Introduction to Mat Wright

Mat Wright is a Zend Certified Engineer and qualified designer available for freelance web development + consultation work.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book Review :: Pro PHP: Patterns, Frameworks, Testing and More

Title : Pro PHP: Patterns, Frameworks, Testing and More
Author : Kevin McArthur
Publisher : Apress
Date : March 2008
ISBN: 1590598199


Pro PHP is an intermediate/advanced guide to working with the PHP scripting language within a professional context.

Aimed at developers seeking to explore some of the more advanced features of the PHP language including the Standard PHP Library (SPL), Reflection API,  Exceptions and much more.

The book introduces the Zend Framework and in particular the Model View Controller pattern (MVC) with examples and tips on implementation.  Going beyond the PHP language itself, Pro PHP invites the reader to explore wider coding conventions as well as documentation standards, testing, deployment and continuous integration with third party development suites. The final chapters provides an informative section dedicated to WEB 2.0 and in particular PHP integration with web services WSDL and SOAP before concluding with an enlightening explanation of certification authentication including a full tutorial to set up your own certificate authentication client.

The book's author Kevin McArthur,  a self-taught entrepreneur based in Canada, employs a sober, objective writing style that might not grip the imagination of some readers but this is a reference book after-all.  I personally appreciate Kevin's no-nonsense style and found the book to be well organised for both a cover-to-cover read and later back references to key sections.

I was especially struck by how up-to date the content of the book was. In one section Kevin discusses what's new in PHP 6, now almost two years later we are still waiting for the official release of PHP 6 yet Kevin's introduction was (and still is) a great insight into the key features of the forthcoming release of PHP 6.

The coverage of subject matter in this book is broad to say the least which some readers may find too eclectic. I personally found that ProPHP presents a solid introduction to just about every technique and practice that a professional PHP developer should ever need. The guidance is clear and simple and provides a springboard for its followers to move forward within their profession and explore the areas covered in practice.

One of the sections that I really appreciated is entitled 'Testing, Deployment and Continuous Integration', this part of the book brings together each of the indispensable tools for effective team-development. The chapters within this section include introductions and starting-out tutorials for Subversion, PHPUnit, Phing and Xinc. As web applications become more and more sophisticated, teams of developers, rather than individuals are being hired to build and maintain these systems. Knowledge of unit testing, deployment, and version control are invaluable facets to any php developers tool-kit.


I purchased my copy shortly after it was released in Europe the summer before last (summer 2008) so a lot of water has passed under the bridge in the PHP world since then but I would still recommend this book to any PHP developer keen to master the advanced features of the PHP language as the majority of the techniques, principles and concepts discussed in the book are still relevant.

Pro PHP provides at the very least a thorough introduction to just about every component required to build  enterprise-ready web-applications within a team-driven, professional development environment.


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