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Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL (2nd Edition) Hugh E. Williams and David Lane
Published by O'Reilly Media
816 pages
£ 31.95
Published: 27th May 2004
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the September 2004 issue (pdf), (html)

Lots of pages, big price. Hmmmm, I have some worries about this new edition. Yes, it covers PEAR and PHP 5 and MySQL 4.1 which is all to the good, but it also covers basic PHP programming, basic SQL and even some basic JavaScript. There are probably two if not three slimmer, more useful volumes struggling to get out of this chunky tome. And the new MySQL interface, mysqli, is relegated to a few pages at the very end of the book; probably a victim of production scheduling clashing with software release timescales but a section for which it might have been worth waiting.

One of the biggest problems of this and indeed all books on PHP and MySQL is that the authors insist on writing about the features of quite old versions of the systems that probably most people don't use anymore. OK, both systems tend to be moving targets but that isn't any excuse for cluttering up the book with information that is of little use to most people. Flag the problem areas and point people to the web documentation for the older stuff. If you have any knowledge of PHP and/or MySQL finding anything new or useful is hard in this book. There is just too much here: too many long examples, too much syntax, too much advanced detail, too much other stuff: do we really need a 16 page manual for the EZPDF class? Scattered throughout the text are watchpoints about pitfalls -- these are good, but there aren't enough of them to make up for the waves of cruft.

As it stands I cannot recommend this book to anyone. Take it apart and turn it into three nice thin (cheap!) books and the content will stand its own against any other but as it is it is just too hard to use both for novices and experts. I shudder to think what they could do with a 3rd edition!

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