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9 of the Best Free PHP Books - Part 1

9 of the Best Free PHP Books

Learning the PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) programming language from scratch can be an arduous affair. Fortunately, budding developers that want to code in this language have a good range of introductory texts available to read, both in-print and to download. There are also many quality books that help programmers that have reached an intermediate level deepen their understanding of the language.

PHP has been at the helm of the web for many years. It is an extremely popular, interpreted scripting language that is ideally suited for web development. This language powers millions of web sites on the net and is extremely well supported by its user community. It is released under a non-copyleft free software license / open source license. PHP can be deployed on most Web servers and also as a standalone shell on almost all operating systems and platforms.

The word "Preprocessor" means that PHP makes changes before the HTML page is created. The code is executed on the server, generating HTML which is then sent to the client. PHP therefore enables a static webpage to become dynamic. The language is dynamically typed and easy to use. PHP comes with many extensions offering all kinds of functionality from system operations to numerical processing. One of the reasons why PHP is so popular is that it is simple to learn for a newcomer to the language, but provides advanced features for professional developers. Other reasons for its popularity include its embedded relationship with HTML, it provides a good mix of performance and flexibility to developers, has a relatively shallow learning curve, easy to debug and good performance.

The focus of this article is to select some of the finest PHP books which are available to download for free. Many of the books featured here can also be freely distributed to others.

To cater for all tastes, we have chosen a good range of books, encompassing general introductions to PHP, as well as books that will help you to effectively use the many advanced features of PHP. All of the texts here come with our strongest recommendation. So get reading (and downloading).

1. PHP Cookbook

PHP Cookbook
Author David Sklar, Adam Trachtenberg
Format HTML
Pages 632

The PHP Cookbook is a collection of problems, solutions, and practical examples for PHP programmers. The book contains a unique and extensive collection of best practices for everyday PHP programming dilemmas. It contains over 250 recipes, ranging from simple tasks to entire programs that demonstrate complex tasks, such as printing HTML tables and generating bar charts -- a treasure trove of useful code for PHP programmers, from novices to advanced practitioners.

Chapters cover:

  • Strings - PHP strings differ from C strings in that they are binary-safe (i.e., they can contain null bytes) and can grow and shrink on demand
  • Numbers - integers and floating-point numbers
  • Dates and Times - looks at the mktime, date functions
  • Arrays - lists: lists of people, lists of sizes, lists of books. To store a group of related items in a variable, use an array
  • Variables - they are the core of what makes computer programs powerful and flexible
  • Functions - help you create organized and reusable code
  • Classes and Objects - a class is a package containing two things: data and methods to access and modify that data; Objects play another role in PHP outside their traditional OO position
  • Web Basics - focuses on some web-specific concepts and organizational topics that will make your web programming stronger
  • Forms - seamless integration of form variables into your programs. It makes web programming smooth and simple, from web form to PHP code to HTML output
  • Database Access - PHP can interact with 17 different databases, some relational and some not. The relational databases it can talk to are DB++, FrontBase, Informix, Interbase, Ingres II, Microsoft SQL Server, mSQL, MySQL, Oracle, Ovrimos SQL Server, PostgreSQL, SESAM, and Sybase. The nonrelational databases it can talk to are dBase, filePro, HyperWave, and the DBM family of flat-file databases. It also has ODBC support
  • Web Automation - there are four ways to retrieve a remote URL in PHP
  • XML - with the help of a few extensions, PHP lets you read and write XML for every occasion
  • Regular Expressions - a powerful tool for matching and manipulating text
  • Encryption and Security - including obscuring data with encoding, verifying data with hashes, encrypting and decrypting data, and more
  • Graphics - with the assistance of the GD library, you can use PHP to create applications that use dynamic images to display stock quotes, reveal poll results, monitor system performance, and even create games
  • Internationalization and Localization - PHP can create applications that speak just about any language
  • Internet Services - covers sending mail including MIME mail, reading mail with IMAP or POP3, posting and reading messages to Usenet newsgroups, getting and putting files with FTP, looking up addresses with LDAP, using LDAP for user authentication, performing DNS lookups, checking if a host is alive, and getting information about a domain name
  • Files - PHP's interface for file I/O is similar to C's, although less complicated
  • Directories - PHP provides two ways to look in a directory to see what files it holds. The first way is to use opendir( ) to get a directory handle, readdir( ) to iterate through the files, and closedir( ) to close the directory handle. The second method is to use the directory class. Instantiate the class with dir( ), read each filename with the read( ) method, and close the directory with close( )
  • Client-Side PHP
  • PEAR - the PHP Extension and Application Repository, a collection of open source classes that work together. Developers can use PEAR classes to generate HTML, make SOAP requests, send MIME mail, and a variety of other common tasks

2. PHP 5 Power Programming

PHP 5 Power Programming
Author Andi Gutmans, Stig Saether Bakken and Derick Rethans
Format PDF
Pages 720

In PHP 5 Power Programming, PHP 5's co-creator and two leading PHP developers show you how to make the most of PHP 5's industrial-strength enhancements in any project, no matter how large or complex.

Their unique insights and realistic examples illuminate PHP 5's new object model, powerful design patterns, improved XML Web services support, and much more. Whether you are creating web applications, extensions, packages, or shell scripts, or migrating PHP 4 code, here are high-powered solutions you will not find anywhere else.

Review PHP's syntax and master its object-oriented capabilities, from properties and methods to polymorphism, interfaces, and reflection.

The book enables users to:

  • Master the four most important design patterns for PHP development
  • Write powerful web applications: handle input, cookies, session extension, and more
  • Integrate with MySQL, SQLite, and other database engines
  • Provide efficient error handling that is transparent to your users
  • Leverage PHP 5's improved XML support including parsing, XSLT conversions, and more
  • Build XML-based web services with XML-RPC and SOAP
  • Make the most of PEAR: work with the repository, use key packages, and create your own
  • Upgrade PHP 4 code to PHP 5, compatibility issues, techniques, and practical workarounds
  • Improve script performance: tips and tools for PHP optimization
  • Use PHP extensions to handle files/streams, regular expressions, dates/times, and graphics
  • Create original extensions and shell scripts

3. PHP Reference: Beginner to Intermediate PHP5

PHP Reference Book
Author Mario Lurig
Format PDF, ePub, HTML
Pages 163

PHP Reference Book: Beginner to Intermediate PHP5 is a collection of over 250 PHP functions with clear explanations in language anyone can understand, followed with as many examples as it takes to understand what the function does and how it works. One of the best PHP books to keep around as a PHP reference.

This PHP reference includes numerous additional tips, the basics of PHP, MySQL query examples, regular expressions syntax, and two indexes to help you find information faster: a common language index and a function index.

Topics include:

  • Operators
  • Control Structures
  • Global Variables
  • Variable Functions
  • String Functions
  • Array Functions
  • Date/Time Functions
  • Mathematical Functions
  • MySQL Functions
  • Directory & File System Functions
  • Output Control (Output Buffer)
  • Sessions
  • Regular Expressions

This book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 License.

Next Section: 9 of the Best Free PHP Books - Part 2

This article is divided into three parts:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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Last Updated Sunday, May 25 2014 @ 05:42 AM EDT

We have written a range of guides highlighting excellent free books for popular programming languages. Check out the following guides: C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, CoffeeScript, HTML, Python, Ruby, Perl, Haskell, PHP, Lisp, R, Prolog, Scala, Scheme, Forth, SQL, Node.js (new), Fortran (new), Erlang (new), Pascal (new), and Ada (new).

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