I picked this book up on an impulse, wanting to learn more about MySQL and PHP for a website project I have planned. Being new to computer books I bought one from this (apparently) lesser-known series, but I'm pleased to say that I've found it so far to be an extremely well-written and useful guide.
Around the same time I also bought PHP & MySQL for Dummies, thinking that it would probably be better and more informative, especially based on my experience with other 'For Dummies' books. But after trying to get through that, I ended up coming back to this slim tome which managed to sum up a clear introduction to MySQL and PHP in 10 small pages, where the 'For Dummies' book had taken 20 large ones and had left me with more questions than answers.
This book takes a very practical and down to earth approach, walking you through each step, and explaining as it goes. I've found it to be clear, concise and easy to read - everything you want from a tutorial! The author knows how much information to give you, and how to quickly get it across without bogging you down. It does expect you to have some HTML knowledge, but beyond that it teaches you everything.
I was especially impressed with the step-by-step guide to installing PHP on your home computer, and the immediate examples it gave to help you understand how PHP works.
(The 'For Dummies' book on first tutorial skipped a LOT of information and assumed you knew important things, while hammering home uninteresting and obvious things instead. I felt like it was missing a chapter!)
The author makes it clear that this book is only an introduction to PHP and MySQL, but he goes on to explain that once you understand the basics you will be well-equipped to help yourself: Having a solid understanding of the common uses of PHP and MySQL will take you a long way to making you self-sufficent.
There are lots of resources for PHP and MySQL help on the internet, but if you don't understand what you need help with, you won't understand the answers you are given, so it's important to have a good grounding, which is really this book's aim.
A large part of the book is dedicated to practical advice on using PHP, and the use of MySQL and PHP together is reserved for the last three chapters.
I recommend this book for those looking for a clear tutorial to teach themselves PHP and MySQL. It's not a reference book and it doesn't go into obscure examples, but if you're new to the subject and want to learn quickly and easily, then this is for you!