PHP, MySQL and Apache All in One, 2nd Edition

Author: Julie C. Meloni

Review by Iris Yoffa
Journal of the Tucson Computer Society
Tucson, Arizona

Looking for an informative and easy to understand beginner's level introduction to the web technologies of today? I was, and this volume really presented the topics in the title in plain English, not geek-crypto. By chapter 2 I was already typing commands for creating MySQL users and granting privileges and then issuing the command to revoke them.

The 587 pages are divided into 32 chapters, organized into seven sections. Each chapter ends with a Summary, Q&A section, and a Workshop with a quiz, answers and chapter related activities. The companion CD contains the files for all the examples in the book, and the 'starter kit' install-files for PHP 5.0.2, MySQL 4.0.21 and Apache 2.0.52 for Linux/Unix, Mac, and Windows. In addition, the installation and configuration instructions in the book also provide the web address for downloading installer packages for the particular OS you are using.

The introduction states that the book is geared for individuals who already have a basic understanding of a web-based development environment and their own operating system, and how to build (Linux/Unix) or install (Windows/Mac) software. Personally, I found this book to be a real hand-holder and as long as you can navigate your OS, an excellent introduction to web technologies. I should mention that I have had experience working in a web-based application environment, as well as with static web page creation.

What's between the covers? Part 1, Laying the Groundwork, begins with installing the software, both a QuickStart version and a more detailed version complete with configuration details. Part 2 is an excellent tutorial on the PHP language structure, the basics, flow control, functions, and arrays and objects. Part 3 focuses on the scripting of code that works with strings, date and times, forms, cookies and user sessions, files and directories, the server environment and images. Part 4 is all about integrating PHP and MySQL. We begin with a discussion of what good database design is, basic SQL commands and at last, using PHP to interact with MySQL. Part 5 leads us through creating six projects/applications, restricting access to the apps, using Apache logs, and accommodating localization issues. Part 6 covers administration related topics for Apache and MySQL, setting up a secure web server and the issue of software upgrades.

There is something about the way the author presents PHP, MySQL and Apache that make the topics very understandable. I was unfamiliar with PHP and Apache administration and found the examples easy to follow. The detailed explanations really made the process of creating scripts clear for me. The emphasis is on theory and understanding concepts, with plenty of code examples to try out for yourself. This is a style of learning that works for me.

In Summary:
I can confidently recommend this book to anyone interested in breaking into the arena of web development. The level of detailed explanation makes it a good choice for the beginner in the field of server based technologies.

Where to get it:
PHP, MySQL and Apache
All in One, Second Edition
Author: Julie C. Meloni
ISBN: 0-672-32725-2
SAMS Teach Yourself
800 East 96th Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46240
$34.99 USA