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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    suggestion for the moderators

    hi,

    I have always found your forums a godsend. Being relatively new to php I am slowly getting to know syntax, glossary and functions etc. I was wondering if you felt there was any mileage in having a forum, that rather than being based on debugging, was more about learning?
    for instance PHP has many open source scripts on the net which i want to use but like many developers I want to understand how they work before i use them. I may come up against a term i have never seen before or maybe the syntax is new or maybe I just need to know how a foreach statement (for instance)works.
    I know I can go to such sites as php.net but you are often faced with more words you have never seen before (delimiters, $sub_strings, mixed search, etc) when you just really need laymans terms.
    Recently i just put up a question up about a directory being assigned as "." instead of its full name. I got a quick answer - that it meant it was a current working directory - and allowed me to move on quickly.
    So do you think It would be worth adding a forum (especialy to phps forums )based solely on "learning" questions? Or maybe i should feel ok about putting up what seems really basic "syntax" questions?

    hope this makes sense

    thanks for your time

    cass27

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Those types of questions are very suitable for this forum. And, people are usually eager to answer them.

  3. #3
    @php.net Salathe's Avatar
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    I can't speak on behalf of the moderators or what they've got in mind (if anything), however I'm more than happy to introduce basic concepts to people genuinely interested in learning from the ground up—just as happy as I am to answer the more technical questions that get raised here—right here in this forum.

    Also, I'd welcome any feedback that you might want to give with regards to the PHP manual itself. Its primary focus is to be a technical manual documenting the language, hence the jargon that may be confusing for people unfamiliar with it, but there is always work to improve the manual and making it more accessible for people discovering entirely new concepts is something the "book" sections of the manual can work on and alongside the technical details.
    Salathe
    Software Developer and PHP Manual Author.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    hi

    its great to know that such questions are not out of place. I guess when i look at some of the complexities of the questions people put up and i just want to learn what a echo means (im not really that bad..) Iguess I feel a bit silly sometimes. But I want to discover the language - I love it so much - and i want to become profficient at it.

    To do that - like you say Salathe - you have to have a firm foundation. that means questioning syntax that doesnt seem to make sense. so its good to know those kind of questions are likely to be answered and not laughed at.

    Salathe wrote:

    Also, I'd welcome any feedback that you might want to give with regards to the PHP manual itself. Its primary focus is to be a technical manual documenting the language, hence the jargon that may be confusing for people unfamiliar with it,
    If by the manual you mean php.net, the problem for me it is too technical. I think you are right for people at the beginning end of learning php the terms used to describe How it should be structured I find confusing. The examples are very good I think. I usualy use these to get a handle on where to put bits of code because the top bit of the page throws me a bit.
    I wonder whether a basic glossary that explains terms used and all php symbols and syntax would be useful.
    I have only just started using php.net and i can see how useful it can be. I am getting more and more used to it. though its slow going. I think that is the stage I am at. I know If I had been directed towards using it when I first started php I would havefound it far too technical. So in my view, (and it maybe because I am terminally stupid) a beginners area available in the manual would be useful with glossary, basic tutorials and a tutorial how to use the manual with all its jargon - Then there would be a natural flow for developers, always using the manual at the core of thier learning.

    hope this makes sense.

    cass27

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot
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    @cass27:

    I am new to this forum, so I can speak only for myself... as there is no newbies section I think you can ask also basics on PHP in here (and other experienced members seem to agree). A great advantage is that "moderate" users who gained knowledge in this forum could share the knowledge with newbies - a great way to improve your skills, when you are teaching someone else! And if someone is doing wrong there are still the pros who will correct it :-)

    Off Topic:

    But I think all newbies should at least buy a book to cover the basics as most books are more understandable than php.net (although the comments are really worthwhile). If you are starting now I'd also suggest to dive into PHP 5 and OOP as it is much less learning if you do it professional from the start. If you have your reasons for procedural programming I have no problems with that... just want to give you advise how it could be done.

    If you have some time I'd also recommend learning a "real" ;-) language before diving into PHP. I was very glad to get some pseudo code and Java before starting PHP - but that is just a personal experience... no idea if it helps anyone...


    ok, back to topic - I will surely answer your questions if I get the feeling you are keen on learning and you tried other sources to find out what echo means.

    Your posts are quite nice to read and it seems that you really want to learn something and not just grabbing some readymade code and I think this is a great assumption to get help in a any forum.

  6. #6
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    Some not so easy to come across pages:

    The manual admits it's going to be of limited usefulness to a first time programmer
    http://www.php.net/manual/en/about.more.php

    "top bit of the page", although you still need to know some other stuff for it to make sense.
    http://www.php.net/manual/en/about.prototypes.php

    If you would like to improve your skills more rapidly, I highly recommend getting a book. You will learn the basics and fundamentals first, which is very important. Concepts/syntax/types/structures get taught in a logical order to minimize the amount of "wtf does that bit of code do". I learned php just using online tutorials, the php manual, and tweaking existing code I found. I struggled with the php manual in the same ways you are. Looking back, I think I wasted a lot of time because I kept trying to run before I knew how to walk, so to speak.

  7. #7
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Perhaps SitePoint needs to create a server-side scripting reference (as they all have a lot in common, just different ways of expressing the same information). They are working on one for DOM Scripting already which could be extended to include scripting (by default).

  8. #8
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    crmalibu wrote:

    "top bit of the page", although you still need to know some other stuff for it to make sense.
    http://www.php.net/manual/en/about.prototypes.php
    This is just what I need .

    I think I have past the stage of reading the books about fundamentals (great book PHP and MYSQL fourth edition by Luke Welling and Laura Thompson) and now feel ready to use php.net The above will help me enormously in understanding "the top bit" as I called it.

    Alex Dawson wrote:

    Perhaps SitePoint needs to create a server-side scripting reference (as they all have a lot in common, just different ways of expressing the same information).
    I would love to put my hands on a glossary or referance for php - text or online. I thought O'reilly did one but cant track it down.

    thanks for all your inputs and when I have found out what echo means I'll be sure to let you all know

    cass27

  9. #9
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cass27 View Post
    I would love to put my hands on a glossary or referance for php - text or online. I thought O'reilly did one but cant track it down.
    They do have a pocket reference but it doesn't seem to have many good reviews: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596004026/

  10. #10
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    thanks Alex. Yes I had a look and it has got really bad reviews. I tried to find the first edition as people seemed to think the first edition was head and shoulders above the second edition but apparently its out of print. I dont think ill buy it but will scan amazon etc for any goodies.


  11. #11
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    I'd be inclined to agree with Cass on this one. Not because I have found other forum users to be unhelpful - the complete opposite in fact - but because you feel a bit of a fool asking a 'stupid question' to people who clearly know a lot more than you do. I'm speaking from personal experience.

    Someone mentioned above that they are happy to help as long as you are not just trying to get someone else to do your work for you (or words to that effect). Problem is, you could have googled your problem, read the first 10 pages, done a search in a sitepoint forum and still not found your answer before you post a question.

    For example, I recently watched a bunch of online video tutorials that used print rather than echo. If you don't know why, you feel a bit stupid asking the question in this forum.

    All that said...I really appreciate all the advice I've been given in Sitepoint (even if I haven't taken it!).

    Goofy


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