PHP is an open-source, HTML-embedded scripting language that allows you to handle tasks such as processing form input and working with databases directly in your HTML pages, rather than through CGI scripts.
The PHP Pocket Reference is both a handy introduction to PHP syntax and structure and a quick reference to the vast array of functions provided by PHP. This small book acts as a perfect tutorial for learning the basics of developing Web applications with PHP.
started the PHP Project back in 1995 and has been actively involved in PHP development ever since. Also involved in a number of other Open Source projects, Rasmus is a longtime Apache contributor and foundation member. He is the author of the first edition of the PHP Pocket Reference, and the co-author of Programming PHP.
This book has a promising introduction. Unfortunately, as a pocket reference it's useless. It gives the names of functions and most of the functions' prototypes, but no use examples. A Nutshell book would have been more useful. For my PHP needs I left the O'Reilly fold and bought APress's programmers introduction to PHP. It has a complete command reference WITH code snippets, a solid discussion of the language, and a thorough discussion of concepts I sense Lerdorf would have liked to explore further if he had not been bound by the pocket ref format.
I'm really not sure what happend with this book, and I won't make any assumptions other than it was not ready when it went to press.
So many functions are poorly described, have the wrong parameters, or are just missing that I felt this book was a waste of money. PHP has so much better information on their website, including an annotated manual, I've generally found opening up the Pocket Reference a waste of my time. It is so much easier (and more accurate) just to go to the online documentation.
It just amazes me that a colaboration between O'Reilly and Rasmus Lerdorf didn't work out better.
I am surprised to find this long list of positive reviews here and no negative one. I know quite a few PHP programmers and we all agree that this book is a rip off.
The book compromises a condensed version of the on-line manual. There's no index and there are hardly any of the exmples and explanations one can find in the on-line manual.
If you know the command you are looking for, you will hardly find anything about it you don't know already, so the only useful information is the spelling.
If you don't know the command, again you will hardly find enough information to be comfortable to use it.
The only time I find this reference useful is when I'm on a train and write a PHP script into my Palm. (Yes, I am that sad. ;-) But I hope some good soul will make the reference available in Palm format, so I can at least use a search facility!
My computer book shelf is packed with O'Reilly books and I have bought other reference booklets in the past that I find helpful, but this is simply not up to your standards and it does not make me hopefull about the "big book" that's still missing.
This is a fairly good little book, nice to take with me between home and the office while I keep the other two big (non-O'Reilly) PHP books in one place.
Aside from echoing the other comments (it needs a corresponding O'Reilly big book, more detailed function descriptions, etc.), it seriously needs an index. This became clear while looking for the missing descriptions of the list() and isset() functions. As the function descriptions are so minimal, I expect to use this book mainly to look up proper spelling (mainly whether or not a function has an inline underscore: e.g. isset, is_int, intval; file_exists, filesize, is_file), and parameter lists of functions I already know. An index would make this painless, which it is not right now. Expanding the function descriptions in the book would make an index even more useful.
The Tcl/Tk Pocket Reference has an index, and it's 32 pages shorter (not to mention $2 cheaper). The six blank pages at the back of the PHP Pocket Reference are surely enough room, if litle else is changed.
It would be nice to have the Function Reference split into two or more major sections. I would suggest Basic Functions (array, string, date/time, variable, misc, etc.) and Advanced Functions (database, IMAP, LDAP, MCAL, Mcrypt, networking, etc.). Alternately, the Advanced Functions could be further split into sections for Local (database and file manipulation, such as GZIP, graphics, PDF, FDF, etc.) and Remote (networking and remote server functions, such as IMAP, LDAP, MCAL, etc.) functions. Another option would be to separate out the functions that require an additional library (e.g. IMAP, MCAL, Mcrypt, mhash, PDF, spell-checking, etc.).
Still, I did learn a few tricks from the chapters prior to the function reference, and I would recommend this book to PHP coders on the go, since it's so small, relatively inexpensive, and currently unique in the marketplace.
Overall, I find the Pocket Reference to be a useful desktop reference. Most useful are the first several chapters, which explain about variables, operators, control structures, etc. I like the alternative explanations of these concepts and the examples Rasmus provides. The function reference leaves much to be desired, however. After reading the half-sentence explanations, I found myself going to the official documentation for what the function really does and how to use it. This reduces the function reference to a reminder of what is available and the arguments they take. Moreover, I did find errors in the ereg_replace and eregi_replace functions, the replacement string is not documented and these functions do not take a regs argument. In short, the language reference is very useful, but the function reference should be expanded considerably. And yes, it needs a bigger companion book.