Posted by: phillipnb | September 1, 2012

Book Review: PHP MySql 5.1 for Beginners

Well, I will give PHP a miss, even in this post. A lot of people (mostly freshers/beginners) have emailed me over the last several months asking to recommend a good book to study PHP. I have also seen this same question in many php forums. So, I thought I will review a book in this post for the benefit of all these people.

I looked for a book, which I can call as a kind of text-book in Php, suitable for beginners. After horsing around a bit, I have zeroed in on this book. The book is called “PHP 5.1 for Beginners By Ivan Bayross, Sharanam Shah”. I don’t claim that this is the best php book in the market but to me it looks like the most ideal book for a beginner who would like to learn and know more about php. The title of the books tells that this book is aimed at beginners. This book is available on

This book is very detailed and exhaustive.That is necessary for a beginner to whom some hand holding is necessary when they take baby steps in a new programming language. One of the best aspect of this book is that it covers php programming from every angle, visiting nook and corner of php. The book doesn’t assume that the reader have already installed php and knows all the nuts and bolts like what a client server is, what zend is, what are the benefits and drawbacks of php is, etc etc. The authors have taken pains to explain all these in the beginning chapters of this book. I have referred several other resources of php but this is the only book where authors have tried hard to explain clearly what operator references is and how to use super globals.

Another highlight of this book is the section found at the end of each chapter called “hands on exercise”. How many books for a beginner can boast this? These exercises and their solution reinforces the knowledge that the reader gained by reading that particular chapter. This is very essential for a beginner, a fresher who is new to php.

Here are the other exciting and interesting things that was found in this book:

  • One of the few introductory book about php that deals with ODBC.
  • Have explained where cookies are used and where they are placed?. Most books just deal with the term “setcookie”.
  • While explaining what session in php is, the authors have also explained what PHPSESSID is all about.
  • The authors have devoted separate chapters for explaining blogs, forums and frameworks in php. This is a huge bonus for anybody who is mastering php.

If you want to know what is there in each chapter, then here is a small commentary about each of the chapters:

  • Chapter 1 Introduces php as a programming language. Gives a good introduction to php, talks bit about client-server architecture, about the origin of PHP, about php preprocessor, about different versions of php etc etc. This chapter also mentions a few lines about Zend and PHP. The chapter ends by describing the benefits and drawbacks of php, what a php file is about etc
  • Installing a web server is what Chapter 2 is all about. This chapter gives description about IIS and Apcahe
  • Chapter 3 gives a good description about setting up and configuring php to work under Apache and IIS both on Windows Operating System and Linux
  • Chapter 4 describes integrating php with a Web Server
  • In Chapter 5 we have php language basics. The authors explain how to name a php file, how to write comments and how to run a php script etc
  • Chapter 6 gives a good introduction to the php data types, what a php variable is, the use of super globals in php, the use of constants, here docs, operator references, arrays, conditional statements loop, etc
  • Chapter 7 – Deals with functions. The chapter on functions deals with user defined functions, functions with arguments, functions accepting and returning by reference, by value, recursion and gloablizing function. Chapter 7 also explains few builtin functions like print(), include() etc. Date time functions have been dealt quite well in Chapter 7.
  • Chapter 8 deals with forms. The authors explain the basics of html forms, use of php within the html form and file uploading
  • Chapter 9 deals with regular expressions
  • Chapter 10 mostly deals with errors ad error handling in php. This chapter very clearly explains what is E_ALL, E_PARSE, E_NOTICE etc etc
  • In Chapter 11 the authors talk about php and database programming, downloading and installing mysql on windows and linux. This chapter also deals with php and mysql using a form
  • Chapter 12 deals with mysqli
  • Chapter 13 continues with database driven programming, this time with Oracle and Php
  • Chapter 14 deals with Sqlite and ODBC etc
  • Chapter 15 deals with introduction of Php and database using ODBC
  • Chapter 16 starts with th basics of Object Oriented Programming in Php. This is continued in chap 17 but this time with database
  • How to generate a form dynamically on the fly is what is explained in Chapter 18
  • Chapter 19 deals with the download and installation of a blog product like b2evolution. How many books can boast about explaining a product like this?. This also includes administration of b2evolution.
  • Chapter 20 deals all about forums. It involves download, install and using of a forum product called Simple Machines.
  • Chapter 21 deals with sessions and cookies. The book then goes on to use an example by using a mini shopping cart example.
  • Chapter 22 deals with Php and XML. The chapter then goes on by explaining the basics of xml and simplexml. It also explains how to create a xml document using mysql and php.
  • Chapter 23 – deals with Php Data Objects or PDO. The chapter explains how to connect and execute commands using PDO.
  • Chapter 24 – deals with a framework called prado. While prado is definitely good from a learning point of view, the authors should have dealt with a popular framework like CakePhp, CodeIgniter,  Symfony etc
  • Chapter 25 – deals with Joomla. Yes, authors are right in choosing this CMS as this is good for a beginner in php
  • Chapter 26 – deals with pear:db
  • Chapter 27 – deals with the IDE called Php Designer 2005.

Overall,  if you are a beginner in php and would like to master PHP thoroughly then this is the book that you should buy.



  1. has anybody read the php book by lerdorf and tatroe?

  2. I am currently learning PHP and have found the following book a great help.
    PHP & MYSQL-novice to ninja 5th ed Author: Yank ISBN 0987153080

    The BIG plus is that .Novice to Ninja’ starts out by guiding you through a simple installation of XAMPP which means that The Apache Web Server, MySql database and PHP are all setup and configured to work with each other leaving you ready to get started with PHP.

    Phillip has identied several features of PHP 5.1 For Beginners that I can’t yet evaluate and it may well be that once you are up and going with PHP that the ‘For Beginners’ book will provide more clarity on important aspects.,

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