6 Best Books to Learn PHP and Master Your Skills

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It’s no secret that PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages used for web development when it comes down to the back end. BuiltWith confirms that more than 91 million websites are currently powered by this scripting language, being a technology improved by time has cemented PHP as a market share that is here to stay. One of the most extensive blog hosting software in the world, WordPress, is powered by PHP, currently sits 60 million blogs strong; a true testament to a language first written in 1994. 

Fast forward to now, there is a huge demand for PHP professionals as a lot of businesses are wanting to build their websites and web solutions using this language. For those interested in PHP, we collected the 6 best programming books to help you get started or improve existing knowledge. 

  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

Our first choice is no accident, this immersive read by Alan Forbes is a fantastic fit for those who are just starting off in the world of programming; whilst it includes information on the basics of PHP and how it works, it also covers some basics in HTML. Making this an easy read, even if you struggle to understand coding, the content is understandable. 

Another key element to this book, is that The Joy of PCP Programming also has exercises, giving you a way to test your knowledge and put into practice what you have learnt from reading, a real goldmine for anyone who hasn’t written a single line of code yet. 

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

As the title suggests for this book, its not limited to just PHP. Even if you don’t or haven’t planned on learning other languages and technologies in this book, we still encourage you to read them as it gets into the real nitty-gritty areas of web development but also how PHP fits in the context of a complete product. 

Similar to Alan Forbes’ book, this is a great choice for beginners, but we recommend that you have some basic knowledge of HTML in order to get the most out of the content included as the first chapter takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic web content. 

Murach’s PHP and MySQL (3rd edition)

If you have some coding experience but are eager to add PHP to your repertoire, we can’t recommend Murach’s PHP and MySQL enough! It’s a highly practical book that introduces you to PHP and MySQL, then gets your hands dirty with building a database-driven web app.

With this book being the 3rd edition, it also goes over the latest PHP and MySQL versions, eliminating any obsolete information included in competitor’s books or older versions published years before. Murach and Harris give the perfect combination of knowledge and practical activity to allow anyone looking to learn this technology the chance to do so and put it straight to use with a guided practical making it truly the best of both worlds. 

PHP and MySQL Web Development (5th edition)

PHP and MySQL Web Development is the perfect book for existing software engineers who want to learn PHP for their existing job roles. Beginning with a short crash course, it gets you up to speed on PHP effortlessly, even if this is a new technology for you. 

But the piece de resistance of this book is the rich amount of practical and real-world examples of applications that the authors provide you in each of the chapters. This book creates a feeling of not just reading but attending a workshop held by experienced programmers who are introducing you to PHP.

PHP Cookbook (3rd edition)

Despite being written in 2014, this book is fantastic for existing programmers to find quick solutions to common problems, making it an excellent reference book to keep handy for those tricky situations you may find yourself in when PHP coding. 

Whilst this book does cover some basic areas of PHP coding; it is not intended to be used as a step-by-step guide to learning the language, and for this reason, you will need to have prior knowledge of how everything works in order to take full advantage of what this book has to offer. 

PHP Microservices

This is another book for those experienced in PHP development, its two primary purposes are to teach readers how to create web application based on microservices and to help programmers transit from monolithic architecture to microservices. This allows for independent scaling, which is resilient to failure, a great importance to clients needing this service. 

As this book doesn’t contain any introductory information on PHP, it is the perfect choice for software engineers who already work with this technology and want to master their skills for new projects or business ventures. 

With any new skill you begin to learn, reading is never enough and you will need to practice a lot! But having a fundamental understanding of the basics is essential for seeing the bigger picture and not just lines of code you are working on. As programmers who have a vast amount of experience in this technology, we can say that the journey to becoming an expert in this form of coding can be rocky, but the results are joyful. Start by opening one of the PHP programming books shown in this article and see for yourself!