Book review: PHP 5 Power Programming <i>by Stig Bakken, Andi Gutmans, Derick Rethans</i>

PHP is, in my opinion, the best computer language for developing almost any kind of web application. The authors of “PHP 5 Power Programming” apparently agree—they’ve written the most in-depth guide to the changes and new features in PHP 5 I have ever seen. Many free software web applications such as blog tools and content management systems are written in this versatile language.

The book’s cover

My first impression of this book was “It’s huge!” This book tips the scale at 720 pages, nearly 1 1/2inches thick and 2.2 pounds. Being a PHP programmer myself, I enthusiastically dug in, 69 pages later I began to realize just how in-depth this book was. It’s listed just about every major change to the PHP5 language, as well as practical advice for writing PHP scripts with a focus on Object Oriented Programming (aka OOP) including design patterns.

I enthusiastically dug in, 69 pages later I began to realize just how in depth this book was

The contents

As I mentioned before, at 720 pages this isn’t a book you could read in one sitting. This is the ultimate resource for those moving from PHP4 to PHP5 and for those who want to learn how to program object oriented PHP.

Among the chapters in this book are “Advanced OOP and Design Patterns”, “How to Write a Web Application with PHP”, “Databases with PHP 5” and “Using PEAR”, just to name a few. This book also has sections on PHP shell scripting and using the PHP Zend engine.

All of the book’s chapters are well outlined, with examples and in-depth explanations of how and why the examples work. This book outlines just about every major feature of PHP5 with detail that I haven’t seen in any other PHP book I’ve read. Most books tend to be compatible with both PHP4 and PHP5, while this book focuses mainly on the new PHP5 features and coding patterns.

All of the book’s chapters are well outlined, with examples and in-depth explanations of how and why the examples work

Who’s this book for?

This book would be most useful to those who already have at least a working knowledge of PHP’s basic structure, or someone who already knows PHP4 but wants to begin using the advanced features of PHP5.

Newbies probably won’t be happy with this book, as it tends to “dive in” to the subject matter at hand. If you just want to start learning PHP, you would probably be happier with PHP for the World Wide Web, Third Edition by Peachpit Press.

That said, if you know some basic PHP and you’ve heard about the OOP hype, or you just want to build more powerful applications (who doesn’t?) this book is for you.

Relevance to free software

PHP itself is free software, so the entire book is very relevant to free software. Having said that, they did try to pitch the Zend Studio IDE in the book (hey, they have to make their money too ;o) ), which is a commercial product. Although, I think most PHP programmers will agree that you don’t really need an IDE to program PHP, just a nice text editor.


The biggest pro this book has is its sheer depth, its information on OOP alone makes it worth having on every PHP programmer’s bookshelf. It uses clear scripts and excellent explanations to make learning the functions easy, and actually fun.


There is only one real con, the book is directed at PHP4 programmers or those with a basic knowledge of PHP5. As I mentioned earlier, newbies to PHP probably won’t want to make this their first PHP book; but probably their second.

Title PHP 5 Power Programming
Authors Andi Gutmans, Stig Saether Bakken and Derick Rethans
Publisher Prentice Hall
ISBN 013147149X
Year 2004
Pages 720
CD included No
FS Oriented 9.5
Over all score 9

In short


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.