Book Review – PHPEclipse A User Guide by Shu-Wai Chow

Book Review – PHPEclipse A User Guide by Shu-Wai Chow

Author:Shu-Wai Chow
ISBN: 1904811442
Publisher: Packt Publishing
228 pages
Published: Jan 2006

When you are first learning a new computer language such as PHP, you will want to complete each line of code and each phase of the program by hand and without using any shortcuts. This is the best way to learn. But as we all know, in the real world, we are all pressed for time. Many programmers turn to an IDE (integrated development environment) to keep them organized and to streamline the workflow. This book by Shu-Wai Chow will show you how to install, setup and use PHPEclipse which is a popular open source IDE for PHP programmers.

The author begins with an introduction to IDE's covering their main features and the pros and cons of using them. Following this, is an introduction to PHPEclipse, its history and architecture. Then the fun begins. Chow's tutorial-styled narrative walks you through each step as you install the main software; Apache, PHP, Java, Eclipse and PHPEclipse. I especially liked that he used the free, open source distribution/installation software called XAMPP which automates the installation of ApacheTM, MySQLR, PHP and Perl. He covers the installation for WindowsR, MacR and Linux. At this point you also install Java and PHPEclipse. Finally, he thoroughly discusses the user interface, the views (palettes) and dialog boxes and how you might want to customize these.

Once you have these installed, you begin to work on a real PHP application project which is a database driven website for an animal shelter. You learn how to set up this project's files and folders within PHPEclipse. Then you begin building the PHP code and supporting HTML, JavaScript and CSS files for the website. You also begin to work on the database, program objects and classes. Chow introduces some helpful tools at this point including WTP (Web Tools Platform project), HTML Tidy, Eclipse Tidy and phpDocumentor. I especially liked the phpDocumentor feature that builds the documentation for your application from your source code comments.

Debugging is the next topic and after an introduction to terms and concepts, Chow shows how to install and setup the DBG debugger. With this feature, you can use more sophisticated debugging practices than the basic echo ( ) function we all know so well. Chow walks you through a complete debugging session and discusses common strategies.

The next step is to turn PHPEclipse into a database client by the addition of the Quantum DB plug-in. Chow demonstrates how to use this with a relational database and how to perform common tasks such as writing SQL statements and manipulating tables.

Depending on your projects, you may or may not feel that you need the help of version control software to keep track of the changes made to your application. However, you will be surprised at how helpful this software is with even the simplest project. Chow helps you install, setup and use the CVS version control software with PHPEclipse and also discusses some common terms and concepts along the way. Lastly, Chow covers how to setup PHPEclipse to work with FTP, Secure FTP, WebDAV and Ant for publishing your new site.

As you can see, this book is more than just instructions on how to install these programs. It also gives you hands-on practice using them. You can download the complete application and sample files from the supporting website. Shu-Wai Chow has been working in the programming field for over eight years and is proficient in Java, JSP, PHP, ColdFusionR, ASP, LDAP, XSLT and XSL-FO.

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