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beginning-php-mysqlBeginning PHP and MySQL: From Novice to Professional, Third Edition, offers a comprehensive introduction to two of the most prominent open source technologies on the planet: the PHP scripting language and the MySQL database server. It's the third edition of W. Jason Gilmore's very successful book that has sold in excess of 13,000 units over the previous two editions, and it's been updated to cover the new features in PHP as that language makes the very significant jump from version 5 to version 6.

Essentially three books in one, readers not only profit from extensive introductions to the core features of each technology, but also learn how to effectively integrate the two in order to build robust data-driven applications. Packed with practical examples and insight into the real-world challenges faced by developers based on the author’s seven years of expertise working with these technologies, readers will repeatedly return to this book as both a valuable instructional tool and reference guide.

A beginning PHP book, not a beginning programming book. The subtitle, 'From Novice to Professional', can be a tad misleading for the novice coder. A beginning programming book covers a lot of material that this book assumes the reader already understands. Many software books include a 'Who Is This Book For' section that offers some guidance on the suitable reader knowledge level, not this one.

That said, I found this book to be very helpful. The sections on installing and configuring Apache, PHP and MySQL certainly saved me many hours of reading the online documentation and tweaking of settings while setting up my local test bed. That, in itself, made me a very happy camper. The author goes on to cover the various aspects from the basics of the PHP language and class libraries to topics like Authentication, Security, Session Handlers and eMail functionality that help anyone new to PHP setup some fairly sophisticated site capabilities.

The second edition has been supplemented with an added 200 pages, including a new section on PEAR (PHP Extension and Application Repository). This is a wealth of prewritten classes and packages that can be used to add even more sophisticated functionality to the novice's web development toolbox. The author demonstrates several of the more prominent packages.

The second edition has greatly beefed up with additional coverage of MySQL 5, including chapters on stored procedures, triggers and the PHP mysqli extension (all missed in the first edition). Most of the examples offered are clean and general enough to be useful templates for the reader's tailoring.

My suggestion for novices to PHP is read through chapter 9, then skip to the various sections that solve specific problems being faced or are of particular interest, including installing and configuring your local test bed.

Bottom line, the first edition was a good book for intermediate to veteran programmers looking for a quick tutorial on PHP (circa version 5.0); the second edition is even better. Novice programmers should ensure that they have a full understanding of the basics of programming (and OOP) before attempting it. I would now use this book to teach a class on PHP.