TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Book Review: PHP and MySQL Web Development

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Programming

Book Review: PHP and MySQL Web Development

by Ron Davis

It used to be you were an HTML "programmer" if you understood what <B> was. I've never really thought there was any such thing as a HTML "programmer." HTML is a mark-up language. It's data, not instructions. I'm not going to get into my personal feelings on scripting verses programming, but I've done a bit of one and a lot of the latter. The day came when my personal website needed to be able to generate content on the fly and I went looking for a language to make it do so.

At first what I wanted was C/C++ but that really isn't what you want to do web work in. Remember you are mostly manipulating text, which C/C++ isn't really all that good at. Also you are generally working with a machine you can't compile on. You can upload files though, and those files can be executed, so you need a scripting language.

Perl is the language everyone associates with UNIX, but after attempting to remove my cerebellum through my eye sockets during early Perl sessions I went looking for another language to write in. That's when I found PHP. Here was a C like scripting language made to generate web pages - one that integrated with databases, for even more interesting possibilities.

There are a lot of good online tutorials on the web for PHP. It is a very popular language. This is partially because it is free and partially because it doesn't induce suicidal tendencies when you try to code in it.

While there is no real link between PHP and MySQL they always seem to go together. This is mainly because they are both free and offered as part of Linux, the dominant platform for web hosting companies. So everyone with a web site gets PHP and MySQL for free.

When it comes time to get serious about learning to use these two technologies, you should pick up the book PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling and Laura Thomson. It is both a great introduction and reference for PHP.

Personally I like books that teach you by doing. I want examples that will provide real world use. Even when a book does an example a chapter, I will often change the example to something I need as I read. PHP and MySQL Web Development does this well. After the required introductory chapter, each chapter introduces a new concept with a relevant example. In the end you have a complete web site with lots of different functionality.

To use the book you are going to have install PHP and MySQL. If you are using a non-server version of MacOS X you will have to install MySQL. There is downloadable package to do this with instructions at Marc Liyanage's site:

http://www.entropy.ch/software/macosx/mysql/

If you want to run PHP code on your local machine using the built in Apache server, you will need to do some configuration. Apple provides some instructions on how to do this.

http://developer.apple.com/internet/macosx/php.html

Once this is done you should have no trouble doing any of the examples in the book. I found no platform-specific problems while using the book.

The first part of the book teaches you the basics of PHP, including how you put PHP code inside your HTML file. It goes on to discuss the various features of the language includeing manipulating strings with regular expressions, reading and writing files, and arrays. After you get a basic understanding of PHP, it switches to talking about MySQL.

This first section on MySQL deals only with designing and creating databases. You work on the command line with MySQL.

After you have learned to use MySQL, you'll learn how to talk to MySQL with PHP. There are two chapters in the MySQL section showing basic and advanced interaction. In reality talking to other databases is accomplished almost exactly the same way. I had a site I built on my local machine using MySQL and then moved to a server and used it with MSSQL by changing the prefix on the calling routines.

Part three of the book is the meat of learning to use these technologies. The authors step you through a complete e-comerce system built with PHP and MySQL. By the time you get to this point in the book you understand the language and MySQL enough you can just start pulling the sections of this program you need out and use them. If you skip around you will occasionally have to go back to a previous chapter to figure out how the database is set up or what some variables mean. But if you need a user system, refer to chapter 24 "Building User Authorization and Personalization." Shopping cart? Chapter 25. Content management system? Chapter 27.

Appendix A on installing PHP and MySQL is largely useless to the Mac user. The index is good, letting you use the book as a general PHP/SQL reference. When you want more depth you can check out the PHP manual online at:

http://www.php.net/docs.php

Appendix B also gives an extensive list of web resources.

This book sits on my bookshelf with little post it notes sticking out at relevant pages. The only real complaint I have about the book is its size with over 800 pages. But it does cover a lot of stuff. Also since it is example based, it is somewhat hard to find a specific PHP function. I have little bookmarks for the date command and the SQL Alter table command.

If you are looking for a good book to cover all of the things about PHP and MySQL you need to do most common web tasks, this book is it.


Ron Davis is a long time Macintosh Software Engineer, having worked for companies like Apple and Metrowerks on a variety of products from development tools to anti-virus software. His day job is working for Alsoft, and his evening job is R.A.D. Productions, makers of Suck It Down and FinderEye.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Model 15 (Music)
Model 15 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $29.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The Moog Model 15 App is the first Moog modular synthesizer and synthesis educational tool created exclusively for iPad, iPhone and... | Read more »
How to deal with wind in Angry Birds Act...
Angry Birds Action! is a physics-based puzzler in which you're tasked with dragging and launching birds around an obstacle-littered field to achieve a set objective. It's simple enough at first, but when wind gets introduced things can get pretty... | Read more »
How to get three stars in every level of...
Angry Birds Action! is, essentially, a pinball-style take on the pull-and-fling action of the original games. When you first boot it up, you'll likely be wondering exactly what it is you have to do to get a good score. Well, never fear as 148Apps... | Read more »
The beginner's guide to Warbits
Warbits is a turn-based strategy that's clearly inspired by Nintendo's Advance Wars series. Since turn-based strategy games can be kind of tricky to dive into, see below for a few tips to help you in the beginning. Positioning is crucial [Read... | Read more »
How to upgrade your character in Spellsp...
So you’ve mastered the basics of Spellspire. By which I mean you’ve realised it’s all about spelling things in a spire. What next? Well you’re going to need to figure out how to toughen up your character. It’s all well and good being able to spell... | Read more »
5 slither.io mash-ups we'd love to...
If there's one thing that slither.io has proved, it's that the addictive gameplay of Agar.io can be transplanted onto basically anything and it will still be good fun. It wouldn't be surprising if we saw other developers jumping on the bandwagon,... | Read more »
How to navigate the terrain in Sky Charm...
Sky Charms is a whimsical match-'em up adventure that uses creative level design to really ramp up the difficulty. [Read more] | Read more »
Victorious Knight (Games)
Victorious Knight 1.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.3 (iTunes) Description: New challenges awaits you! Experience fresh RPG experience with a unique combat mechanic, packed with high quality 3D... | Read more »
Agent Gumball - Roguelike Spy Game (Gam...
Agent Gumball - Roguelike Spy Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Someone’s been spying on Gumball. What the what?! Two can play at that game! GO UNDERCOVERSneak past enemy... | Read more »
Runaway Toad (Games)
Runaway Toad 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It ain’t easy bein’ green! Tap, hold, and swipe to help Toad hop to safety in this gorgeous new action game from the creators of... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Price drops on clearance 2015 13-inch MacBook...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on clearance 2015 13″ MacBook Airs by up to $250. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A): $799, $200... Read more
Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
B&H Photo has Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $449 $50 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $649 $50 off MSRP - 2.8GHz Mac mini... Read more
13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $130-$200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1169 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 2.7GHz/... Read more
Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
SanDisk Half-Terabyte SSD Optimized for Every...
SanDisk Corporation has announced the SanDisk Z410 SSD, a cost-competitive, half-terabyte solid state drive (SSD) that enables manufacturers to design for a broad range of desktop PCs and laptops.... Read more
Churchill Downs Racetrack Selects VenueNext t...
Churchill Downs Racetrack has announced an agreement with VenueNext to implement its technology platform for the start of Churchill Downs 2016 Spring Meet, which includes the 142nd running of the... Read more
Record 700 Million Pounds of CE Recycled in 2...
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) reports that a record-setting 700 million pounds of consumer electronics (CE) have been recycled under the eCycling Leadership Initiative (ELI). According to... Read more
Price drops on clearance 12-inch Retina MacBo...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on leftover 2015 12″ Retina MacBooks with models now available starting at $999. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros available for $20...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $210 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
Target offers Apple Watch Sport for $50 off M...
Target has Apple Watch Sports on sale for $50 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Simply Mac *Apple* Specialist- Service Repa...
Simply Mac is the largest premier retailer of Apple products in the nation. In order to support our growing customer base, we are currently looking for a driven Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.