Beginning PHP 4by Wrox Press, Sean Cazzell, Jon Blank, Chris Ullman, Ganesh Prasad
This book assumes some familiarity with HTML and the mechanics of the web, but is for people new to PHP who want to start developing web applications. This includes HTML users, ASP and ColdFusion developers looking to learn a new platform and web development managers wanting to move development to Linux.
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For those of you who know little to nothing about PHP, or even programming in general, this is a good book to pick up. It goes through the motions of the most basic aspects of the language, and instructs the user in how to use them to build the coherent, professional whole. It even covers mailing and dynamic images. The only caveat is that one needs to either look at the 'final draft' of each work in progress as it goes through the chapter, or following the 'building' of a script step by step. Jumping in anywhere but the beginning or end of the chapter can become quite confusing.
I'm about two-thirds through this, and I am finding this a very useful book for learning more about PHP. What I like most is that after they introduce a new thing and show their example code, they then go the extra step and explain 'how this code works' for the specific example. This helps you put theory into practice. While this book is supposed to be for beginners who have never done any programming at all, probably a familiarity with basic concepts of another programming language would be helpful. Why 4 stars and not 5? It can be a little slow to slog through occasionally. And, occasionally it seems they show a more difficult way of implementing something than necessary.