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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 2 October 2012
Although I was curious about this book, I had mixed expectations. I have no background in web development (beyond playing a little with Catalyst and Drupal) so getting my toes wet with popular web-related technologies can't hurt. At the same time, I must confess I had serious doubts when I read the title out loud: "PHP", "MySQL", "JavaScript", "CSS". Learning four technologies as different as two programming languages (one server- and one client-side at that), a relational database and a style sheet language seemed like a little too much, even for a book of 556 pages.

Depending on your expectations, the book may be a hit or a miss. On one hand, if you unrealistically hoped to be a PHP, MySQL, JavaScript and CSS wizard after reading the book: no luck. You'll need to buy several books about each subject and invest the necessary time to get to know the technologies. But, you probably know this already. If, on the other hand, you just want to scratch the surface but -this is the interesting part- you want to see how these disparate technologies interoperation, then it's a pretty good read. In the limited space, the author manages to give attention to best practices (e.g. database normalization), something I didn't expect. The including classical web application mini-project, that uses the 4 technologies, may be a good incentive to those that prefer a more hands-on approach.
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on 11 January 2013
This book quickly skims through how the internet and websites work at the start so even if you're a complete beginner you'll be able to jump in and follow what's going on but you would need to look elsewhere to get more of a grounding in the basics of HTML etc.

I once tried to learn programming before but had a terrible tutor who put me off it for years! The author of this book would have made a much better teacher.
What I like about this book is that it has a clear and engaging style, the writer really takes the time to explain concepts using analogies and examples that just make sense.
It's well laid out and progresses nicely from one concept to the next building on what's come before.

I've seen plenty of books on technical subjects where it's a struggle to complete a paragraph without zoning out or losing the will to live.
This book isn't like that, I've been reading it in bed and able to learn stuff to try out the next day.
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on 6 December 2012
I've bought this book and have read it to cover.

I've used the information held within to build dynamic database driven websites for work and for pleasure.

I already had a decent understanding of HTML, and a rudimentary understanding of programming constructs, but the material in this book has helped me take it to the next level. In that regard, the author has met his objectives but has also exceeded my expectations.

Each of the four advertised topics are covered in more than enough detail to help you pick up the basics, if not more. You're equipped with sufficient knowledge so that, if you 'get it', you'll be off to a flying start. You'll certainly have enough knowledge to produce a better than average personal website. Your level of knowledge will only improve with a second reading.

Examples of programming concepts such as conditional statements, flow control, operators, functions and object orientation are covered as is basic Ajax. There are some exercises, but I would have welcomed a few more.

The one thing I'm still not clear on after reading this book is JavaScript. I think its just me, but it still hasn't totally clicked. Of the four main topics, this is the area I know the least about so I probably just need more practice or maybe a more detailed book.

The only thing to really be aware of is that this book is only about 500 pages long. Purely because of that, you won't be exposed to every aspect of PHP, MySQL, CSS or JavaScript. All of those topics are big enough to fill larger books than this in their own right.

I've had the dubious pleasure of reading lots if IT manuals in my time. Broadly speaking the spectrum ranges from Microsoft Press at the dry and boring end, through to the tactile, 'humorous', have-fun-learning style of Head First Guides. This book falls squarely in the middle and hits the nail on the head in terms of balance between ease of reading and appropriately technical content. I love this writer's style, I think it makes this book stand out miles above all the others and I don't hesitate to recommend it. I only wish other technical authors would read it to see how its done.

I highly recommend this book if these technologies interest you, or you're a step above a beginner and looking for a book to help you stretch your ability without being overwhelmed.
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on 15 November 2012
This was just what I wanted, a reference book chock full of code and examples to get my teeth into. There's no waffle in this book, it's all good solid stuff.
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on 13 March 2013
If you have a basic understanding of html, and want to learn how to write more complex web pages, then I don't thing you can do better than to buy this as your first book.

It gives primers not just on PHP, MySQL, Javascript, & CSS, but will also introduce you to AJAX, Cookies, Sessions, & Security Issues.

It covers things like database design & normalisation, database transactions, CSS3, DOM, object oriented PHP & JS.

So why haven't I given it 5 stars?

Because it should be teaching the MySLIi database interface - not the basic MySQL interface which still works but is considered out of date. I rewrote all the MySQL examples using object style MySQLi.

Considering that the latest version was published towards the end of 2012, the MySQL section really should have been updated.

But I'd still recommend it to beginners with that caveat - a good little reference book for learners to keep dipping back into.
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on 27 March 2013
I knew nothing about the subject matter and this book quickly bought me up to speed. The author takes you through a journey through php, mysql, Jscript and CSS and explains them quite succinctly.

You end up building a social networking site, with a few modifications and a face lift it's not all that different to Facebook! I wish the author covered mysqli and the topics on object oriented programming did not contain anything regarding abstract classes and interfaces. The only reason i am giving it a 4 star is that i felt the book towards the end was somewhat rushed although i would highly recommend it.
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on 31 July 2014
Loses one star because the free Zend server he relies on is no longer available. Or rather, you now have to register, then fill in a form (which expects you to be attending a school), then wait and hope that Zend allow you a one year educational license on their replacement product. It would be better if Nixon had used a less proprietary WAMP server, as this undermines his attempt to keep everything simple. I will probably have to use a different server and just hope it behaves the same: as a non-expert I'm in trouble if it doesn't!

That's just a minor point though. Otherwise this looks well worth the money and time. I'm on chapter three and I'm very happy with the purchase. I've dipped into a lot of online courses, but none were as good as this book: fact packed and comprehensive yet simple and easy to follow.
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on 26 August 2013
I started writing software in 1976, and stayed in the mainstream applications and embedded software industries. Although I toyed with HTML, CSS and MySQL over the years, I was not "getting it", this new more integrated technology approach. I am pleased to say that this book has helped me get a grasp of the web development paradigm a great deal more firmly. I am now writing some complicated PHP, MySQL and Javascript code to fulfill some long-running ambitions. I have complemented my study with David Flanagan's "Javascript: The Definitive Guide" 6th Ed. (O'Reilly) and Nich Zakas' "Professional JavaScript for Web Developers" 3rd Ed. (WROX)". Neither are light reading, but they extend what's in Robin Nixon's book quite nicely. Robin has set a good foundation for me. I use the MySQL reference site for all my MySQL research.
If I had any complaint it is that Robin does not go quite far enough with some of the examples - many of them are a little too simple, but still informative - and there are large areas of functionality that most websites would capitalise on to make them attractive to users. I have enjoyed many an hour enhancing some of the examples, but I have also not enjoyed the odd hour or so trying to work out why the "simple enhancement" did not work as expected.
Some improvements to consider in the 3rd Ed.:
1. More on MySQL stored procedures, both written in the Management Tool with SQL and using PHP.
2. More on AJAX integration for tabulated data needing regular refreshes.
3. More on AJAX integration and streamlining of PHP by using more JavaScript presentation methods and dynamic JavaScript HTML generation.
4. Some information on running mobile client apps on tablets & phones with a MySQL & PHP server, especially some of the security aspects.
5. Getting Google Docs/Apps to work with a PHP & MySQL server setup
There, that should keep you busy Robin. Good book though, and good value. No time wasted reading this one if you are a beginner, or early intermediate.
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on 16 October 2014
As some people may find, a little understanding (in some instances 45 minutes of You Tube Videos and systems set up) will go along way to digesting this book, though with the PHP upon occasion there were 'relationship' issues but weren't too troubling to resolve same with SQL, the rest (By incorporating the current development trends as with CSS3 and Java) follow smoothly enough.

Though there were moments where there was a feeling of 'VCR manual' skips in logic flow whilst following the coding principles which may lead to some peoples reaction engine switching to "this is (insert expletive)" but perceiver and it is rational, unless your just bad at coding.
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on 13 November 2012
If you've gotten to grips with HTML and are ready to embark on making a website that's more than static, then this is the book you want.
It walks you step by step though a lot of material, but once you try to expand on it and do something even slightly different, you'll need to google a lot.
This isn't a replacement for more advanced references. It does, however, have a lot of very useful tips for beginners, especially on security, so I'll give it an extra star just on that.

For me, with quite a bit of javascript, and a little SQL and a lot of experience in other languages, this was quite a bit beneath me, and I read all I needed to in 2 days.
I think what I should have gotten instead is a PHP cookbook.
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