A Great Way to Learn PHP Coding at Lunch

Learn to Code in Your Free Time
Now all you need for lunch is a book.


I am a lunch reader.  Always have been.   Give me a half-hour to forty-five minutes and I will break out a newspaper and start catching up on yesterday’s happenings.  I recently decided to make my lunchtime habit a bit more productive,  though, by reading a chapter a day (give or take, sometimes I do like a lunchtime nap) from PHP & MySQL : The Missing Manual.

The Missing Manual

Published by the good people at O’Reilly, PHP & MySQL : The Missing Manual aims to teach the average user (they wrote for an Advanced Beginner or Intermediate level of techy-ness) how to begin creating applications in PHP.   By the end of the book, the reader will have created a website where users can securely login, create a profile, and log out.  Not necessarily the most exciting application ever put to code, but one that runs a user through a heap of useful PHP & MySQL functions: writing SQL commands, creating tables, getting information from users, retrieving that information from a database, and authenticating and authorizing users.

Learn PHP to Improve Your WordPress Skills
Now all you need for lunch is a sandwich.

More Importantly…

But that is only half of the value of a foundation-forming book like this.  What it really ought to do is to teach the reader how to think and act like a real, honest-to-goodness programmer.  And that it does:

  • Before each task, the author clearly lays out what the code intends to accomplish and what will need to be done to accomplish that task.
  • You code, test, code, and test again, even when the application is not quite ready, if only to understand what an aspiring programmer should always be doing.
  • Error logging and management is not relegated to an appendix, but is discussed throughout and even occupies a substantial chapter right in the middle (I’ll admit that that did induce one of the lunchtime naps).
  • Commenting and refactoring to make your code easier to follow is discussed frequently and thoroughly.


If  you are a WordPress user who is looking to learn a little bit more about how it all works (or someone who is looking to deepen their knowledge of server-side scripting),  I dare you to read this book and not feel pushed to rush off and start poking around your WordPress database (just be careful!).

Comments (4)

  1. I’ve checked customer reviews and they aren’t so reassuring.

    Do you confirm all the complaints that many users wrote (especially about not working code or pieces of codes the author doesn’t say where to put)?

    • I can confirm some of the complaints in the customer reviews. Sorta…

      There were some issues with non-working code. Or at least, there were cases where I entered the code as written, but it did not perform the intended function. That being said, no one was checking my work but my browser. I very well could have made an error in reproducing the code. Some of the complaints mentioned a CD that should have, but did not, come with the book. The version of the book that I used had a link to source files that could be downloaded from the Missing Manual website. Those source files worked and allowed me to continue with the exercises, even when my code failed (for whatever reason).

      I didn’t really experience too much confusion about where to put the code. I think the author did a pretty good job of making that clear. It also, in my opinion, has to be put in the context of other similar titles. Was this book impeccably lucid? No, to answer my own question. Have other books I have used/seen/read/leafed-through-at-the-bookstore done a better job of that? Not really, no.

      The complaint about typos was also accurate. There was a glaring, red, blinking typo every 75 pages or so. I can only remember once, though, having to reread the paragraph to puzzle out what the author might have meant.

      Hope that sheds some light or context on the complaints. Were there any other issues brought up in the reviews that you were curious about?

      • That’s a very complete answer! :)

        In my experience, when books has not working code, it usually helps me trying to find how to make it work, so is not such a big deal, as long as I’ve a working code somewhere as a last resort.

        And I don’t mind the absence of a CD, since I would probably buy an e-book.

        In a nutshell it seems that the book is still worth its money.

        Thank you tschoegl!