PHP/mySQL - requesting resources for learning and application development

CALTRADE posted 2nd of January 2010 in Community Voice. 7 comments.

Hi, I am trying to learn PHP/mySQL for probably the 10th time.  I've probably got 50 ebooks on the topic here, but for some reason it doesn't seem to "take" with me.   I've come to the conclusion though, that I have no choice but to learn it to a level where I can at least hack at things and manage databases more effectively.  I learn better when I work on a real application,  and since I also have a real-world project that needs to get going that is where I am going to spend my time.  It is a system for managing trade opportunities, I have an existing script for this that did some incredible things, but I may be starting from scratch on this, so am requesting help on any resources people may know about to help me get underway.  This includes code generators - I know they may not be great for pure learning, but I need to have some thing operating at least crudely fairly quickly.  Please let me know if you have any recommendation on tools or other resources I can use for this.  For the benefit of people in the same spot as me, below are a few resources I have found useful:

SQLyog - This seems to be the best database management system for mySQL.  The "enterprise" version looks great, but I have been able to do quite a bit with their free version.

PHP for the Absolute Beginner. As I mentioned, I have tons of ebooks,  but I found this tutorial to be the best "cut to the chase" resource.

PHP Designer 7. I  have this on my computer, but have to admit I haven't used it, though it does look good.

PHP Form. I just found this and it does seem to be a useful service.  My next step may be to use it to connect with a mysql database I have already created:

That last one should give you an idea of where I am on this project.  While I completely understand the structure of this kind of data, the actual implementation is in its very early stages.  At the same time, I have data I need to manage and work with right now, so have also put together a jotform and then trying to put the results in a D7 PHP Block.  This is all quite a challenge for me, so if anyone can recommend resources to make this a little less painful I would like to hear them. Rob

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Thanks - those look like good books - I will probably put at least one of those on order.

I also forgot to mention "smarty" - is anyone using that? The guys that make the directory software I use develop with it and they do some incredible things. Dosdawg mentioned though that is doesn't play well with Dolphin.
If you already understand the concepts of HTML, PHP, MySQL, CSS.. so on but you want cheatsheets. GET THIS!

I haven't got it yet but I will def get it. I'm waiting for 2010 Edition. :D
Personally, I am more fan of online books/tutorials as I can access them anytime anywhere. For PHP, I would recommend this online book -

WebYog is good. You can also use the official MySQL GUI components which is free as well.
Best point of reference for php is the php site - full online manuals with user contributed comments.

There's plenty of general online tutorials, but one that usually delivers the goods is - something for everything - HTML / CSS / SQL PHP ETC etc. Use it as a point of reference when you get stuck, or work through some of their tutorials

One BIG BIG tip. Don't try to teach yourself PHP / SQL by using or modding Dolphin, it's simply not very see more tidy code and will be harder to learn with. It is also full of bad coding habits that you do not want to pick up (sorry Boonex)

My best advice - start at the beginning (you may already be familiar with some of this)

1 - Write a HTML only site - learn the difference between content and style, understand how DIV and SPAN works an the relationship between bock level tags.
2 - Add in CSS - learn the difference between inline style and style sheets.
3 - Convert what you have done so far into a simple hard coded php site. Initially echo the content of the HTML page out to the browser, but then figure out how to create a simple template system - by reading in the HTML from an external file and then manipulating it by replacing markers within the content.
4 - Now move the content to a database and call it from the php script. Then read it into the code and apply it to your template.

Once this is mastered you should then look at HTML forms and learn how post vars work - then try creating a simple form to input data into the database. Then look at getting to grips with data manipulation / user authentication /
Things to learn - separation of style and content - very very important - check out this site for inspiration of what is possible with HTML and CSS alone -

Read about the right way to code, web standards are important for how HTML and CSS is presented to our browsers - A list apart is a great site to help keep abreast of web standards.

Correct coding conventions are also very important - the way you write code - The way it is presented see more to others. There is generally several ways to write the same statement, and more ways of achieving the same result, but try to learn stuff like which conditional statements are faster? which ones should you use? how should you write them? are abbreviated forms acceptable? Should you cater for different server setups?

There are a multitude of these type of questions that should follow conventions if implemented correctly.

Regarding Smarty - I use it on a few sites that I've written, it's a great templating system that is very easy to implement. It is extremely powerful when coupled with associative arrays or class (object) based coding. You can very quickly get a site together by paying attention to database structuring, and object properties and aligning both with your templates.

Using libraries such as Smarty (or Jquery - as Dolphin does), is a quick way to get results without having to hard code everything from scratch, most of the time, learning how to implement / modify a library, is more use than learning how to write code to replicate it, and a darn site quicker too.

Try looking at a few of these sites -

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