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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: From Novice to Professional
Publisher: Apress
Authors: W. J. Gilmore
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Comprehensive and Friendly

I recently finished reading this book, and have found it to be a comprehensive yet also user-friendly reference. It is rare to find this combination in a programming book, because the two are usually mutually exclusive. Based on my past experiences, how-to books are either very informative but too complicated for a beginner, or easy to understand but lacking in depth. Too often, those who are knowledgeable speak about a topic at a level too difficult for the layman to grasp.

This is not so with W.J. Gilmore. He is clearly an experienced programmer, in his thorough explanations of the intricacies of the language. What sets him and this book apart however, is the way he welcomes the beginner in his straightforward approach to the various topics. He covers the full spectrum of PHP5 / MySQL capabilities, and also elaborates on other closely related areas such as Apache, RSS, Smarty, and SQLite to name a few.

This book could very well be titled PHP / MySQL: And Everything Else Under the Sun. I bought both this and the companion text Essential PHP Tools, by David Sklar. Not to fault Sklar, but much of what is in his book is already covered in Gilmore's. Such topics include the Smarty templating engine, SOAP, and XML parsing.

I am a big adherent to the "So What" adage / principle. So, what does this mean for you, the end user, my fellow consumer and aspiring PHP5 programmer? It means that if you are looking for a volume which not only informs but also teaches, look no further. There are plenty of books out there that act as encyclopedias, but this one serves as both reference and guide.

If you are considering Gilmore's book amongst other options, purchase this one first and give it a read-through. If you still aren't satisfied, then look to other books to enhance your knowledge. My hunch is that as you progress in your understanding, you will find this book to be not only informative but also foundational to your programming skills.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Head First Servlets & JSP
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Bryan Basham, Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
ONLY for the exam. It is useless after the exam

The book may be good for the exam, because the authors are the exam creators. However, the book is not good to help us learning Servlet and JSP model. The examples in the book are really poor since they cannot inspire you to think in JSP or Servlet.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Composition + Delegation = Flexibility

This is an excellent book which teaches more than a few gems of software development and design. Developing to interfaces to be independent of implementation, favouring composition over inheritance, and the art of delegation are but a few.
The design patterns themselves are awesome and they take a while to sink in. I would be surprised if you could read through the book once from cover-to-cover and understand when and where each design pattern could be used. The authors give some good examples, but you really need to USE the design patterns to fully appreciate them. But, bear with it, this is a book worth studying! Study each design pattern, apply them, be enlightened.
One thing that struck me is that many of the patterns are similar and overlapping. They are not as distinct as one might originally think. In fact, it has become clear that the majority of patterns consist of composition and delegation, DELEGATION being the key concept. Understand and learn the art of delegation and you will become a better designer of design patterns. Understand the art of design patterns and you will become a better designer of software.
A truly excellent book that facilitates knowledge transfer of software design best practices. The beauty of this book is that it has probably contributed more to the adoption and spread of the software design pattern paradigm than the actual design patterns themselves. Bravo! We are all better off for it.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Inside C#, Second Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Everything I could ask for

For C# developers this book should be required reading. It will teach you to think in C#, to see the answers to problems without writing a line of code.
Archer writes in a very straightforward and easy style. I found the book hard to put down. The explanations are clear and concise.
The examples are extremely well-done. I learned as much from them as from the book itself. You'll want to work through every one of these - you'll learn tons from them.