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The PHP Anthology
Once past the beginning stages, a roadmap is necessary, because PHP can get pretty complicated. That's what makes it so great, the powerful features and constant development. The PHP Anthology is a book that's helpful to pros and easy enough for a PHP beginner to understand, and that's why it stood out for me. The purpose of the book is to provide solutions for the most common problems in PHP and offers cut-and-paste code (you can download it online) along with comprehensive explanations, an area where many tutorials fail.
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Navigating the bookRating
One thing that really makes this book useful is ease of navigation. The secitons and chapters make sense, and as a result, finding what you need is not a frustrating experience. Each chapter poses a common problem and explains the solution, and the chapters are designed to cover the most common PHP challenges in the major areas. Even the Introduction, an overview of PHP, provides useful information. Sections include Using Databases with PDO, Strings, Dates and Times,Forms, Tables, and Pretty URLs, Working with Files, Email, Images, and Error Handling, Access Control, Caching, XML and Web Services, and Best Practices.
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The PHP Anthology is a group effort by SitePoint writers — Davey Shafik, Matthew O'Phinney, Ligaya Turmelle, Harry Fuecks, and Ben Balbo — who seem to have plenty of experience with PHP, and certainly have published plenty of answers to user questions. This level of interactive experience with other programmers is endemic to understanding and identifying the problems most commonly experienced by all coders. In fact, the book states that very thing, that the questions answered in the book are the most commonly stated problems found on the forums at SitePoint.com, making them most likely the most common problems faced by all PHP programmers.
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The bottom line is that this book was designed, specifically, to be useful, and it is. It delivers what it promises in spades. A significant amount of information is provided to a PHP programmer at any level of expertise, in the form of common, everyday issues. Particularly valuable are discussions about why a particular approach was used and warnings about difficulties the reader might encounter when implementing the solutions found in the book in their own projects.