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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Teanching an old (programming) dog new (php) tricks

    I was a programmer in the 80's and early 90's. I stopped programming (old IBM structured language -- RPG) in around 95, but have stayed current on understanding technologies, installing and running web sites on servers, making small mod's in PHP scripts when needed, and the like.

    But I'm really tired of thinking of ideas and having to find developers to put my projects together when I know I have the "programmer's mind" and just need to be retrained.

    So, I'm looking for the best way to learn PHP/MySQL for starters. I know I can buy the various books and I guess I might as well hear which one is the best that comes with a hands on tutorial that actually builds something. But, I'm really interested in some sort of multimedia instructional class, or an intense, concentrated class I can go to for a week (I"m in California) for starters at least. I need to start beyond a course that is geared for those who have never programmed before and don't know what a database is.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Evangelist BJ Duncan's Avatar
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    Well you have certainly hit the right spot already. I am fairly new to the game of php as well and I have found nothing but fantastic tips, tricks and how to's just by going through these forums.

    I downloaded the sample chapters of the How to build a database driven website with php and MySQL by Kevin Yank. This inspired me to purchase the whole book and it was certainly value for money especially in your situation of having some form of knowledge.

    Prior to purchasing the book, I had experience in basic html and very little css with dibs and dabs in php. (I'm from a QBASIC background). After getting this book I was able to build an on-line tipping competition that has been very sucessful this year. I highly recommend it and I promise you, you will not regret it.
    Regards,
    BJ Duncan

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    Build something. PHP is very accessible, so if you already know the basics of programming, you should be up and running in no time. Just start with something small.

    In addition to a good book (I'm sorry, I can't recommend any), there are a couple of magazines, that target PHP specifically; Buy a couple of back-issues. One of the things, that you can get from this, which you can't from a book, is an understanding of the culture surrounding PHP. A great deal of what defines PHP, is the large and open user base.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist ldivinag's Avatar
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    WORX's BEGINNING PHP 5

    i got their BEGINNING PHP4 and that started me in everything PHP and MYSQL...
    leo d.

  5. #5
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    I really don't get why you want to go through the bother of buying a book for it.

    There are some REALLY great tutorials out there, ones which will really get your feet firmly on the PHP ground. The best, in my opinion, is w3schools' PHP tutorial. It's online, free, and teaches you all of the basics of PHP programming.

    Although, if you use it, don't install the separate programs like APACHE server, PHP5 and MySQL. It's a huge waste of time. if you don't have your own online server, download WAMP5. It gives you everything you need, ready installed.

    After going through the tutorial, ask as many questions you can think of, here on sitepoint. The PHP forum boasts the fastest responses.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard TheRedDevil's Avatar
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    slobizman:
    You could start off by reading the resources here:
    http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78687

    Some of it is slightly old, but will still give you a good introduction. I assume that since you were programming before, you dont need to be spoon fed eveything (If then I would find some beginner examples before diving into those resources).

    In regards to classes, I know PHP Architect has a few online PHP courses.
    http://hades.phparch.com/socrates/

    They also publish a PHP magazine, which is usally a good read. I would advice you to get the pdf version, as that one is in color. The printed magazine is not.

    For a book, there is many good php books.
    When I first started with php years ago, I found "PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling and Laura Thomson" to be good. I would also reccomend that you pick up "php|architect's Guide to PHP Security by Ilia Alshanetsky" imo its better than Shiflett's book. Note if you plan to program in PHP either get Ilia's or Shiflett's security book, your better off knowing the security issues with PHP from the start.

    For other books, you might want to look into one about patterns (a java book is fine, as you can apply the patterns to php as well). You also want to dig into databases, there "Database Design for Mere Mortals by Michael Hernandez" might be a good choice.

    arkinstall:
    I really don't get why you want to go through the bother of buying a book for it.
    It is easier to read a book. While some books still have bad code examples, there is a lot more tutorials with horrible code examples. Which again, is why there is a lot of bad php programmers "hacking" code.

    I would also recommend against "wamp5" setting up apache, php and mysql would only take 20-30min and it would assure you that you get it setup exactly how you want it. Most importently it would learn you how to do it, incase you need to change any settings on a server sometime.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRedDevil View Post
    I would also recommend against "wamp5" setting up apache, php and mysql would only take 20-30min and it would assure you that you get it setup exactly how you want it. Most importently it would learn you how to do it, incase you need to change any settings on a server sometime.
    While I kind of agree on that, I think those all-in-a-box solutions are a good thing for a beginner, since it takes away some complexity, and leaves you to focus on the task of learning PHP. Even if it's fairly simple (And good knowledge), trying to grasp too many thing at a time is usually a bad idea.

  8. #8
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    ^ exactly my point.

    there is a lot more tutorials with horrible code examples
    W3Schools is one of the highest recommended tutorial sites on the net.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard Hammer65's Avatar
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    Whatever book you get, make sure it is recently written. There are quite a few features of PHP and techniques that were used only 2 or 3 years ago that are now considered insecure or bad practice. No sense in learning those and then having to unlearn them later.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard TheRedDevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyberfabrikken View Post
    While I kind of agree on that, I think those all-in-a-box solutions are a good thing for a beginner, since it takes away some complexity, and leaves you to focus on the task of learning PHP. Even if it's fairly simple (And good knowledge), trying to grasp too many thing at a time is usually a bad idea.
    Yes, they makes it easier to get the enviroment setup. I guess for some, setting up apache, php and mysql manually is a nightmare. In such cases the "all in a box" solutions are good.

    Just one thing to remember if you use a "all in a box" solution, edit the php.ini settings. Normally they are set with globals and magic quotes on. It would be a good idea not to rely on those from the start.

    Quote Originally Posted by arkinstall View Post
    W3Schools is one of the highest recommended tutorial sites on the net.
    I did not mean that it contain a lot of horrible code examples, it is better than most; Though it has bad code examples as well. So I would never recommend anyone to rely only on whats written there.


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