Kevin Yank‘s Build Your Own Database Driven Web Site Using PHP & MySQL is now in its fourth edition and provides a solid method of learning how to use PHP and MySQL for web development. What struck me most about the book is its natural, step-by-step progression from simple exercises (such as the too-ubiquitous “Hello World” exercise) to simple PHP coding and database exercises that culminate in larger projects such as a functional content management system and data storage and handling. I found myself not enjoying the book early on because of its simple exercises but liking it more and more as the value of the more difficult chapters became evident. There’s also a chapter at the beginning on installation of PHP and MySQL, which is important and can be overlooked, and a couple appendices at the end for common PHP and MySQL functions.
Kevin writes clearly and has just a touch of humor, which I appreciate: too much humor can make a reader sick like a bucket of Halloween candy. The one thing I think would improve the fifth edition of this book is better paper and book design—for a $40 book, black and white text on the usual uncoated stock is a bit dull. A little more color in places and some coated paper stock would make this book a more enjoyable read, at least for this designer.
Build Your Own Database Driven Web Site is a good read for absolute beginners to PHP and MySQL—intermediate users should probably stick to more advanced books or online resources, while advanced users could probably write this book. I like it because it’s almost totally exercise-based with just the right amount of lecture and monologue, and the code for all the exercises is online (no CD) so it’s easy to learn from. The book has a narrow focus—other web languages are only briefly mentioned if at all—but that can be a good thing for a topic like PHP and MySQL.
Build Your Own Database Driven Web Site Using PHP & MySQL, Fourth Edition
Published by Sitepoint