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Advanced PHP Programming (Developer's Library)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2007
I lent my copy of Advanced PHP Programming to a friend last year and when I finally got it back it was dog-eared and edge-worn - a testament to how brilliant and useful the book is to any middle-weight or advanced developer.

The confident, objective writing style is immediately reassuring. Scholssnagle isn't the kind of writer who stubbornly refuses to go into detail about how to use global variables, for example, on the basis that they're evil and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, he explains how to incorporate them sensibly, acknowledges that they're a 'big mistake' and then suggests some alternative strategies. He doesn't rant about or sneer at less-robust techniques, but calmly explains the risks and suggests alternatives.

There's a lot of smart, fresh ideas in this book. The first chapter is on coding styles. There's plenty of good, simple guidelines on how to lay out, structure, and document your code to make it easier to handle and some excellent advice (and examples) of coding styles to avoid. His approach is consistent: keep it simple and use the best tool for the job.

A short chapter on object orientation and design patterns gives a concise overview of PHP object orientation and covers a few of the most useful design patterns - adaptor, template, factory and singleton are explained carefully. It describes specific situations where you'll find each pattern useful rather than just explaining the theory. A chapter on implementing templates explains the Model-View-Controller concept and goes on to show you how to use the Smarty templating engine. Several chapters on user authentication and session handling are very useful and contain some bright insights into fairly well-trodden subject area.

Some chapters have been worth their weight in gold. 'Managing the developing environment' covers use of a versioning system and 'Designing a good API' contains good, disciplined techniques worthy of incorporation into a development firm's house-style guide.

Other chapters cover topics a lot of programmers often ignore altogether, including strategies for handling errors and exceptions, advice on how to use a versioning system, a comprehensive guide to unit testing with PHPUnit and a chapter on profiling and benchmarking applications (especially useful if, like me, you've been asked to document and refactor a large unwieldy application you didn't write!)

Subject matter quickly becomes hardcore: A section on distributed applications and another on caching and performance tunings are not for the faint-hearted but surpised me with a wealth of good ideas and strategies for mid-sized projects. The last part of the book, which covers extensibility, probably won't be of much use to a middle-weight web-developer. I'm curiously lacking in hunger to find out all about ZEND opcodes, and the lengthy chapter on writing PHP extensions has yet to come in handy. Nor can I imagine I'll ever stay up late to read about 'Modifying and Introspecting the ZEND Engine'.

Each chapter ends with a helpful further reading section.

It's certainly not light reading. Most of the chapters require plenty of time and concentration to digest and understand. It isn't a tutorial book and, as the title suggests, it assumes you already have a very good understanding of the language and how to build applications with it. It's improved my coding style considerably and made my applications far easier to work with. I recommend this book to any confident and proficient developer who wants to raise their game.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2005
This book covers a whole number of hard core advanced PHP topics. I was at a pretty high PHP standard before I read this book, and when I did read it, it polished off any gaps in my knowledge, and helped me to become better. To give you an idea of how in depth this book is, on commandline PHP scripts, it covers chroot jailing your scripts, forking and controlling child processes from your script and special file locking to ensure only one instance of a script runs at any one time. It's an enormously in depth book that should a) be read well and b) be kept close by as a reference.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2007
The book is ok generally in the areas it covers, however there are lots of errors in the example code and other parts of the text with some pieces taking many corrections to make them work. Things like getting :: and -> mixed up when calling functions, silly stuff but very annoying(how hard is it to test the code before it's published?!?!). Seems like it was rushed and not had much effort put in compared to many other books I own. On this basis I would not recommend it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2007
Like so often with PHP, this book suffers from having boundless enthusiasm for the topics at hand but lacks the professional polish which is so increasingly rare. Within the the first chapter alone there are numerous syntactical errors within the code and the writing surrounding them. As the book progresses these are coupled with ambiguous explanations of potentially thorny problems and some glaring naming inconsistencies.

If you're expecting a thoughtful and precise book, this isn't it, no matter how hard it tries to be. The book highlights a number of excellent ideas but comes off as more of an extended opinion piece by the author with colloquial language and even extolling the virtues of his own software (APC).

Great for the occasional dip into but expect to do a lot of your own research into the topics presented.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2005
If you are a programmer and want to learn about good practice and design ideas, and are not interested in re-reading about loop constructs or basic beginner-type chapters, then this book is for you.
The author is evidently an 'expert' from the way he writes but it is also a very well written book providing informative and advanced ideas on how to get the best out of PHP5.
If you know your way around PHP4/5 and want to move onto the next stage, then buy it....you will not regret it!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2006
As a teacher of PHP programming to final year undergraduates, I am always on the lookout for concise, well organized and accurate texts. This text meets and surpasses all of these criteria. The chapter on "Object Oriented Programming Through Design Patterns" is worth the cost of the book by itself. The publisher should encourage the author to put together an expanded second edition. Highly recommended.
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on 24 April 2014
The book is a great study guide or desk reference for any PHP developer from beginner moving into advanced PHP to a seasoned Pro... get it its great.
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on 28 March 2010
Previously I didn't can write an OOP php code, but I read in this book, and now I understand it how it works. Thx.
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