What I liked:
How pleasantly surprised and impressed I was with this book! Doug has written this with the novice, average, and advanced user in mind and has done a most excellent and impressive job.
I have been professionally building Information Systems for some 38 years now and got interested in PHP-Nuke back in 2001/2002. I run one of the most popular PHP-Nuke support/security sites on the Internet (Doug mentions it: [...]) and so I am highly critical, knowledgeable, and experienced when it comes to PHP-Nuke, PHP, and MySQL in general.
Doug's writing style is excellent. He takes you through a cursory understanding of the subject matter at hand. He then gives real-life examples. Then he challenges the reader with "What just happened?". But, he doesn't leave you there. He offers code to enhance the code and to entice you to do more. Doug explains every aspect of the core Nuke distribution and does it very well. His chapter on Changing the Theme is excellent and should help many a user to customize their site. Most other authors gloss over the theme area and more or less advise you to contact an expert.
What he doesn't do, and I am so glad he doesn't, is spend half the book on installing the environmental software needed to run PHP-Nuke. So many books waste (in my opinion) my money and time trying to show you how to install *nix/Windows, Apache/IIS, MySQL/RDBMS, and PHP/ASP. He assumes you are there and want to build a web site using PHP-Nuke. What he does do, is add an appendix that explains how to get up and running using a popular all-in-one application called XAMPP (XAMPP is an easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is really very easy to install and to use - just download, extract and start.) Then, all you do is add PHP-Nuke, follow his instructions, and you have a working web site!
What I didn't like:
There are two critical areas, in my opinion, that Doug seems to have avoided like the plague. In fairness, I can understand why he did. As a preface to the following comments, I think he just wanted to concentrate on the positive aspects and avoid the potentially subjective and argumentative issues that would be generated by introducing the issues. But, what he avoided telling the users will come back to haunt them, in a very severe way - being cracked.
The first thing is that the author (of PHP-Nuke), or current maintainer/owner of the name and original code, Francisco Burzi, does not offer any support at all for the CMS. He openly states on his web site "PHP-Nuke is distributed AS IS, without any warranty nor technical support according with the GPL license". In other words, you will get no support from the author. He also does not offer any forums for support so you will have to go elsewhere for support.
The second issue I have is a major one. PHP-NUKE, as distributed by Burzi, is very insecure and prone to many kinds of exploits. Doug does mention my site and a couple others for security updates and help, but if you blink, you will miss it. The security issues would easily warrant a chapter of its own. Any one who uses PHP-Nuke needs to know about the many security risks if installed as is, right from the virgin download.
Having said all that, I still give this 5 stars. This is a book that every Nuke user, regardless of your skill level, needs to have on their book shelf. I recommend it with the highest recommendation. This book easily surpasses every other book that has been published on PHP-Nuke, at least in English :). I can't comment on the ones that have been written in other languages.
Gaylen Fraley (aka Raven) ravenphpscripts.com