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Over the past few years, students taking my Perl/CGI course continued to ask me when I would be graduating from CGI to PHP, and whether I would offer a course or write a PHP “by Example” book. I didn’t really take the idea of a book seriously until attending a PHP/MySQL class here in San Francisco a few years ago, where I met Marko Gargenta, who was the teacher of that class and the inspiration for this book. We had lunch together and I mentioned to him that the girl sitting next to me in the class was a Web designer, with little programming experience. She was concerned that she couldn’t keep up with the class and wondered if I knew where she could find a book that explained PHP for designers, not just programmers. Marko had heard similar concerns from his students. We talked about how to address this issue, and from that conversation, the seeds were sown for PHP and MySQL by Example.
Although, theoretically, the Web designer/developer should need no PHP programming experience to change the content of a page, and the programmer should be concerned only with the logic, such as calculations, sending data to a database, and so on, they do not always work in isolation. For example, suppose a page is designed so that when the user enters bank information in an HTML form, a PHP program, after doing some calculations, finds that there are insufficient funds, and sends back an error in a bold red font. In such a case, PHP and HTML are integrated—one to calculate and produce the error message, the other to display it in a bold red font. Keeping the design and program logic separated may be the goal, but it is often impossible with the complexities of today’s Web development.
And then there is the issue of the database management system. Where does the processed data get stored? Who designs the database and its tables? Who administers it? How does the information get from the Web page, to the PHP program, and then to the database? Enter MySQL. Is this yet another world in isolation?
Since my first meeting with Marko, I was challenged to bring these technologies together. When Prentice Hall agreed to publish our book, the learning curve was steep, and after the initial draft was done, I began teaching “An Introduction to PHP and MySQL Programming” from the PDF version of that first draft. I noticed that more Web designers were signing up than programmers, and they came in with trepidation that it would be way over their heads. But with the real-world examples and labs we provided, they started to enjoy feelings of success on the first morning. It was wonderful to witness both designers and programmers sharing their experiences without the artificial boundary that has kept them isolated from each other in the workplace.
The mission of PHP and MySQL by Example is to create a gentle yet thorough introduction to the shared power of PHP and MySQL, to make static HTML pages dynamic. The labs and exercises have been tested by myself, Marko, and our students. I think you will find this “by Example” book a helpful and complete guide, no matter what side of the Web site you support, or even if you are just starting your own.
Many people helped with the creation of this book. I’d like to thank Mark L. Taub, my longtime editor at Prentice Hall; Vanessa Moore, the most gifted compositor on the planet; and Julie Nahil, a great production editor. Matthew Leingang, Sander van Zoest, David Mercer, and Jason Wertz provided extremely helpful manuscript reviews. Any remaining mistakes are my own.
I’d also like to thank the students in my classes who provided valuable input for the labs. These include Rita McCue, Sanjay Shahri, Ryan Belcher, Debra Anderson, and Catherine Nguyen.
The fantastic illustrations in the book were created by Elizabeth Staechelin and Daniel Staechelin. And many thanks to the artists who provided artwork for the art gallery example. They are Elliott Easterling, Laura Blair, Stuart Sheldon, and Todd Brown.
Errata and solutions to the labs can be found on the book’s Web site at www.prenhallprofessional.com/title/0131875086. The Northwind database script, used in the chapters, can be found at http://marakana.com/download/sql/northwind.sql.
Ellie Quigley San Francisco, California September 2006