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.
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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.
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!).