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PHP 5 in Practice 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael J. Ross writes "Computer programming books come in all varieties, but there are at least four general categories: introductory texts, which typically have the lowest content per page; language references, which have become increasingly supplanted by online sources; "advanced" treatments, which are often a mishmash of errata-riddled articles; and "how-to" books, usually at the intermediate level, and sometimes presented as "cookbooks." It is that last category that has been growing in popularity, and for good reason. When an experienced software developer needs assistance, it is rarely for language syntax, but instead a desire to see how someone else solved a specific problem. For solutions using the PHP language, one source of information is PHP 5 in Practice." Read the rest of Michael's review.
PHP 5 in Practice
author Elliott White III and Jonathan D. Eisenhamer
pages 456
publisher Sams Publishing
rating 8
reviewer Michael J. Ross
ISBN 0672328887
summary One of the most meaty, immediately useful, and fluff-free PHP books available


The book was authored by Elliott White III and Jonathan D. Eisenhamer, and put out in July 2006 by Sams Publishing (an imprint of Pearson Education). Given today's standards of hefty technical books, this particular one is relatively light, weighing in at 456 pages, which are organized into an introduction, numerous chapters, and three appendices.

Its introduction is more interesting than that of most similar books, whose introductions usually consist of formatting conventions and explanations as to why the book was written — all such content providing little to no value to the impatient programmer facing a deadline, and invariably ignored (the content, that is, not the deadline).

White and Eisenhamer took a refreshingly different tack, and chose instead to explain their use of coding standards, comments and whitespace, braces and parentheses, PHP short tags, PHP mode, and other language considerations that are more useful than the typical rundown of somewhat childish icons used in other texts, such as light bulbs and red warning signs.

Switching to the other end of the book, we find three appendices. The first one briefly discusses issues one might face in migrating from PHP version 4 to 5. The second introduces the Standard PHP Library (SPL), and the objects related to its primary design pattern, the Iterator. The third appendix discusses what composes the bulk of output from my PHP programs: error messages. Seriously, this appendix is worth reading, if only for the suggestions as to what to look for when you encounter some of the most common PHP error messages.

The bulk of the book's material is divided into 20 chapters, which are themselves divided into two parts: PHP internals, and applications. The internals are: strings, numbers, time and date, variables, arrays, functions, classes and objects, and files and directories. Starting off with a discussion of strings, might seem odd to the neophyte programmer, but to the veteran who has had to learn several languages during their career, the choice makes a lot of sense. There must be countless developers out there who, being fluent in the C language and object-oriented concepts, jumped into writing their first C++ program, and had to hit the books for the first time when they wanted to do some non-array-based string handling.

The book's second part covers some of the most common applications in PHP programming: Web page creation (using XHTML and CSS), Web form handling, data validation and standardization, sessions and user tracking, Web services and other protocols, relational databases and other data storage methods, e-mail, XML, images, error reporting and debugging, and user authentication and encryption. That last chapter, in the next edition, should be relocated so that it precedes or follows the chapter on sessions and user tracking.

Many of the chapters begin with a "Quick Hits" section, which briefly summarizes how to perform many of the most common and essential tasks related to that chapter's topic. For instance, in the chapter covering the use of variables, this first section explains how to: check if a variable has no value or if it is empty (not synonymous in PHP), undefine a variable, cast it to a certain data type, and do the same thing for a value. There is one minor erratum that should be noted: On page 71, in the first "Quick Hit," it reads "a variable has bee. given a value." ("been"'s "n" ended too soon.)

Each section within the chapter briefly explains the problem domain, and then presents sample code to solve the given problem. The code itself is fairly well commented, and the variable names are adequately descriptive (unlike in some programming books, whose coding standards border on the criminal).

All in all, the book offers a lot of worthwhile solutions to a wide range of problems, and does so in a straightforward manner. It is for this reason that it is not evident as to why this particular PHP title has received so little notice. For instance, on Amazon.com, it has received only one reader review, as of this writing, and does not even make it into the top quarter million books ranked in sales by Amazon.com. It is a pity, because the book deserves much more attention.

Even though this book is to be recommended, and is packed with code and text that are well worth studying, it has one unmistakable weakness for which this writer can think of no adequate justification. The book contains almost no illustrations, even when they are clearly called for — in fact, especially in those cases. For instance, the section that shows how to generate a calendar, does not show a calendar! The code is present, but the sample output — which is what the poor reader would appreciate, to see the results of the code — is missing.

Granted, an absence of figures and screenshots might be understandable for the first part of the book, which covers the PHP language itself. But the second part, covering applications, has far too many unillustrated PHP scripts. These include sections focusing on drop-down menus, progress bars, and graphical charts Web forms. In the last chapter, there is a section with code that generates captchas, but the reader is not shown what they look like. The entire 18th chapter is devoted to images, but contains not a single one! I cannot imagine why the authors and/or publisher chose to leave out these essential graphics. Was it to save money? Whatever the reason, it was a significant mistake, and one that should be corrected in the next edition.

Readers who agree with this assessment, or who have other thoughts concerning this otherwise excellent book, can leave feedback via the book's Web page on the Web site for Sams Publishing. This page offers details on the book, a description and table of contents, links for requesting instructor or review copies, and a tool for searching the book's contents within the Safari online technical library. The book's introduction states that the Web site hosts all of the code listings, as well as a list of errata. Yet, I was unable to find either one. (Sadly, the Pearson Education sites are still some of the least usable in the technical book publishing world.) Much better results were obtained on Eli White's site.

Despite an inexcusable and almost complete lack of needed illustrations, PHP 5 in Practice is possibly one of the most meaty, immediately useful, and fluff-free PHP books available. No serious PHP programmer should be without it.

Michael J. Ross is a Web consultant, freelance writer, and the editor of PristinePlanet.com's free newsletter. He can be reached at www.ross.ws, hosted by SiteGround.


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PHP 5 in Practice

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  • by Larsiny (753559) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:31PM (#17986704)

    When an experienced software developer needs assistance, it is rarely for language syntax, but instead a desire to see how someone else solved a specific problem.
    Is that really true? I find myself more the opposite where I know how to solve a problem theoretically but I need to know the exact syntax (and sometimes even the libraries/classes already available) to allow me to do what I want. Is this because I'm only a recent (2 yrs) CS grad? Isn't this the normal way to approach the problem due to the myriad languages used out there? It seems to me this might be true only if you're very familiar with a particular language and are trying to use that for everything which may or may not be possible.
    • by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:37PM (#17986792)
      Is that really true? I find myself more the opposite where I know how to solve a problem theoretically but I need to know the exact syntax (and sometimes even the libraries/classes already available) to allow me to do what I want. Is this because I'm only a recent (2 yrs) CS grad? Isn't this the normal way to approach the problem due to the myriad languages used out there? It seems to me this might be true only if you're very familiar with a particular language and are trying to use that for everything which may or may not be possible.

      Congratulations, you have discovered the difference between "experienced software developers" and computer scientists. Computer scientists know what they need to do and how to do it, so long as they can express it in the language they're using. Experienced software developers often know incredible amounts of detail about programming languages, but not necessarily about advanced algorithms and data structures.
      • Computer scientists know what they need to do and how to do it, so long as they can express it in the language they're using. Experienced software developers often know incredible amounts of detail about programming languages, but not necessarily about advanced algorithms and data structures.

        So does that make Computer Scientists better? Or software developers? Which is more important, knowing advanced algorithms and data structures, or knowing the intricate details of a programming language so you can optimize that much more.

        I'm just a lowly college student (EE) so I don't know the answer.

        • by tha_mink (518151)

          So does that make Computer Scientists better? Or software developers? Which is more important, knowing advanced algorithms and data structures, or knowing the intricate details of a programming language so you can optimize that much more.
          I suppose if you're 100% of one and 0% of the other, you're pretty much useless. I don't think it's a better or worse situation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dkf (304284)

          Which is more important, knowing advanced algorithms and data structures, or knowing the intricate details of a programming language so you can optimize that much more.

          Knowing about algorithms and data structures is more important than knowing the detailed specifics of any particular language, since they illustrate more different ways to tackle a problem and seem to be harder to learn (well, for many people). It's also good to know lots of different languages, again because it effectively gives you more too

        • by tknd (979052)
          They're both equally important.

          For example you can know that the Quicksort algorithm has the best characteristics for your task but be forced to implement it in a language you don't know OR you can know that someone else implemented Quicksort in your language and not know if it's properties are what you need. In both cases where you only know one or the other, you are using time. If you knew both, you potentially used zero time (knew it was the right algorithm for the task, knew that the language or a libra
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jadavis (473492)
          If you're an experienced developer, you'll be able to apply the right tools for the problem in a way that interfaces with complex business processes. You'll complete jobs quickly and have a lot of happy customers. However, sometimes customers might become unhappy if your solution doesn't continue to work for their changing needs, or becomes expensive to maintain or alter. You might occasionally surprise clients with additional cost because a tool you used doesn't work well for a new demand.

          If you're a compu
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nadamsieee (708934)

        Congratulations, you have discovered the difference between "experienced software developers" and computer scientists. Computer scientists know what they need to do and how to do it, so long as they can express it in the language they're using. Experienced software developers often know incredible amounts of detail about programming languages, but not necessarily about advanced algorithms and data structures.

        And true software engineers know both. :)

      • by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp@frees h e ll.org> on Monday February 12, 2007 @06:30PM (#17989264) Homepage Journal
        I take it you're a computer scientist. :)

        As someone who knows fourteen programming languages, but also has a degree in CS with a minor in math, the reason for the that practice among software developers is not because they don't know how (although, admittedly, I've met a few who probably couldn't write low level stuff for themselves), but because there's a best practice way of doing a lot of stuff in any given environment.

        In other words, you try to do things the same way that most people who use the language do it so that your code can be used by other people, and so that you can use other people's code to help you do it. Otherwise you have to reinvent the wheel a lot.

        Programming languages are a math unto themselves. It's pattern recognition, and "speaking" the languages is the crux of most of it. A CS program should teach you how to learn them quickly. The seasoned programmer, whether CS grad or experienced developer, should be the ability to think in different languages by understanding the differences in their patterns.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drooling-dog (189103)
        Most often what I'm looking for in example code is not an algorithm, but rather an idea of what available functions, classes, and idioms address the problem at hand (and how to use them). That's usually the biggest nuisance when jumping between multiple languages, especially when they're used infrequently.
      • by stry_cat (558859)
        I disagree. I've never taken any CS class. I've been using PHP since version 3. I still find myself hitting php.net to know the syntax of a lot of functions. Generally I have mapped out what should happen and have an idea as to the specifics, but I usually can't recall the syntax of the functions. Most of the places I've worked will have one or two people who know the syntax (yelling across the cubes is almost as fast as bringing up php.net), but the rest have a good grasp of how to solve their problem
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by biz0r (656300)

      ... I find myself more the opposite where I know how to solve a problem theoretically but I need to know the exact syntax ...

      Thats a problem where you are not familiar enough with the syntax of a language. I would probably guess its because of your limited experience with it.

      ... and sometimes even the libraries/classes already available) to allow me to do what I want. ...

      Thats a problem that even very experienced developers hit often, this is exactly what you were talking about in your (the parent to this

    • I find myself more the opposite where I know how to solve a problem theoretically but I need to know the exact syntax
      Isn't that what a language reference/online help is for? I believe TFA said that.
    • by misleb (129952)

      Is that really true? I find myself more the opposite where I know how to solve a problem theoretically but I need to know the exact syntax (and sometimes even the libraries/classes already available) to allow me to do what I want. Is this because I'm only a recent (2 yrs) CS grad?

      Yes.

      Isn't this the normal way to approach the problem due to the myriad languages used out there? It seems to me this might be true only if you're very familiar with a particular language and are trying to use that for everything

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimstapleton (999106)
      I'm the same way, but I've been programming for 10 years. I'm more likely to get tripped up on quirks of a language, even one I know well, than to not be able to figure out an algorithm to solve a problem.

      Actually the most common problem is usually a small typo, that I don't see for three hours...
      • Actually the most common problem is usually a small typo, that I don't see for three hours...

        Heh, I know those little gotchas better than I'd like. It seems no matter how experienced I am with the language du jour [ldj], I'm going to lose some time to one or two of those guys every week.

        But when I'm starting work in a language that is pretty new to me— PHP at the moment— what I'm most uncomfortable about is whether I'm choosing a suitable approach to the problem at hand. For an instance, with parsing and lexing issues, Perl's regular expressions make for some elegant ways to finesse

    • Can't you do both at the same time? When I need help with a problem I usually have a vague idea of HOW I want it to get done, but not necessarily the proper syntax. If I can find a book/article/reference that shows me the problem solution, then isn't its syntax already included? In that case, what is wrong with looking up a way to solve the problem, seeing as they both give the correct answer?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      Is that really true? I find myself more the opposite where I know how to solve a problem theoretically but I need to know the exact syntax (and sometimes even the libraries/classes already available) to allow me to do what I want. Is this because I'm only a recent (2 yrs) CS grad?

      Yes, but I think it also speaks to the level of challenge to your comfort you've been faced with. There are three major roadblocks programmers run into:

      1. Language syntax. This should mostly cure itself over time.
      2. Algorithm
    • by Jack9 (11421)
      When you are asked to do serious work, it's about the most efficient way which has inevitably been worked out by someone else with a bigger budget and more time. The rest of the people claiming that a good programmer already knows how, have been solving the trivial for so long they can't imagine the larger problems that experienced programmers face.
    • I have this same problem with Lisp. I can never remember where the parentheses go!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:36PM (#17986768)
    Chapter 1 will discuss building PHP CLI classes that download and install OpenJDK. Chapters 2-22 will teach you Java.
    • Chapter 1 must be 320 pages long because that's how hard it is to install jboss/tomcat. At least you will be providing documentation for it though, something the java community hasn't done in 10 years.
  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:41PM (#17986878) Journal
    I'm a bit disappointed to read in the book review that there wasn't a chapter dedicated to security. Considering that PHP will let you do things like do external includes from other web servers that can modify your PHP environment, etc...

    What PHP needs is not more features, but better designed security model.
    • What PHP needs is not more features, but better designed security model.

      While improvements in security should be high on the list of PHP development objectives I think PHP gets a bad rap for what are short comings in the design and coding of the applications written in PHP.

      Many PHP applications are designed to use a single database user for all queries against the application database thus providing the equivalent of admin or root access to the application database if a security bug is found in PHP or in th

    • Considering that PHP will let you do things like do external includes from other web servers that can modify your PHP environment, etc...

      allow_url_include is Off in php.ini-recommended. You have to do something wrong to allow external includes.
      • Just for giggles I just installed php on this machine (it wasn't previously) and this is what I found...

        [root@lnx_10kclust etc]# grep allow_url /etc/php.ini
        allow_url_fopen = On

        Here's the problem... in *most* cases, people just install the software and unless they have to change a default value, they won't. What PHP should do is have this feature turned off by default and then state in the ini file why it's turned off and by turning it on what the ramifications of that would be.

        I guess I'm just one of thos
        • allow_url_include *is* Off by default. It's available since 5.2, which was released over 3 months ago. It's also PHP_INI_SYSTEM so you have to change it in your php/server config. There you are - shoot yourself in the foot made optional.

          allow_url_fopen is still On by default, because it's used in fopen(), file_get_contents(), ... You could turn it off and use i.e. curl, but that won't make the code more secure.
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      Considering that PHP will let you do things like do external includes from other web servers that can modify your PHP environment, etc...
      What PHP needs is not more features, but better designed security model.


      Noone is putting a gun on your head to do an external include on a random external file.

      *Any* reasonably flexible language allows you to shoot yourself in the foot, if you so desire. This is why serious programming is best kept away from little children.
  • I think... (Score:5, Funny)

    by e2ka (708498) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:56PM (#17987110) Homepage
    thissounds() like_a_really() interestingBook()
  • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:57PM (#17987114)
    A few years back (circa 2002), I whipped up a rapid application prototype with PHP while working off from some on-line tutorials and using Beginning Php 4 from Wrox. I think the book and the tutorials were good a teaching the basic language features and syntax, but they taught me to use PHP dangerously because they did not teach good practices. My application worked but never got out of the prototype/demo stage back then for business reasons. Recently, I went back to it on my own time to try to clean it up, move it to PHP5, and make it deployable. I now cringe with horror at the extremely bad practices I was using back then. Granted, it was just a prototype, but I thought I was doing it "right" because I was following the examples in the book and the tutorials. I was doing stuff like accepting form data and passing it to the DB with out validation, outputting user submitted variables without checking for XSS, registering globals, etc, etc, etc. I was doing the kind of things that give me nightmares now.

    So here is my point, all the tutorials, examples, and books that the neophytes are using to learn are _WRONG_. They are teaching _BAD_PRACTICES_. Because PHP is necessarily meant to be in a network environment (excluding the rarely used cli) and it WILL be exposed to potential maliciousness, secure practices should be taught markedly at the beginning, not as an aside. So as part of teaching how to pass form parameters they should include validation code, even if they have to comment that section as " /* trust us on this part for now, we'll show you how this part works latter, just remember you always have to validate the input before you use it */".

    I think PHP is a great language for its purpose, which is simple web-apps. Lots of the criticism about its brain-dead defaults is correct, but they can be overcome with good practices by the application developer. PHP can be great, but it is typically taught wrong at the beginning and that just snowballs.

    The editors and authors all the PHP books and tutorials out there need to make sure the new editions encapsulate good practice at the beginning of the learning process.

    first disclaimer- I haven't read this particular book. I hope it is better than the other PHP books to which my comments apply.

    Second, disclaimer- this is mostly a repost from my post [slashdot.org] at this discussion ( PHP Application Insecurity - PHP or Devs Fault? [slashdot.org])

    • So here is my point, all the tutorials, examples, and books that the neophytes are using to learn are _WRONG_. They are teaching _BAD_PRACTICES_.

      Yes. Sort of.

      I first encountered this when I was involved along with 2 or 3 other guys in helping a neophyte Delphi programmer write an inventory system for her husband's plumbing business. This was back in the days before time, when the intarweb was still Darpanet so all of us were using CompuServe. She would run into a snag trying to apply something from Jeff's book or the Borland manuals, post about it, and we would try to help her figure out why it wasn't working in her application.

      After a while,

    • I am so tired of the thousands and thousands of PHP "programming" books available. But I have not been able to find a really good PHP book that goes beyond just showing you the available syntax of PHP and instead describing different advanced and adequate (secure, crash-free, intelligent) way to do things. This is true for a lot of programming languages. I am looking for a book with "best practices" for the language in different areas. In the case of PHP it is quite trivial (compared to say, Java or C++) as
  • In the last chapter, there is a section with code that generates captchas, but the reader is not shown what they look like.

    What the hell? How can you write about captchas without showing pictures?

    Here is a good example. Note the varying font and background noise.
    Here is a bad example. Note the uniform font and straight lettering.
    How else do you get this point across properly?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I recently finished up Gone With The Wind. Would you consider this book:

    A. Funnier than GWTW
    B. Just as funny as GWTW
    C. Not as funnier as GWTW

    Your valued insight into this fine work would be greatly appreciated and it would help me make my next book purchase easier.

    Thanks in advance.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:31PM (#17987580) Homepage

    Another one of those huge low-density books of examples. Do we really need another one.

    What's really hard today is finding a good reference manual. The original manual for Algol was 17 pages. The original manual for Scheme was 21 pages. 456 pages for PHP is a bit much. A big plastic card that boiled the language down to two pages - now that would be useful.

  • by LuckyStarr (12445) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:49PM (#17987836)
    PHP books are good for one thing - making some money for the author(s). That being out of the way, here comes the rant:

    With languages like Ruby, Python, Perl, etc. around, why bother with PHP?

    PHP has:

    It does however have a good documentation. Without it though, programming PHP would be impossible. Try coding PHP without the documentation at hand.

    "Was it function_name($foo, $bar) or functionname($bar, $foo)? Or rather prefix_function_name($foo,$bar,$baz) where $baz is always empty?"

    I could go on and on. These are just the facts. What I ignored are the countless hours I wasted trying to debug some perfectly good looking piece of code only to find out in the end that PHP is the problem. On that occasions PHP ate away a part of my soul. (pretty poignant, eh?)

    And yes, in case you wonder, I did very large PHP stuff. Megabytes of code in CVS. Luckily no more. (Could be written in kilobytes of Ruby anyway.)
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by tha_mink (518151)

      I could go on and on. These are just the facts. What I ignored are the countless hours I wasted trying to debug some perfectly good looking piece of code only to find out in the end that PHP is the problem. On that occasions PHP ate away a part of my soul. (pretty poignant, eh?)

      Are you SURE it was PHP? I wonder how you could spend "countless hours" debugging PHP code? I've been at the PHP language for years and the one thing you CAN say about PHP vs other languages is that it shouldn't take "countless hours" to debug. I mean...countless hours? Ate your soul? Perhaps programming isn't really for you. Maybe sales? or marketing?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LuckyStarr (12445)

        Are you SURE it was PHP? I wonder how you could spend "countless hours" debugging PHP code? I've been at the PHP language for years and the one thing you CAN say about PHP vs other languages is that it shouldn't take "countless hours" to debug. I mean...countless hours? Ate your soul? Perhaps programming isn't really for you. Maybe sales? or marketing?

        You are right. It shouldn't take countless hours to debug. Note my emphasis. Debugging code written by a sane developer in any sane language would not take co

        • by kv9 (697238)

          Yet the world is full of programmers which abuse PHP to a level where you start to get the feeling that a complete rewrite of "the thing" is "the way to go"

          so is it the language's fault or the programmers fault? you seem a bit confused.

      • by georgeb (472989)
        Amusingly enough I have encountered the same sort of frustration that the grandparent post author has. Just never ever try to write a SOAP server using the core SOAP module :D I mean it, you will go insane in a matter of days. Even for day-to-day tasks, because PHP makes simplicity it's creed you will run into all sorts of problems the minute you grow your project into something bigger. Most of the problems I have run into were undocumented or poorly documented "features", I'll admit, but on occasion the d
    • by Khuffie (818093)
      I needs to look into this Ruby thing. Can you recommend any good Ruby books? I know there's plenty of stuff online, but I'd much rather read through a book for stuff like this.
      • by LuckyStarr (12445)
        Well, theres why's (poignant) guide to ruby [poignantguide.net] which is licensed under creative commons. So it could be that somebody made a book on demand out of it. Personally I used "Programming Ruby" of which the first edition [rubycentral.com] is also available online. "Rails Recipes" is a very good reference book for repeating patterns using Ruby on Rails. Rails though also has it's annoyances so I am trying to find an excuse to build something with Django and Python.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)
      I'd go on and say that IMO (which genuinely is humble, as I'm a sysadmin who's prepared to look at and tweak code if necessary, rather than a fulltime dev), PHP has promulgated an entire mass of badly written, badly commented, ill conceived code.

      Sure, it's possible to write bad code in any language. But PHP is like the BASIC of the web. Popular, (yes, there was a time BASIC was popular) yet treated with contempt because it's just so easy to shoot yourself hard in the foot. At least with C, you usually kn
    • With languages like Ruby, Python, Perl, etc. around, why bother with PHP?

      Hide the kids; here comes another language/paradigm holy war....
                 
    • With regard to the link you provided under "no usable object-model" - I would have to agree with the PHP developers on that one. self::$var or self::CONSTANT is supposed to bind statically. That is how self is supposed to work and actually what the bug reporter was trying to achieve is impossible in C# too AFAIK.

      Namespaces are upcoming in PHP6 (again, AFAIK).

      The rest of the observations are correct to the best of my knowledge and make PHP quite a horrible choice for all projects beyond a certain complexity
      • by nuzak (959558)
        > Namespaces are upcoming in PHP6 (again, AFAIK).

        That's nice. Is not segfaulting when the stack depth is exceeded also a planned "feature"? Because every report on the problem is still WONTFIX.

        Picking on PHP just isn't worth the effort anymore. Nor is waiting for it to be fixed.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tknd (979052)

        Personally I wouldn't think of Perl as a substitute, even though I understand in many respects Perl is superior to PHP, I just find it difficult to make the right choices when it comes to picking a module for a given job. I think Perl suffers from a lot of duplicated effort, there is no concerted effort to establish a de facto framework of modules.

        In perl's defense, I think that's sometimes the biggest reason I choose perl over the others. The good thing about duplicating or reinventing the wheel is some

      • The rest of the observations are correct to the best of my knowledge and make PHP quite a horrible choice for all projects beyond a certain complexity threshold.

        You are wrong because you obviously don't have experience in this area. PHP is quite capable for deploying large, enterprise-grade (not judged by the number of users using it, but by the quality of the processes involved and the business functionality it serves) software without a lot of headaches.

        I treasure PHP and all of its shortcomings an
        • by georgeb (472989)
          I am sorry to disappoint you. Unfortunately I have quite vast experience with PHP, more that I should have, used in very large applications, both in number of users and in terms of complexity (code and workflow). I have been using PHP since PHP3 on and with each iteration of the package I have been waiting for the inconsistencies to go away and for the mess to get organized.

          I fail to see how one can treasure the shortcomings and inconsistencies of a development language (especially give that you expect t
    • I have a hard time believing you really worked with PHP for any length of time. While some of your points are in the ballpark of valid, for the most part you're just repeating the PHP slander I hear all over the internet. The fact is you can shoot yourself in the foot in any language. The reason PHP takes so much heat is because it's free,it's popular and it's extremely easy to learn and so it's easy for beginners to make mistakes like not filtering/validating user input and not escaping output, but any exp
      • by LuckyStarr (12445)
        Let me tell you something about the slander you hear all over the internet: It's all true.
        • that's a pretty strong argument. With all those facts you just pointed out, I guess I have no choice but to concede.
          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            He linked to them. Most of them are WONTFIXes right from PHP's bug tracking system. What the fuck more evidence do you require?

    • As someone who's spent more than 4 years with PHP, I couldn't agree with you more. The only thing PHP has going for it is that it is widely supported among web hosts. I also think that Ruby and Python syntax may scare off a lot of people, whereas PHP is pretty much C syntax.
    • no first-class functions (and no, create_function does not count)
      Not all programming languages have and need this.

      no usable object-model (check out response of developer below!)
      self is bound at compile time. That's how it's defined. If you want to create active records like in Ruby just wait for PHP6 (currently the keyword is static).

      problems with recursion
      Infinite recursion is a problem in all programming languages - and a mistake. Several extensions help to avoid the segfault.

      countless other horrible mi
      • by nuzak (959558)
        > self is bound at compile time

        Wow. That alone is enough to just make me double and triple take with WTF's. The very construct that is supposed to represent late binding in every other language is deliberately and specifically early-bound in PHP. In an otherwise duck-typed language, even. It's like the PHP devs read a book on object oriented design and then designed the language specifically to defeat it.

        • self:: in PHP is not the same as self. or this. in other languages. It seems like you're describing $this, which does refer to the current instance (you could call that late binding if you're into buzzwords).
    • That's why Smart Developers (C) use http://cakephp.org/ [cakephp.org] ;)
    • "It does however have a good documentation. Without it though, programming PHP would be impossible. Try coding PHP without the documentation at hand." You're right, knowing the classes and libraries for different languages is always so easy..... you are just born with it right? What I'm trying to say is that any language, including php, can be manipulated to suit your needs with knowledge of the basic syntax. And like any language, when you want to take some shortcuts and make use of some helpful librarie
    • I could not agree more. PHP has been a nighmare for me _because_ I've a strong programming background (>15y) in various other languages (C, perl, objc, c++, etc). Everything I could find in PHP was either "unconventional" (read: different for no good reason), buggy or simply horribly flawed. I wasted days understanding the (lack of) logic of the whole thing, not mentioning crashes and such.

      I believe people hate php as much as they have experience in programming (and inversely, beginners usually enjoy it)
  • by tedhiltonhead (654502) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:59PM (#17987984)
    > PHP 5 In Practice

    Way shorter book summary:

    Don't.
  • I've gotta agree with some of the presuppositions and points in this review. PHP - in the right hands - is a powerful language. It's great that you can whip things up quickly. But too many of the books go through the fairly simple bits in mind-numbing detail (like, I know what an array is). Thanks to Eclipse and oXygen, most of the time that I'm at a screen, my editor can load the documentation in to a panel while I'm typing it (along with remembering class names, variable names and so on). If I'm coding PH
  • More good PHP Books (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nugsack (219073)

    Here is a good source for browsing PHP Book Reviews [top-books.org]. PHP In Practice [top-books.org] hasn't made the top 50 yet.

  • Rank this book if you've read it!
    http://www.programmingbooks.org/PHP [programmingbooks.org]

    There's a lot of horrible programming books out there. I wrote this web app to help programmers easily find the good ones. Basically programmers rank their top 5 books based on category(in this case, php books). It only works if people use it though, so rank the good programming books you've read!
  • So instead of pages of useless screenshots this book decided to go with content? What a gaping flaw! There are many books on PHP full of screenshots and little else if that's your thing. I see it as a bonus - if you want to see the screenshot you'll have to start doing some coding. Personally, I like PHP for a quick and dirty script, but would not recommend it for a project that was larger than around 3 lines of code.
  • Can someone point me at a torrent of the eBook version?

    (I kid, I kid)
  • Same sh*t another day.
    Some uber programmers doens't like PHP because of someting else... Then start to bashing again and again

    Php can't do this, can't do that. Php can't scale, Php was ugly, yada yada yada....

    First purpose of Php was templating engine for HTML.

    Other things comes afer.

    Also, Zend try to add OOP. WHY? Why we need OOP aproach, run once scripts...

    In php you cannot store objects in the Memory by default... (if you not use Memcaced/Seralize things)

    I still don't get it. It was stateless universe. E

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