Book review: Beginning Ajax with PHP by Lee Babin

Book Review
Apress: Beginning Ajax with PHP by Lee Babin

Book Site | Sample Chapter: 3 PHP and Ajax | Table of Contents

Although no stranger to Ajax, I received a review copy of Beginning Ajax with PHP expecting some watered down presentation of Javascript with some PHP thrown in. I was quite surprised to find a good presentation of using Ajax and PHP, easy enough for the beginner and still interesting for those who have done it for years.

The book starts out exactly how I would write it -- SIMPLE! The first time I did Ajax with XHR (xml http request), I used a plain text file, which I then read into a DIV at the click of a link. This takes a similar approach and has data stored in an array which is then accessed with a simple call to a PHP file. The following chapter, takes it a step further and this building upon previous chapters is a common theme in the book.

Book Review: PHP Hacks

Book Review: PHP Hacks by Jack D. Herrington, published by O'Reilly

I had borrowed a Perl Hacks book from and friend and really liked it, it was great! It had a lot of practical things as well as some fun things. I expected the same from PHP Hacks and I was not disappointed!

Here’s the table of contents:

O’Reilly also has some sample hacks:

Here's some that I found interesting:

The Practical Stuff

Not familiar with the term? Check it out. I think this hack may get you started on a breadcrumb function/method. In the end they suggest a xml file to show which page urls were parents of which. The way I've done this before was I had a class for each major section, and sub section, and had a method ->addCrumb($label, $url) which I had in the constructor…and the subsections of course would call the parent contructor and it kept the breadcrumb hierarchy intact. But hey, that’s the fun of programming - different ways to do the same thing to meet different needs! Definitely a good hack to get the juices flowing!

Web 2.0 - A Second Chance To Make The Same UI Mistakes

Get ready kids. It's time to play the newest game in town; "Guess What This Control Will Do". Today's action packed game includes all sorts of links, drop-down lists, buttons and icons that don't do at all what you expect. Today's article is going to attempt to help (former) HTML jockey's understand the UI concepts that rich interface designers have been using for the last decade. There are simply too many UI mistakes being introduced into today's Web 2.0 applications.

CodeSnipers Contest - Deadline Nears

Update: After an unexpected outage from Thursday morning until Friday evening, I am extending the contest until 11:59pm EDT on September 5th. I apologize for the change of plans and would like to thank Nola for her debugging and forensics.

Don't forget that 11:59pm EDT on September 1st - about 38 hours from now - is the deadline for our CodeSnipers essay contest:

We are accepting essays about "the technology person who has had the biggest impact on me". Write 2-3 paragraphs and tell us how the person has made the impact on you. It can be a positive or a negative, related to business, technology, marketing, etc, but the person(s) *must* be involved in technology.

The prize is $50 in books from the Pragmatic Programmers. They have a variety of books on software development, project management, team tools, and misc other things, so you should find a variety of things to suite your tastes and experience. Shipping in the continental US does not count against this total but other shipping does. Conveniently, the Pragmatic Programmers sell ebooks of all their stuff.

The Underground PHP and Oracle manual

Chris Jones just announced the publication of the PHP and Oracle Manual (PDF) and from a high speed eyeballing, it’s good—basically tells you everything you need to know to be able to do useful stuff with PHP + Oracle but with little assumed knowledge.

In fact it seems to be geared to the typical LAMP developer—for example there’s a section on “Installing Oracle XE on Debian, Ubuntu and Kubuntu” plus sections on “Limiting Rows and Creating Paged Datasets” and “Auto-Increment Columns” show an awareness that readers will probably have MySQL experience.

Perhaps one addendum (I didn’t find reference to it) would be pointing readers at SQL Developer, which is a fairly new, free offering from Oracle as a desktop based development tool—the Underground manual focuses on a web based interface to Oracle—something logically equivalent to phpMyAdmin and a good starting point I guess but if you have to do real work, SQL Developer is probably a better choice.

Finding your Blue Ocean

One of the hardest problems starting a micro-ISV is defining your product, and one of the best ways to frame this question comes from a very unlikely source: the Harvard Business School press.

MBA stuff is usually about as useful to developers and feathers on a fish; MBA’s tend to be the people who wander from corporate cubicle to meeting, muttering in incomprehensible management-talk. Yet, here’s a book by two highly prominent MBA academicians that nails how micro-ISVs can find the right application or web service to create.

Now Chan Kim and Bruce Henderson didn’t set out in Blue Ocean Strategy to find out how startups can define what they are starting up – they wanted to find the key secret sauce of why when big businesses start new businesses some take off, most putter along a few crash and burn spectacularly. But hey, I’ll take it.

The Art of SQL

Graeme Williams writes "One difference between SQL and a conventional procedural programming language is that for SQL there's a bigger gap between what the code says and what the code does. The Art of SQL is the opposite of a cookbook – or rather it's about cooking rather than recipes. It's not a reference manual, although there's plenty to refer back to. It's an intermediate level book which assumes you know how to read and write SQL, and analyzes what SQL does and how it does it." Read on for Graeme's review.

Software Development Book Club

We want your opinion and point of view - and I bet you want to give it to us! So, how would you like to join a book club with your on-line peers?

After last week's post where I mentioned a community workspace I set up at work, Keith and Nola started doing some brainstorming on how we could do something similar with an off-shoot of this site.

Now, we need your ideas on how to set it up and what features it should have, and your opinions on how to make it interesting enough to make you want to participate. There's a common refrain that goes, "I'd love to, but I just don't have enough time." Well, that's only half true because if you really wanted to and looked forward to it, you'd make time to do it. So what would it take to make you look forward to participating?

Last week I read a good quote somewhere about professional development that went something like, 'Where you're at professionally in 5 years will have a lot to do with the quality of books you're reading today.' (if anyone recognizes that quote, post the link to its true source!)

Learning Design Patterns - Singleton

A while ago now I bought this book on design patterns. At first glance, this book may seem a little silly, childish even, because of all the cartoonish thought bubbles on amusing old photographs and the crosswords and such. After reading the introduction that explained how making learning fun and interesting, and how they were going to trick my brain into paying attention to an otherwise dull subject, and how they sneaked in repetition and other memory inducing tricks, it started to make a lot of sense to me. Even though this book is targeted more at Java developers and I am a .Net developer, it is general enough and explains the concepts well enough that I have no problems understanding it.

Interview: Chris Shiflett of Essential PHP Security

This is the third in a series of interviews we're making available to the CodeSnipers community. We have been working to track down people who we thought had something valuable to say about the software development community, tools, practices, or direction. Some of the names you will recognize immediately, others you've probably never heard of, but all of them have made an impact in one way or another. Without further delay... we have Chris Shiflett author of Essential PHP Security.

Security is one of those things that many developers think to "bolt on" after the main system has been developed. What is the proper way to think about web application security?

Security isn't much different than other abstract concerns such as performance, maintainability, and reliability. None of these characteristics can be added very easily to an existing application - they need to be considered during every stage of development. (It's like trying to add wisdom to a child.)

They're also difficult to measure. The measure of an application's security is its ability to predict and prevent security problems before they are exploited. It's an ongoing process that begins with a solid design.