Book Information
Title: Professional PHP4 Multimedia Programming
Author: Devon H O'Dell, Andy Chase, et al.
Published by: Wrox Press Inc..
RRP: USD $49.99 (Less at Amazon)
Format: Mass-market paperback
User Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Review By: Andrew Madigan (Mad_A) for ActionScript.org

At a glance: 8/10

Find out how useful a tool PHP can become for a multimedia developer!

Review:

Professional PHP4 Multimedia Programming covers the main PHP extension libraries used for Multimedia.

What? OK, PHP allows us to run scripts on a webserver to deliver content to a user. If we want to build Multimedia content for that user (using PHP) we use PHPs extension libraries for Multimedia. These consist of Ming, GD, ImageMagick, PDFlib and FDF.

If you were starting PHP for the first time I would not recommend this book. However, if you have already experimented with PHP and are a fairly sharp coder you should definitely give it a try. As a Flash developer the most interesting chapters for me were the ones that dealt with Ming. Ming is a library that allows you to create (yes, CREATE) swf flash movies. I don't mind admitting that I had no idea this was possible with PHP. And I am sure there are a lot more people reading this whose minds are exploding with the possibilities this opens up.

While I would not recommend this for the absolute beginner, there is an excellent PHP refresher section that goes back over the full PHP language. So, if you have been a little lazy keeping your scripting skills up to scratch, here’s an opportunity to get a quick refresher course.

As it would suggest the PDFlib allows us to create PDFs. I have to admit that this section did not offer too much to me, as I dislike the PDF format itself. That being said - if you are running, or planning to build, a website which provides a large number of PDF files this could be the ideal way forward for you. To do this you would use FDF (Form Data Format) that allows us to fill PDF templates (or forms) from a data source. One great thing about the chapters on PDF and FDF is that they provide examples of practical usages when they are explaining functions. This is extremely helpful if you find yourself wondering, "What the hell would you use that for?”

The writing and presentation format will be familiar to anyone who has learnt from a Wrox book before - but for anyone who has not, it is brilliantly put together. I tried a lot of the samples and was delighted to find every piece clearly explained - explaining the syntax as well as the usage. The authors have written this book from the point of view of the student. The learning pace is quite fast, even for experienced programmers, but slow enough to ensure everyone can understand.

This is a book that will be a constant reference source. There are over eighty pages of syntax and function appendices. They are clearly divided into the different multimedia libraries, so you will not spend half the day finding out how to write that one line of code that is bothering you.