review: Pro PHP – Patterns, Frameworks, Testing and More


Author: Kevin MacArthur, Publisher: APress

Overview: this book is absolutely jam-packed with information useful to the medium-advanced PHP coder. SPL is described over a few chapters, and a quick intro to Zend’s MVC framework is provided. Of particular interest to me were the final chapters, to do with certificate-based authentication, and a chapter near the beginning describing the upcoming features of PHP6. Great book – I really enjoyed it.

Technically, this book is hard to fault. Kevin is very knowledgeable about his stuff and puts across that knowledge easily. It was a real pleasure to read. There were a lot of things in the book that I had only the vaguest idea about before hand – like Phing and Xinc – I will definitely be sitting down to read more about those techs when I get the time.

The book covers SPL, MVC, PHP6, and discusses issues such as continuous integration, web 2.0, source repositories, and digital certificate authorisation.

Kevin states at the beginning that this book was written for advanced PHP developers. I would posit that the book should be given to moderate developers who are looking to develop their project management skills – a lot of pages were devoted to tools and methods that are very useful for managing medium to large projects (continuous integration, MVC).

It is very hard to find fault with this book, but I’ll do my best!

While the title of the book mentions “frameworks”, only the Zend Framework is actually looked at. Not a single other framework was named, although it was mentioned that they exist. I think this is just not on – at the least, Kevin should have provided a few reasons why he chose to describe Zend over everything else. I was looking forward to reading more about such things as Cake, Symfony, et al.

The testing and continuous development sections were not long enough – the author practically raced through the description of continuous integration and did not spend much time on it. I was hoping for some discussion on such issues as keeping databases uptodate throughout development. In a book with this much information, it’s hard to focus on everything, but I think more time should have been spent on this crucial problem in development.

The “web 2.0” section covered the JavaScript XMLHTTPRequest object but not much mention was given to the higher-level stuff such as JavaScript frameworks and integration of those frameworks with PHP – I like the Sajax and Xajax libraries myself. Other people might go for the more mainstream (and complete) frameworks such as Dojo, MooTools and jQuery. Either way, I think this section should have included more integration with PHP or have been left out altogether.

SOAP was covered in the WebServices section, but not much mention is given of XML-RPC, REST, etc. It’s also not mentioned that JSON (my favourite object representation, described elsewhere in the book) can be used as a transport language for WebServices as well. This appears to be the same problem as the Zend section – Kevin chose a single tech to describe, without giving a good reason why he chose that or even what the alternatives are.

Forgetting about those minor details, I’d have to admit that that was a damned fine read. I would buy the book, and if you’re a serious PHP developer, so would you too.

4 Comments.

  1. Christopher Suen

    Dear Kae,

    I am contacting you from Apress to thank you for your thoughtful review of Pro PHP: Patterns, Frameworks, Testing and More this past month. We would like to request your permission to quote from it on our website and possibly on the cover of a future reprint edition.

    If you have any questions, please contact Cheryl Martinez, Marketing Supervisor, at cheryl.martinez@apress.com.

    Please contact Cheryl or me with your permission, and any special requests for how you would like to be cited. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Thank you in advance,
    Christopher Suen

  2. Hey,

    I am finishing up reading The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS3 with CSS, AJAX and PHP, and i think that this should be the next good book to read about PHP, but i was wondering if you knew any good books about visual design and user interface etc, because it seem that is the only thing holding me back from starting actual work on my site.

    Thanks,
    Doug Butner
    dougbutner@gmail.com

  3. Sorry Doug – my experience is in the actually programming of stuff (PHP, JavaScript, etc); not in how to make it look good. I wouldn’t know where to start with that – maybe take a read through A List Apart and CSS Zen Garden.

    The nearest I get to actual design is taking someone else’s draft design and creating a usable version of it using CSS. I can’t give you any good references for that, as I would be approaching it from the exact opposite direction (implementation) from you (creation).

  4. Bookmarks about Frameworks - pingback on September 14, 2008 at 10:45 pm

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