As the title indicates, this book is all about building websites powered by database applications. The book uses PHP and MySQL for a scripting language and a database technology respectively. Familiarity with programming and computers is assumed but other than that, not much else is assumed. The authors do an excellent job of explaining some of the fundamental concepts underlying database driven websites. All this is done in simple terms without too much jargon. To top it all off, a tutorial style approach is taken to illustrate how all these concepts come together. The tutorial is on building an online retail site that sells wines. The sample code used in the book can be downloaded from the publisher's website.
PHP is a powerful language that is open source and that can be used in lieu of Java and .NET technologies for many web applications that aren't too complex. For most small business owners, this should suffice. I am not too sure about using it in large corporations. This is one of the most popular open source technology along with Linux and MySQL.
MySQL is an open source database that can be used instead of SQL Server, Access, or Oracle. Once again, when the database application gets complex, I am not confident of its ability to handle the complexity. This is also excellent for small businesses but not large corporations.
There are about 13 chapters and 5 appendices spanning 550 pages starting with an introduction to database applications and the web, continuing with an intro to PHP and MySQL, covering the main concepts behind web technologies and ending with the sample wine store application. The main concepts discussed are querying databases, writing to databases, validations on the server and client, session management, user authentication and security. The appendices handle installation, modeling and designing relational databases, managing sessions in the database tier, etc.
Overall, the selection of topics is perfect for Intermediate programmers and the explanations are very detailed yet simple. This is probably one of the reasons this book is so popular. I have thoroughly enjoyed using this book and I am not surprised to see such a high quality book from this publisher. I am not familiar with the authors but I am going to keep an eye open in the future for other books by them.
I felt it was a bit pricey for a book of this nature but this is the only one I could find that covered these specific topics so I am not going to complain. Enjoy creating your own database driven website!