I always when I want to start learning PHP I get afraid of learning any bad habbit or things that could lead to unsecure applications. I would ask you experts in PHP to help me and put a roadmap for me from the beginning. It would be better if it is a series of books so when I finish a book I go to the next.
start with this book, it teaches good habits for begineers and teaches you step by step, i started with this book and found it really helpful, although you do need a good basis in html to understand this book fully
I am mostly self taught, but having decided to get my programming certificates online from University of Illinois was the best money I ever spent to learn. You can find them here: PHP/MYSQL Course. I had more than 2 years of practice with php/mySQL prior to the course. I had used many php scripts and built several Joomla extensions. But, I had too many holes in my knowledge. After completing the course, reading and using other codes was far superior. For me, without the classes, I know I would have been far behind what I am today.
After a total of 5 years playing around with php/mySQL(including school), I now own more than 6 php books for which 5 are my main references; PHP/mySQL, PHP Programming, mysql cookbook, PHP Cookbook and PHP Object Oriented Solutions. However, php.net is my main reference.
Nowadays, with more than 5 years later practicing / developing php/mySQL applications and working full-time for a college as a php / mysql programmer, much of the learning is embedded. Writing relational database queries, outputting desired results (without references), automatically writing secure code, creating lightweight CRUD applications, and being able to edit almost all code that is not mine is finally smooth. But, I love php / mySQL and still strive to get better.
Also, I find using my custom bookmark linking script and blog really helps to keep me keep a library of code samples for which I like or would like to pass on.
Somewhat of a side topic... with PHP 5.4 on the horizon (i.e. still in RC stage), why do books advertise PHP6 (and some have been for a couple years now)?
From what I have heard, php6 was developed years ago. Not sure the agenda, but it had deprecated many functions that leave millions of websites unusable. Even as php5 gets updated, some functions can deprecate and sites can break.
Books that advertise php 6 often displays information that works with php6 and php5, if not also php4.
Mmm... so kind of like the Python 2.x vs. 3.x flap thats going on... 3.x came out almost 3 years ago, but so much legacy code would be broken in everything from individual applications to utility scripts that operating systems (Linux) depend on that migration has been glacial at best. Gotcha.
Looks like PHP6 was and is vapor ware. There is no branch to even download and use if you wanted to, most of its improvements have been stolen for 5.3 and 5.4, and there appears to be some serious issues (political and technical) with its implementation of UTF8.