, almost all cover the generally accepted best practices, while the few remaining are perfectly good, novel solutions which will no doubt soon be accepted as best practice anyway.
All the examples are well laid out, with a good balance of code and explanation. Excerpts were used effectively to clarify examples. I came across an interesting mail-related challenge recently. I scanned through the table of contents, and sure enough, the book provided a solution.
Prior to reference books like these, Google was the programmers best friend. However, scanning through search results for blog posts and trying to decipher badly written examples was a great way to lose valuable development time.
The PHP Anthology is well laid out, consistent and straightforward, making it a far superior alternative to searching the web.
I actually enjoyed reading the book. The authors have put together very interesting examples. Even in my brief read I learned more about PHP than I have in quite a while.
Day to day development does not often expose one to new and interesting challenges. This book is a great way to extend your skills without expensive training courses or spending hours pouring over online tutorials.
However, as with all development-related books, this is somewhat limited in breadth. They could not possibly cover all common PHP challenges in one book.
Choosing 101 essential tips and tricks is a noble proposal, but at the end of the day you will still be using this book alongside an IDE and a Web browser. Aside from a few URLs in footnotes, the book does little to provide further assistance.
A list of great PHP tutorials on related topics at the end of each section would have been a useful addition. As it stands, readers are more or less back to the search engines after reading.
Thankfully, on the topics the book does cover, each chapter is sufficiently independent to serve as an ongoing reference for all PHP development. This book just earned a permanent spot on my desk.
When it comes to ongoing development, if you work with Web services, MySQL databases, file uploads, user authentication, or likely all of the above, this book is an invaluable reference.
As PHP developers, we commonly resort to browsing the Web for people with similar programming problems. Now that we have The PHP Anthology, why should we? While the book certainly does not cover everything, there is something for everyone, and even the few sections you find useful make it all worthwhile.
SitePoint offers a paperback version, PDF and both. The paperback looks to be the most useful, although I am sure the access to the PDF will also come in handy.
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1. PHPClasses.org: Book Review: The PHP Anthology: 101 Essential Tips (2008-04-16 21:31)