I picked up this book from my school library, but it was not easy to borrow this book from there because it was checked out everytime I was trying to look through the library catalog, despite there were about 2 ~ 4 books showed up as "checked out". And I have to say that, when I finally found this book from the shelf and checked it out, the included CD was checked out by someone else.
Let me start with the format of this book. I am pretty sure that quite a lot of people here mentioned this fact in their reviews, but I have to say that this book has one of most interesting types of format I have read from the computer learning books. The author, who appears to have a plenty of experiences and background in the Web design and the programming, is able to express the material clearly without any kind of bragging or lossing herself in the middle of explanation. Her main application theme is "a pet store," which she was demonstrating extensively at the Chapters 11 and 12 as an actual application that is usable.
Before jumping into the "pet store application," it is necessary to mention her other teaching approaches in the previous chapters. At the first few chapters, she definitely put the emphasis on planning out and organizing the structure of your database and website before jumping into typing. In fact, she continues this trend further in the later chapters by suggesting to go back to the Chapter 3, a chapter which is entirely dedicated to the creating the database structure with a pen and a paper, and coming back again on Chapter 10, which I felt as a sort of short review for what a reader read so far. And I belive this format is one of best, if not the best, because this somehow closely resembles a school textbook that requires you to master and to think about the subject to proceed. She also does not skip the possible commands or queries by putting in a neat table that shows the script with their description next to it.
But most helpful and joyful part of this book is the application. Because the application here is rather long while needs the understanding, I strongly believe it is not a wise idea to jump into the application without understanding solidly on PHP or MySQL from the previous chapters. However, I have read the book almost throughly, and I right now have created an internet order system of my own with the shopping cart in addition to the catalog. Well, the "shopping cart" was not mentioned in the book, but this book was constructed in such a way that you can actually build your own applications or modify others. And because she used the "pet" as her main subject of the application, it will definitely not turn down the most of readers who just hate to be simply geeks and get bored reading such subject in the book. And because the book actually shows the screenshots of the application and the results after running the application, you cannot help trusting that the application is actually going to work and be an awesome one at that.
There are some problems with the book, however. One serious problem is that there are quite many typos in the book that can give you some headache. However, if you follow the book well or have some common experiences in debugging in the programming, this will actually become a mental exercise for you to understand better. At least that is what I think... The second problem is that the book does not extend beyond the advanced topic. Hence, if you are an advanced PHP or MySQL programmer and bought this book, it is very possible that you are going to be disappointed. Nevertheless, this book was meant for beginning programmer and it does the job so well at least for that purpose. And I think some experienced programmers will find this as an interesting book to scan over.
Coming back to my story... I did not have the CD when I checked out this book, but I think you can find the list of some applications in the website of the author. And while I had experienced some headache in trying out to figure out what was wrong with my application while there were typos, if you got a CD or if you visit her website, which I did not yet, I think you are going to be far better ahead with this book. Yes, I have to admit that I had some experiences with the programming, but I think this will definitely be easy to read for the completely new comers as well. This, in fact, is a much better book that other Dummy book that was published with 5 topics in one(I am not saying which one). And I have finished with this book during the Summer, which was enough time to be more experienced with so called PHP and MySql and to develop my own shopping page application. Hope this helped you.