Advanced PHP Programming (Developer's Library) Paperback – 20 Feb 2004
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From the Back Cover
Over the past three years PHP has evolved from being a niche language used to add dynamic functionality to small sites to a powerful tool making strong inroads into large-scale, business-critical Web systems.
The rapid maturation of PHP has created a skeptical population of users from more traditional "enterprise" languages who question the readiness and ability of PHP to scale, as well as a large population of PHP developers without formal computer science backgrounds who have learned through the hands-on experimentation while developing small and midsize applications in PHP.
While there are many books on learning PHP and developing small applications with it, there is a serious lack of information on "scaling" PHP for large-scale, business-critical systems. Schlossnagle's Advanced PHP Programming fills that void, demonstrating that PHP is ready for enterprise Web applications by showing the reader how to develop PHP-based applications for maximum performance, stability, and extensibility.
About the Author
George Schlossnagle is a principal at OmniTI Computer Consulting, a Maryland-based tech company that specializes in high-volume Web and email systems. Before joining OmniTI, he led technical operations at several high-profile community Web sites, where he developed experience managing PHP in very large enterprise environments. He is a frequent contributor to the PHP community and his work can be found in the PHP core, as well as in the PEAR and PECL extension repositories. Before entering the information technology field, George trained to be a mathematician and served a two-year stint as a teacher in the Peace Corps. His experience has taught him to value an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving that favors root-cause analysis of problems over simply addressing symptoms.
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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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