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6 Best Books to Learn PHP and Master Your Skills

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It’s not a secret that PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages for the back-end when it comes to web development. According to BuiltWith, more than 91 million websites are currently powered by PHP which is a quite outstanding market share. It’s also a technology proven by time. The first version of PHP was released almost twenty-five years ago (in 1994 to be more precise) and we still use this language. On top of that, WordPress, a widely-used content management system, is PHP-based. So the reputation of this technology needs no further confirmation.

Nowadays, there is a huge demand for PHP professionals since a lot of business owners want to build their web solutions using this scripting language. For this article, we collected six best programming books that will help you get started or enhance your existing knowledge of PHP. Whether you’re a beginner, experienced developer or CTO searching for the best tech stack for your new web development project, we believe the list will come in handy.

  1. The Joy of PHP Programming
  2. Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS (5th edition)
  3. Murach’s PHP and MySQL (3rd edition)
  4. PHP and MySQL Web Development (5th edition)
  5. PHP Cookbook (3rd edition)
  6. PHP Microservices

The Joy of PHP Programming

PHP book

The choice of the first book we want to introduce you to is not accidental. The Joy of PHP Programming by Alan Forbes is a great fit for those who are just starting off in programming. Besides information on what PHP is and how it works, this book covers some basics of HTML. So even if you don’t know anything about coding, you’ll be able to understand the content.  

Another reason why we have this book among the best books on PHP is that it’s not just about reading. The Joy of PHP Programming also contains exercises and this is a real treasure for those who haven’t written a line of code yet.  

Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS (5th edition)

PHP book

The full title of this book is Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript: With jQuery, CSS & HTML5 and, as you might have already guessed, it’s not limited just to PHP.  But even if you haven’t planned to learn other technologies covered in this book, we still encourage you to read the relevant chapters. This will allow you to take a bird’s eye view on web development and see how PHP works in the context of a complete product.

Like The Joy of PHP Programming, this tutorial is also a good choice for beginners. Although it’s recommended that you already have some basic knowledge of HTML to get the most out of its content, the first chapter contains a comprehensive explanation of dynamic web content. So you’ll not get lost even if Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript is the first book on programming you opened.

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Murach’s PHP and MySQL (3rd edition)

PHP book

Murach’s PHP and MySQL is one of the best PHP tutorial books for those who already have some experience in coding but are eager to add this technology to their current skill set. It’s extremely practical so right after a brief introduction to PHP and MySQL, you’ll get your hands dirty with building a database-driven web app.

Another awesome thing about this book is that this third edition contains explanations of the latest versions of PHP and MySQL. So you don’t have to worry that you’ll spend time reading obsolete and irrelevant information.

PHP and MySQL Web Development (5th edition)

PHP book

PHP and MySQL Web Development is a book for software engineers who want to learn PHP.  It starts with a brief crash course so even if PHP is a completely new technology for you, you’ll be able to catch up easily.

On top of that, the book is not just a bare theory. Since PHP and MySQL Web Development is meant for practicing developers, it’s full of real-world examples of applications. The authors also provide lots of practical recommendations in all the chapters. This creates the feeling that you’re not just reading a book but attending a workshop held by experienced programmers.

PHP Cookbook (3rd edition)

PHP book

PHP Cookbook is intended to help programmers who already work with this language find quick solutions to common problems. That’s why you can keep it on your office bookshelf as a reference. So anyone who faces some challenges in course of PHP coding will be able to search for useful hints there.

It’s worth mentioning that the book covers some basics aspects of PHP but it is not intended to be a step-by-step guide to learning this language. For this reason, you need to have a good understanding of how everything works to take advantage of the “recipes” outlined on its pages.

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PHP Microservices

PHP book

PHP Microservices is another book for experienced PHP developers. It serves two main purposes. First, to teach the readers how to build a web application based on microservices from scratch. And second, to help programmers transit from a monolithic architecture to microservices.

As this book doesn’t contain any intro information on PHP, it is a decent choice for software engineers who already work with this technology but want to master their skills.

Can’t wait to get started with PHP learning?
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Of course, to learn programming, reading books is never enough — you also need to practice a lot. But understanding the basics is essential and it’s the only way you can see the big picture rather than just a piece of code you’re specifically working on. And as programmers who have a vast experience in this technology, we can say for sure that a journey to becoming PHP expert is rocky but joyful. Just open one of the PHP programming books outlined in this article and you’ll see it for yourself!


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