Get your FREE 30 page Developing SOLID Applications guide!

PHP: The Good Parts – Book Review

Out Of Date Warning

Languages change. Perspectives are different. Ideas move on. This article was published on May 3, 2010 which is more than two years ago. It may be out of date. You should verify that technical information in this article is still current before relying upon it for your own purposes.

Wez Furlong received a copy of PHP: The Good Parts as a thank you for his participation as a technical reviewer, and loaned it to me for a read. After reading it, I wanted to put together a brief review of the book for those who might be interested in this new title from O’Reilly.

My overall impression of the book was disappointment. To some degree I was hoping for a book that would show me special parts of PHP that perhaps I had overlooked; instead, the book focuses on a basic introduction to PHP, and one that isn’t very detailed in the first place. The book’s focus as an introduction also fails to teach basic programming concepts, meaning that non-programmers will not find the book to be useful.

I also struggled with the fact that the book contained statements that, while not patently false, failed to accurately express the realities of the PHP environment. For example, one part of the book states that sessions do not rely on cookies; while this is technically true, I haven’t seen a session implementation in a long time that doesn’t rely on session cookies being passed to the user. The security section is also particularly lacking, focusing on things like XSS and escaping output, but doesn’t focus in detail on session hijacking. Additionally, the book makes no mention of frameworks, even though they are the state of PHP development today (even though the book promotes Zend Studio).

I think that Peter MacIntyre means well and is certainly a smart individual with a lot of great things to say, and writing a book is by no means easy (I’m doing it right now myself). That being said, I feel as though this book is only average, and would find it difficult to recommend to others.

Learning design patterns doesn't have to suck.

Design patterns open a whole new world of possibilities. So why are you avoiding them? This brand new book will help you finally understand these wonderful programming techiques!

Learn design patterns TODAY »

Jordan Walker (@jorwalk) wrote at 5/3/2010 9:04 am:

Thanks Brandon for the review, I will be sure not to pick that up. I have been really disappointed with the programming books O’Reilly has published and look to any other publishing house than theirs. Specifically and finally, a new Perl book by James Lee with Apress.

leon (@hileon) wrote at 5/3/2010 11:15 am:

I am reading Douglas Crockford’s JavaScript: The Good Parts.
It is a awesome book. But it is sad to hear that there is still no a php book like this.

jotrys wrote at 5/3/2010 11:51 am:

Well that’s a clear book review.

What are the PHP books that you recommend?

Giorgio Sironi (@giorgiosironi) wrote at 5/3/2010 11:52 am:

Another “PHP 5-6-even7 Advanced Techniques and Best Practices For Great Methodologies Ultimate Manual” book. The inverse relation between titles and content is incredible.

Marcus wrote at 5/25/2010 10:36 am:

I second jotrys’ request for PHP books that you could recommend. I’m going through about 4 concurrently right now (The Good Parts among them – also Learning PHP, MySQL, & JavaScript; PHP & MySQL Web Development, 4th ed.; and Head First PHP & MySQL)trying to cram in some PHP prowess and would love a good suggestion to put me on the right track.