review: Object-Oriented Programming in PHP5

by Hasin Hayder, Packt Publishing

In short: a very good concise introduction to OOP. I’ll be keeping this on my desk for a while. The language use is strange but the code examples and the spread of topics make up for that in spades. This book has a very broad scope, but is clear in the essentials. If you’re looking for an introduction to Objected Oriented Programming in PHP, I’d recommend this one.

The Good

The book does a good job of introducing PHP objects. I’ve done OOP in C++, Java and PHP, and found Hasin’s descriptions easy to read.

I liked that code examples are provided for almost every discussed idea. In fact, in some cases I found that the code was so readable it explained things that were not stated in the surrounding paragraphs.

I’ve been coding in PHP since the 90s and avoided doing a lot of OOP because I was aware that it was not widely available until PHP5 came out. Only recently, the GoPHP5 project started pushing for the adoption of PHP 5.2 as a minimum. As a result of that, I’ve started assuming a base level of 5.2 in my own work, and that allowed me to work properly with objects.

This book, then, is a good reference to keep on my table as I update my own coding style.

It has a clear discussion of PHP’s handling of objects, with details on probably all aspects of it – Hasin certainly knows more about OOP in PHP than I do, so I can’t find any faults!

Following the description and examples of Objects in PHP5, the book then moves onto Patterns, providing a short description of the major patterns. Good programmers will already be aware of these, but it is always good to have a reminder.

I’ve never done Unit Testing (yes, bad me – I’m a fan of Selenium, though), so the chapter on Reflection And Unit Testing was perfect timing for me – I’ve been pressuring myself recently to get into unit testing, and this was the perfect way to start. A quick overview of how to unit-test objects was provided. I had a few questions at the end of the chapter, but they’re probably best left for a book specifically on unit testing.

The SPL chapter was a little surprise for me. I wasn’t aware of these classes in PHP5. Although, considering my knowledge is bassed mostly on Procedural Programming and the PHP.net manual, which is mostly Procedural, this is not surprising. The book described some objects such as RecursiveDirectoryIterator and SPLFileInfo which I found immediate application for in my own work.

There is also a chapter on MVC. I’m not really into MVC, so was interested to see if he could convince me that it was better than the methods I currently use, but no, I’m still not convinced.

The Bad

There are a number of stated assumptions in the book. For example, OOP is implicitly better than all other methods of programming. On page 12 of the book, a number of “benefits of OOP” are noted. Each of those benefits can apply to Procedural Programming as well. Not enough thought went into convincing the reader that OOP is better. I agree that OOP is better, but the arguments written in the book are not strong enough.

There are other assumptions in the book – that MD5-hashing a password is “the best” way of storing a password, that coders should never code from scratch as almost everything as already been written (he then goes on to write an MVC implementation from scratch…). Each of these assumptions detracts slightly from the readability of the book because it makes the book read as a personal opinion instead of an objective discussion.

Also, I didn’t like the frequent references to PHP4. let’s forget the past and concentrate on 5. The book is written for PHP5, so there should be minimal discussion of PHP4 in it. Funnily, on page 13, this line appears: “In PHP5, objects are a lot more different than an object in PHP4. We will not discuss the details of this”. Two pages later, we have the sub-chapter heading “Difference of OOP in PHP4 and PHP5″. Some people may disagree with me, but I think that should be left to an appendix – the author should assume that the reader is coming to the subject with no knowledge at all. Describing old and new behaviour is confusing. Stick to the new.

I feel that a chapter should have been written which describes the conversion of an existing script from Procedural to OO. While it’s not difficult to do, it would have helped to explain the thoughts behind OOP.

The Ugly

The code samples were not readable enough, in my opinion. There were commented-out lines of code which should have been removed before publishing, and the indentation was non-standard and inconsistent.

The language used is difficult to read. I understand that Hasin is from Bangladesh and that English is probably not his first language, but as this book is written with an English-speaking reader in mind, the language should have been read over and corrected where it was non-standard.

Near the beginning of the book, Hasin lists off a short list of coding conventions to use. Throughout the book he then breaks most of them in his code. Granted, this doesn’t affect the /correctness/ of the code, but it is distracting when noticed.

The Table Of Contents doesn’t match the book! If you are looking for something using the TOC, then you need to add 4 to the page number it mentions. The Index is even worse, in that the page numbers are off /on average/ by about 3 pages.

It might come across from these comments that I didn’t like the book, but that’s not true – I enjoyed reading it and learned quite a bit from it. No review is complete, though, without some criticisms, and I just happen to be good at criticising.

I will re-read bits of the book over the next few weeks, and would recommend it to anyone that’s starting out in OOP in PHP.

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