Looking for the best PHP books to get you up to speed or hone your skills?
This list was first published in 2011, and has been updated yearly since.
PHP is an open source server-side scripting language designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages. It is used extensively by web designers and developers due to its free, community-backed nature and prevalence throughout the web. Many web apps and CMS’ such as WordPress and Drupal are built from the ground up using PHP. For these reasons alone it is extremely popular, and PHP books line the shelves of nearly every web developer and designer.
If you are only looking for one or two PHP books, I definitely recommend one of the three 5-star listed ones here. They are popular, well-written, well-received and easy to follow for even those completely new to programming in general.
Beginning PHP 5.3
Topping this list is the extremely well received Beginning PHP. At 800 pages, this book is the best on the market for teaching PHP and programming concepts in general to beginners. Simple, straight-forward and concise, it is also an ideal resource for students learning the language. Topics and exercises cover advanced topics from PDO, expressions and image creation to object oriented programming (OOP). Exercises follow every chapter with solutions and explanations throughout and at the end of the book. Overall, a well thought out, extremely well- received book that successfully teaches a complicated subject to anyone ready to learn it. Read more..
PHP Solutions: Dynamic Web Design Made Easy
The second 5-star rated PHP book to hit this list is the highly recommended and popular PHP Solutions. Rather than reading like a linear tutorial, it follows a solution-oriented approach to getting things done with the language. The book begins by preparing the reader for installing and testing the PHP, MySQL database, and Apache server trinity on Windows or Mac. The majority of the book however is spent developing a PHP site from the ground up. There are plenty of supporting exercises and material throughout the book, as well as example downloadable files and folders. The overall approach and writing style of this book makes it a winner to those who have read it. Read more..
PHP and MySQL Web Development
The third and final 5 star PHP book to make the list, PHP and MySQL Web Development clearly describes the basics of the language, MySQL databases, web servers, and how the three communicate and interact with one another to create dynamic websites. It covers complex subject material in a clear and straight-forward manner and breaks down the more technical aspects of PHP so that it makes sense. Numerous examples littered throughout the book demonstrate common tasks such as authentication, shopping cards, PDF documents, email, and connecting to web services. Read more..
Murach’s PHP and MySQL
Another highly recommended book from the popular Murach series. Aimed at true beginners, it begins with a thorough introduction to the essentials of PHP and SQL. Topics such as client vs server side programming, cross-language and client-server communication, database connections and programming, and how Apache acts as a web server are covered. It does this smoothly and logically, making it easy for beginners to gain a sound grasp of the fundamentals and works from there. Many readers love the Murach series for its clear layout style and organization, with descripting text on the left page and samples, bullet points, and summaries on the right page. This design helps the book work as a reference as well as a learning tool for novices and pros alike. Read more..
PHP for the Web: Visual QuickStart Guide
A well-received book overall, PHP for the Web is great for both beginners and intermediate readers, including those brand new to programming. The pace of the writing is easy to follow and important subjects are explained clearly to fill in any knowledge gaps. This book is very visual, with a task-based approach to learning, logically building up on previous chapters as you progress. With plenty of screenshots, clear instructions and a collection of excellent ‘tips’ throughout the book, the easy-to-follow lessons and sample scripts ensure you’re brought up to speed with PHP in good time. Read more..
PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide
PHP Cookbook: Solutions and Examples for PHP Programmers
The PHP Cookbook is organized by common problems and tasks and is loaded with practical solutions which can be used as building blocks for all kinds of PHP applications. It follows by providing a lengthy discussion of and explanation for why the solution is a good one and how it works. The code solutions are tight and well-written, and more advanced users may find they are upgrades for coding tasks done in the past. Because of the broad range of problems, beginners and advanced users will find this book useful as a reference and tool for honing their PHP skills. Read more..
Head First PHP & MySQL
Head First PHP & MySQL is no different from the rest of this memorable series that is perfect for true beginners or students. Besides being extremely visually rich, it is packed full of exercises, quizzes, puzzles and other interactive features to help you master the relevant topics. These books are always good at explaining more complex topics in a simple and straight-forward manner to help you understand and master the described concepts. Great if you find the idea of learning PHP daunting and want a smooth and painless entry into the subject. Read more..