PHP Solutions: Dynamic Web Design Made Easy, 3rd edition
When the first edition of PHP Solutions was published, I was concerned that the subtitle, Dynamic Web Design Made Easy, sounded overambitious. Even with this third edition, it still makes me a little apprehensive about unduly raising readers’ expectations. PHP is not difficult, but nor is it like an instant cake mix: just add water and stir. Every website is different, so it’s impossible to grab a script, paste it into a webpage, and expect it to work. My aim was to help web designers with little or no knowledge of programming gain the confidence to dive into the code and adjust it to their own requirements.
The fact that the book has remained so popular since it was first published in 2006 suggests that many readers took up the challenge. Members of Boston PHP did so in large numbers when they adopted the second edition as the text for three series of PHP Percolate, a virtual self-study group for beginners. Hundreds signed up to study the book one chapter a week. It worked for them, so I hope it will work just as well for you.
What’s New in this Edition
One useful piece of feedback from PHP Percolate participants and other readers was disappointment when I glossed over a section of advanced code, explaining only what it did rather than how it worked. That omission has been corrected in this edition. Occasionally, I point out that you might want to skip the detailed explanation, but it’s there if you’re intrigued by how a technique works. As a result, the reference section of Chapter 3 has been expanded to include such esoteric delights as variable variables. No, it’s not a typo; “variable variable” is a genuine concept in PHP. It’s also quite useful.
This edition brings the content up to date with PHP 5.6, which was released in August 2014. Because hosting companies are often slow to upgrade the version of PHP that they offer, I’ve made PHP 5.4 the minimum version for the code used in this book. PHP 5.4 made some important changes, introducing a simplified array syntax and dropping support for safe mode and “magic quotes.” As well as bringing the code up to date, I’ve revised every chapter, going through it line by line, clarifying explanations. I’ve also eliminated a number of errors—without, I hope, introducing new ones. The biggest changes are to the custom classes for uploading files and creating image thumbnails in Chapters 6 and 8. They now use namespaces to avoid naming clashes with other third-party code. More important, the class definitions have been extensively rewritten to make them more efficient. Another significant change is the use of the new password hashing functions in Chapters 9 and 17. These functions weren’t introduced until PHP 5.5, but you can emulate them in PHP 5.4 by including the password_compat library in your scripts. Details of how to obtain the library, which consists of a single file, can be found in Chapter 9. The chapters on working with a database have been reorganized to make them easier to follow. I’ve also strengthened the explanation of prepared statements, using both MySQL Improved (MySQLi) and the databaseneutral PHP Data Objects (PDO). Some Linux distributions now install MariaDB as a drop-in replacement for MySQL. To avoid unnecessary repetition, I normally refer only to MySQL, but all the PHP solutions in this book work equally well with MariaDB.
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