This book is excellent for someone who has zero or outdated programming knowledge. If you follow all the examples you will become knowledgeable enough to tackle more advanced titles on the subject. If you had problems getting the software working ... read the last section of this review. The book covers the basics of HTML, PHP, MySQL and programming concepts such as Variables, Conditions, Functions, Loops, String handling, Arrays etc. at a level and in a manner that beginners should warm to. Rather than a terse explanation of these topics, the author chose to "teach by example". Sometimes this approach works better ... especially in cases where the meaning of the code can be easily interpreted.
The first Chapter on MySQL (CHAP 7) needs some work. It speaks about exporting a table into html and xml (page 281) but does not clearly explain that this exports the results of a query. You will first have to build a query (SELECT * FROM phoneList;) before you can export. There are a few other areas in the book where you have to "figure it out". For example, the use of "backslash-n" appears in the text without explanation. Unfortunately, the PHP manual did not clear it up for me. However, hats off to the author (Andy Harris) as other texts are so much more difficult for the beginner (i.e. non programmer).
I had problems getting the supplied PHP software working under Windows 2000. Since I have 2 other PHP books I consulted them only to find that the software supplied by both these did not work either. My Internet search turned up no solution but gave enough info that allowed me to stumble unto a solution. For those of you with a similar problem, try this -
Download apache_1.3.23-win32-x86 or latest version (apache.org)
Download mysql-3.23.49-win or latest version (mysql.com)
Download php-4.2.3-Win32 or latest version (php.net)
The Apache and MySQL installers run automatically but PHP requires some work. Once installed, test Apache with [...] ... you should see the default apache screen. Next you will need to get Apache to use PHP to interpret files with the .php extension. ... Also, remember to replace all \ with / when editing the configuration files.
If all else fails, reread the installation info that came with the software and search the net for WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP). Good Luck.