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Learning PHP 5 David Sklar
Published by O'Reilly Media
432 pages
£ 20.95
Published: 6th July 2004
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the December 2004 issue (pdf), (html)

I'm a great fan of the O'Reilly Pocket Reference series: good content at a good price. Perfect for the penurious programmer who needs a memory jog. And the PHP version is no exception. Everything you need to know, and as it says on the back ``thoroughly updated to include the specifics of PHP4, the latest version of the language''. Ooops. It arrives in the same packet as Learning PHP 5. Someone at O'Reilly needs to look at their scheduling policies (oh while they are at it can they bring out a decent, up-to-date CSS reference please). That being said, if you write PHP and don't have total recall of the PHP manual and need to find a parameter spec for one of the gazillion functions then this is good to have on your desk. Nothing else to say about it really: does what it says on the cover at a price you can't argue with.

I can't say the same, though, for Learning PHP 5. To me the whole point of PHP 5 is the extended and improved object model and the introduction of exception handling. Everything else is PHP 4. The first proper mention of objects and classes occurs on page 242, where you are referred to the PHP manual pages for information of classes and objects, and another O'Reilly book for coverage of the new PHP 5 features. There follows two pages of rudimentary information on objects and that's it. There is no mention at all of exception handling in the book that I can find. Personally, I find this entirely unacceptable. When I get a book called Learning PHP 5, I want some stuff about PHP 5. There are dozens of books telling me about PHP 4, I don't need another one, particularly one that advocates rather insanitary PHP programming practices. Frankly, this is a con. I really don't think it is worth saying anything more about it. Capsule review: don't buy it.

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