Reference, 2nd Edition, by Rasmus Lerdorf
Bridges, March 2003, send
and Associates, Inc., go
to the web site
Rasmus Lerdorf, the man who created PHP and still
heads the PHP project, brings the essentials of the
language to the PHP Pocket Reference. The book outlines
the basic syntax and structure of PHP, providing
a tutorial for learning the basics of developing
web applications with PHP. It also includes a few
real-world examples of PHP in action and a quick
reference for the vast array of functions provided
by PHP. In case you're just getting into the subject,
PHP is an open-source, HTML-embedded scripting language
that handles tasks such as processing form input
and working with databases directly in your HTML
pages, rather than through CGI scripts.
Lerdorf begins the book with an introduction to
PHP followed by a section on how to install PHP as
a module on the Apache web server. A section covering
the basics of the language follows, with instructions
on embedding PHP in HTML, using includes, commenting
PHP code, variables (including an overview of dynamic
variables), data types, operators and control structures.
Syntax highlighting and language basics are well
described and efficiently ordered (space is tight
in a pocket reference after all). This may sound
like a lot of information for such a small book,
but Lerdorf summarizes each of these topics well
- and that's only in the first twenty pages.
The next few pages bring an equally concise, yet complete
overview of functions, web-related variables, sessions
and web database integration - all very large subjects
summed up in another fourteen pages.
The meat of this mini-tome comes in the form of a ninety
eight page function reference section in which Lerdorf
explains 1,404 of the approximately 2,750 functions bundled
with v4.3 of PHP. The reference provides a brief explanation
of each function, lists the expected argument types, its
return type and the version of PHP in which the function
was introduced. Functions are listed alphabetically, which
makes locating them quick and painless (unless you're a
fan of categorization divisions that is, in which case
the alphabetization won't suit you at all).
We were a bit disappointed about two things: a) the book
does not have an index, and b) the function explanations
are too brief (some function listings are actually longer
than their corresponding descriptions). But the book is
touted as a pocket reference, not a training guide, which
means that you really do have to know a bit about the subject
of PHP in order to get the most out of this publication.
Touted by O'Reilly
as "an indispensable tool for
any serious PHP programmer" this book will be a welcome
addition to any web developer's bookshelf (or pocket).
At a hefty (for a pocket reference) 132 pages, this book
does an excellent job of defining the basics of PHP.
Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org