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Book Review


Open Source Web Development with LAMP
Using Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl and PHP

picture of book cover

Also covers WML, mod_perl,
Embperl and Mason

  • By James Lee and Brent Ware
  • Addison Wesley, 2003.
  • ISDN 0-201-77061-X
  • Paperback, 460 pages.
  • Limited Availability

This book reminds me of a survey course -- it is a broad brush across the field of web development. The authors intended this book to provide a basic level of knowledge of the various ways to do web development, so that an inexperienced web developer can make intelligent decisions about which languages to learn and use. It succeeds admirably in this role. Further, the authors occasionally inject some pertinent, off-beat humor, just to make sure we are paying attention.

Linux receives early but very limited discussion. This is not a book to teach you to run a Linux box. There is more discussion of Apache, but, again, it is not enough to teach you to run an Apache server. It is enough to exposure you to the complications of running an Apache server yourself.

The authors spend the majority of their well-directed efforts on MySQL (22 pages), Perl including regular expressions (52 pages), WML (52 pages), CGI with Perl, mod_perl, Server Side Includes, Embperl, Mason, and finally 56 pages on PHP.

At the appropriate time during the discussion of a topic, the authors address related security issues such as validating input, (not) trusting hidden fields, checking length of inputs, and Apache's .htaccess files. Even though you might not be interested in a particular language, you should read all the sections to pick up the more general hints that may be found there.

The authors discuss similarities between languages and modules, and also point out the differences. There is little fluff in this book. The obligatory discourse on the foundation and growth of Linux is about the only thing that you can speed-read. This book will live on my bookshelf and be re-read occasionally. The authors have provided a good mix of code and discussion. I found their approach to code samples most enlightening -- first, they briefly told what the code would do, then gave the code, and then the detailed explanation. I found this very instructive, as I could work through the code to understand it, and then have their explanation to check my understanding.

The bottom line
This book is aimed at the novice to intermediate who wants to graduate from simple webpages to custom crafted ones, but doesn't know how to get started. It hits the mark.

Review by Terry Stockdale

Copyright © 2004-2006 Terry A. Stockdale

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