On Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 10:12 AM, George Langley <george.lang...@shaw.ca>wrote:

> On 2011-09-29, at 8:53 AM, Andy McKenzie wrote:
> >> Is there something wrong with the PHP.net manual?  Or you just want
> >> something physical to be able read any where and stay unplugged?  If the
> >> latter and there's nothing wrong with the official manual, try
> downloading
> >> the chm or single html file and print as you go.  No need to lug around
> >> thick that manual/reference ;)
> >>
> >> Regards,
> >> Tommy
> >
> >
> > I didn't find that there was anything wrong with the PHP.net manual,
> > except that it wasn't a book about learning to program.  It's a
> > fantastic reference guide;  if I can't remember what order the inputs
> > to that one function go in, it's my first resort.  But I prefer to
> > read paper for learning theory, and I find it more useful to flip
> > through pages trying to find something I half remember than to click
> > through links.  Put simply, I like to learn the basics from books
> > rather than web pages.
> ----------
>        And as the OP said, something that they can carry around - websites
> don't always cut it on the morning commute! (Although I hope the OP wouldn't
> "smoke" anything!)
>        I too prefer books, as they are usually organized as a training
> course, starting you with the basics and walking you through a logical
> progression of learning, as well as giving real-world lessons and
> experience. Not saying that php.net is or isn't, but more often than not,
> the manuals that come with software are organized by sections or features,
> and do not give you the basics from which to start. It's no good to start
> with "This is the drawing tool", if you don't know how to create a canvas to
> draw on. Reference books/sites are good once you know the basics on proper
> techniques, best practices and sensible workflows, and you can now expand
> into the full features that the software can offer.
>        Plus, they can target your skills and desired learning - am
> currently researching Drupal, and have found some books that teach the
> basics on using it within its limits, and then others that teach how to
> build your own modules and plugins. Depending on what you are looking for,
> you can quickly target the skills you need to learn.
>        And, is easier to make your notes in the margins on a piece of
> paper!
>        Having said that, one of the main books I used for PHP was Apress'
>  "Beginning PHP and MySQL", which is now in a 4th edition:
> http://www.apress.com/9781430231141
> It provided a logical approach to both technologies and how to integrate
> them, all in one book.
>        Then get one that focuses on security. O'Reilly has one (or more),
> but the one I picked up was "Securing PHP Web Applications":
> http://www.amazon.ca/Securing-PHP-Applications-Tricia-Ballad/dp/0321534344
> and was a good read.
>        I just wish book publishers offered an upgrade path if you bought an
> earlier edition, the way software publishers do! Perhaps that will be the
> greatest advantage an iPad or Kobo will have over paper.
> George Langley
> Multimedia Developer

@Andy and George

>From the layout of the official manual, whilst it doesn't have the
traditional method of explaining as textbooks, to me, it does however
progress as you mentioned:

"Installation and Configuration" - same as any PHP book I've seen though the
other books may not explain all different methods and/or different platforms
as the official.  +1

"Language Reference"
- Basic Syntax
- Types
- Variables
- Constants
- Expressions
- Operators
- Control Structures
- Functions
- etc...


As for morning commute, if you're driving, you shouldn't be reading
anything. :) That's why I mentioned 'print'.  Printing as you read/progress
means carrying less than entire book.  Any decent book will range in about
400+ pages.  Another good side to printing as you go is that a thick book
wouldn't seem overwhelming for beginners as to how much information they
have to digest and absorb, especially someone who is new to IT and not used
to reading thick books/manuals.  As for the book giving real world
experiences, that's only to give you small idea of what you _may_
encounter.  Personally, I find that too broad and in depth to encompass in a
book unless it's a(n) auto/biography.  A good example to that is accessing
database.  How do you explain to someone new which he/she should use and
why:  straight access via client library, ODBC, PDO, abstraction/wrappers,
ORM, and/or any combination there of.  Although this requires some
understanding of PHP, I don't recall any book hinting or briefly explaining
all the possible methods of DB access.  A long time ago, I wrote an
abstraction wrapper that would allow me to access any DB that PHP supports
and allow simultaneous connections to same and/or different DBs because my
need was there.  That same wrapper would allow DB specific operations too.
IIRC, this was long before various PDO drivers, namely MS SQLServer, were
available and became popular.

For me learning PHP, the official manual is the only book that I've reached
the end.  Although, I have looked at other books including Beginning PHP *,
PHP * Bible, PHP * Cookbook, I've never completed from start to end
entirely, merely skipping around to see how the book explains some of the
key methods - primarily OOP and DB access - in event that something like
this would come up and I'd have to recommend a book :)


* implies 'and MySQL' or without

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