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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot ComposerRyan's Avatar
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    Best way to learn php from the very beginning stage?

    So, I am at a dead end job at the moment and have been applying to web design jobs only to realize...what do I not know php after all of these years?! And, so, now I believe it is a good time to start.

    I was considering paying the $20/month at educator.com, but I'm wondering if there are better ways to learn php? What resources do you recommend for a beginner like me, who has absolutely no experience? Also, how long does it take to learn php?

    Thanks for the help!

    Ryan

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot ComposerRyan's Avatar
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    And I was thinking about college, but college is sooooo expensive compared to the $20/month at educator.com (or if you know of a better resource, please let me know!) I have also considered buying books, but feel I want at least a video professor showing me and guiding me through it. I will be filling out my FAFSA form soon though to see if it can help pay off most of my expenses.

    How many of you graduated? Anyone here not go to college and find success in the web design field?

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot
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    PHP is one of the easiest languages out there to pick up but is somewhat difficult to master. The reason I say it is difficult to master is because there are 100 different ways to do the same thing in PHP with only two ways being the "most correct". While I hold a degree and know many programming and scripting languages, I taught myself everything I know. So getting the degree was the easy part. Also, experience trumps education in this field. There are a lot of people who apply for programming jobs and have a relevant degree that can't code their way through even the most basic of problems even if their lives depend on it.

    You say your goal is a web design job. Most web design jobs these days are more about "design" and less about "code" (i.e. can you make websites look pretty in raw HTML and CSS without Dreamweaver). Knowing PHP is generally a "plus" rather than a core requirement. Web programming, server-side jobs are a lot heavier on the "code" aspect. For PHP jobs, knowing PHP and MySQL is a core requirement with knowing other languages as a "plus" and design skills taking a secondary seat. That is a distinction you should be aware of. There are fewer jobs of the latter type available but the pay is better.

    You probably want to learn how to write software in a hurry, but it doesn't happen like that and the vast majority of programmers out there aren't very good. See thedailywtf.com (The Daily Worse Than Fail) for examples of bad programming habits - published daily - and those are just the published examples.

    As to reading material, I'd say watch StackOverflow.com, thedailywtf.com, and a couple freelancer websites. Specifically for PHP, I recommend learning the official documentation like the back of your hand and the best way to do that is to start writing some small applications in PHP. At least you'll have some experience and a small portfolio of code - and you'll be able to determine whether or not you like writing software. Writing software isn't easy or glamorous. When you are able to fully comprehend the difference between good code and bad code, you'll be in the top 20% of people applying for jobs. Also, find good programmers to model your own coding style after (stealing their code is not modeling) but don't worship them as some sort of hero either.
    Thomas Hruska

    Single Sign-On Server/Client - The PHP login system that rocks.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    You don't need to pay 20$ a month to learn PHP. You can buy pretty much any recent book and learn everything on your won.

    If you want to learn quickly I would suggest Lynda.com. I find video tutorials are the best way to learn.

  5. #5
    Keeper of the SFL StarLion's Avatar
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    "has absolutely no experience"

    I'm going to recycle a refrain I post... about once every quarter on this forum.

    Learning PHP is the skin on the pig.
    What i mean by that is; You say you have no experience. With PHP? Or with Programming?
    A logical programmer who knows how to take a problem (project) , dissect it into logical components, and order of operations, can code in any language under the sun - 99.9% theory, 0.1% syntax.

    For example:
    Problem: I need to make a contact form for this company.
    Breakdown: Okay, I will need...
    The form
    A handler
    What to do with the information.

    The form. Okay that's simple HTML design.
    The Handler. Okay, so first thing my handler needs to do is get all it's variables in scope, then test their validity.
    Then What to do with it: Okay client wants me to mail it to them.

    Pseudocode 1:
    get the variables
    check field name and phone for blanks
    if not blank, email form

    Pseudocode 2:
    get name from POST, put into $name
    get phone from POST, put into $phone
    if name is empty or phone is empty
    do nothing
    else
    mail form

    Pseudocode 3: (here is where finally you'll actually need some syntax)
    $name is $_POST['name']
    $phone is $_POST['phone']
    (if...do nothing makes no sense, so invert it)
    if $name is not empty and $phone is not empty
    mail form

    At that point, you're ready to actually apply your language. You've already got the program logic laid out, you just need to translate it into the proper syntax.
    Never grow up. The instant you do, you lose all ability to imagine great things, for fear of reality crashing in.


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