Book Review – Beginning Ajax with PHP From Novice to Professional by Lee Babin

Book Review – Beginning Ajax with PHP From Novice to Professional by Lee Babin

Author: Lee Babin
ISBN: 1590596676
Publisher: Apress
272 pages
Published: Oct 2006

Ajax is a JavaScript based language and therefore many web programmers cringe at the thought of using Ajax on their webpages. Lee Babin has written this book to help those of us new to Ajax learn how to use this new language without being intimidated by its JavaScript origins. After a brief history and introduction to Ajax, Babin begins by discussing the purpose of Ajax in web applications and some of the Ajax basics such as sending server requests without causing the webpage to refresh.

Next, he introduces PHP into the mix and gives several examples of how Ajax can facilitate the communication between client and server in web applications. He uses several everyday examples such as auto-complete and form validation. The next step in learning how to write good web applications is to introduce a database. Babin uses the MySQLR database in his working example which is a web based calendar application. I really liked the continuity the author achieved by using this same example throughout the rest of the book. For example in the next chapter, he covers form validation in more detail and then shows how to add this feature to the calendar application.

One advantage of using Ajax and PHP together is how well they handle tasks such as manipulating and displaying images on webpages. Babin first discusses how to generate thumbnail images on the fly and then applies this to a photo gallery. A photo gallery application is often used when teaching a new programming language because it can be used in many situations. However, Babin especially points out how Ajax can be used to improve on the common web based photo gallery.

One of the things programmers love to do when they learn a new programming language is to use it everywhere. Babin discusses why you should avoid this common mistake and explains when it is most useful to use Ajax to enhance your website. For example, he discusses the popularity of web services such as the GoogleTM search engine and PayPalR payment processing and how to use Ajax to incorporate these services into your site.

As we all know, cross-browser coding is an issue that never seems to be resolved completely. Babin discusses this and other problems encountered when using Ajax. For example, what do you do when the user has turned off JavaScript in his web browser or when the Back and Forward buttons stop working. Finally, he covers how to handle security issues specific to using Ajax.

Lee Babin has been programming for many years and owns his own development company. He has worked on 100+ projects.

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