Computer Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, September 2000
Page Two of Two

SAMS Teach Yourself MySQL in 21 Days by Mark Maslakowski

Sams, June 2000.
Trade Paperback, 532 pages.
ISBN: 0672319144
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SAMS Teach Yourself MySQL in 21 Days
by Mark Maslakowski This guide helps introduce web developers to MySQL, a powerful database tool that many webmasters are using to add online databases to their websites. This teach yourself course and reference guides readers through MySQL concepts and code over a 21-day period. Each chapter in the book is a new lesson to be completed and provides instruction, example code, example databases, definitions, screenshots, tables, Q&A and exercises to help readers grasp MySQL concepts. Some of the concepts covered in the reference include: installation, database design, normalization, database creation, tables and columns, data types, importing data, SQL queries, locks, keys, database interfaces, MyODBC, Perl DBI, PHP, Dates, Time, security and administration. The book also includes a handy reference section containing SQL syntax and commands and MySQL functions. The CD-Rom which comes with book contains source code from the book and third-party software.

Website developers who are new to web databases will find valuable information in this book to help them develop and create an effective MySQL database, as well as instruction on how to connect the database to the website, using different programming tools such as Perl and PHP. Teach Yourself MySQL in 21 Days is a solid introductory reference guide for the beginner who is just starting to work with MySQL and web databases.

SAMS Teach Yourself PHP4 in 24 Hours by Matt Zandstra

SAMS, June 2000.
Trade Paperback, 481 pages.
ISBN: 0672318040
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SAMS Teach Yourself PHP4 in 24 Hours
by Matt Zandstra Many webmasters have turned to PHP, an open source Web scripting language, for its quick and easy handling of web forms and for dealing with MySQL databases and other tasks where PHP can be used instead of a complicated and time-consuming CGI program. The book is divided into 24 chapters, each of which is meant to be a one-hour lesson. The lessons include question and answers, summaries and short quizzes in addition to the instruction and advice. PHP topics covered in the book include: PHP basics, functions, arrays, objects, forms, files, DBM functions, database integration, dynamic images, dates, data, strings, regular expressions, cookies, query strings and debugging. Many of the database examples in the book are written to work with MySQL, which is a good SQL database to work with because PHP provides functions for working with MySQL. The book provides example code and sample programs to help readers try out what they are learning and follow along with the book.

Author Matt Zandstra runs a web design firm, Corrosive Web Design, and has taught courses on PHP. Zandstra's PHP coding examples and instruction are very clear and the lessons build gradually through the book, but a more experienced programmer could easily jump around the book to find specific information. This reference is targeted towards beginners, but a basic knowledge of HTML is recommended. PHP 4 is a great programming tool for online forms and database administration and this guide helps webmasters get going quickly on the basics.

Web Application Development with PHP 4.0 by Tobias Ratschiller and Till Gerken

New Riders, April 2000.
Trade Paperback, 384 pages.
ISBN: 0735709971
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Web Application Development with PHP 4.0
by Tobias Ratschiller and Till Gerken This reference, which is aimed at more advanced web programmers, shows how PHP can be used to develop sophisticated applications. PHP has grown in usage because of its ease in handling forms and MySQL database, and this reference also touches on both of these uses. The first section of the book covers advanced PHP syntax, including object orientation, array functions, linked lists, associative arrays and self-modifying code. The second part of the book covers developing web applications including security issues, web application strategies, CVS, databases, PHPLib, XML and WDDX. Also provided are case studies about companies successfully using PHP in high-demand scenarios. A final section of the book is the official documentation on extending PHP 4.0 which shows you how to write your own modules to extend PHP's functionality.

The authors, Tobias Ratschiller, a new media consultant, and Till Gerken, a freelance Web developer, are very knowledgeable about PHP and all of the latest developments. They also manage a PHP website, This is a great reference that demonstrates real use of PHP to develop practical applications. The book assumes that the reader has at least some working knowledge of PHP and web programming. Novices to the language should try an introductory PHP reference first such as PHP Essentials or Teach Yourself PHP4 in 24 Hours.

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