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All information current as of 01:15:01 Pacific Time, Sunday, 20 February 2005.


   by Vikram Vaswani

    15 July, 2002


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Editorial description(s):

From Book News, Inc.
This book introduces PHP developers to the synergies that become visible when PHP is combined with XML. It teaches PHP developers how to use PHP's XML functions to develop and maintain XML-based web applications and sites, and demonstrates the power inherent in the XML/PHP combination. The book provides information on all major XML technologies supported in PHP, showing how the XML/PHP combination can be used to deliver web applications through examples and case studies. Vaswani is the founder and CEO of a company specializing in content creation and syndication services.Book News, Inc.®, Portland, OR

Book Info
A clear, concise guide to the synergies between XML and PHP, many of which are not immediately visible to intermediate developers. Demonstrates how PHP and XML can be combined to build cutting-edge Web applications. Softcover.

About the Author

Vikram Vaswani is the founder and CEO of Melonfire (, a company specializing in software consultancy, and content creation and syndication services.

Vikram is also the author of numerous well-received articles on open-source technologies (including Perl, Python, XML, and the very popular PHP 101 series), all written with the goal of making complex technologies accessible and understandable to novice users. He has been developing software since 1995, was first introduced to PHP in 1998, and hasn't looked back since. His favorite activities include reading, sleeping, watching movies, playing squash, and fiddling with his PalmPilot.

These reviewers contributed their considerable hands-on expertise to the entire development process for XML and PHP. As the book was being written, these dedicated professionals reviewed all the material for technical content, organization, and flow. Their feedback was critical to ensure that XML and PHP fits our readers' need for the highest-quality technical information.

Zak Greant is lead developer for 51 Degrees North, and is the founder of the Foo & Associates programmer's cooperative. He leads the PHP Quality Assurance Team, and is an active contributor to the PHP documentation, mailing lists, and source code. (See for his PHP community profile.)

Mark Nenadov is a bright, young software developer living in Canada (he does not reside in an igloo or speak French, however). Mark specializes in Open Source technology, and has lots of experience with technologies such as PHP, XML, MySQL, and Python. He is currently employed at a growing e-commerce company in Windsor, Ontario. When he isn't hunched over his keyboard, he is usually trying to learn new things, playing ice hockey, writing, reading books, and wishing it were a bit warmer in Canada.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt ofin your philosophy."

~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Unless you've been doing a Rip Van Winkle for the past few years,you've heard about PHP and XML.

Probably not in the same context, I'll grant you--one is, after all,a programming language for the web, whereas the other is a standard toolkit fordescribing data. Individually, they're both long-time sweethearts of thenotoriously fickle web community--PHP for its rapid application developmentcapabilities and XML for its capability to make data more useful by attachingdescriptive tags to it.

Although there is no shortage of information on either of these twotechnologies individually, there are very few resources that explain how to usethem in combination with each other. Which was exactly the problem I had about ayear ago, when I decided to use XML as one of the components of a web-basedproject I was working on. PHP was my development language of choice. (I'dlong since given up on Perl and JSP.) Although I knew very little about how PHPand XML could be integrated with each other, I blithely assumed that the web,with its gargantuan knowledge bases, would have more than enough information tohelp me complete the project.

Imagine my horror, then, when I was able to find only the sketchiestinformation on the topic, despite hours spent tapping different permutations of"php xml development" into Google's search box. With time runningout, I decided to go to plan B: I printed a copy of the XML and XSL specs,stocked up on microwave dinners, and started experimenting with PHP'sbuilt-in XML functions.

I soon realized that combining PHP with XML wasn't hard at all--infact, it was pretty easy. Before long, I had worked out the basics of the SAXand DOM functions, installed my own copy of the XSLT extension, and figured outjust what I needed to do to deliver the project on time. All it took waspatience, a little research . . . and a lot of time.

In the highly competitive world of web development, in which contracts oftenturn on how quickly a project can be executed, time is a valuable commodity.Working with picky customers against aggressive deadlines is stressful enoughfor most developers; having to spend most of the day on research, rather thanimplementation, isn't likely to make their day any sunnier. And so, one ofmy most important reasons for writing this book was that it might serve as astarting point and reference for other developers looking to build XML- andPHP-enabled web applications.

This book is the book I wish I'd had a year ago. It includes detailedexplanations of PHP's XML extensions, together with illustrations of usingPHP to parse, validate, and transform XML markup. I've also discussed,among other things, how to traverse XML data trees, exchange data between webapplications, overlay remote procedure calls over HTTP, and use free open-sourcetools to add new capabilities to your XML/PHP applications. You can read it allthe way through, or use it in traditional cookbook style, flipping it open tothe chapter that addresses your specific problem. Either way, I hope you find ituseful, informative, and (dare I say it?) fun.

Over the past year, I've written a few articles on how XML and PHP canbe used together, and I've even given a couple of presentations on thetopic. From the feedback I've received, it seems that there are still many,many people--developers, consultants, educators, webmasters, systemsengineers, or just good ol' PHP enthusiasts--who would love to know howXML and PHP can be combined together, but don't know where to start.

If you're one of those people, this book is for you.

Book Description
XML and PHP is designed to introduce PHP developers to the synergies that become visible when their favorite web-scripting language is combined with one of the most talked about technologies of recent times, XML. XML and PHP teaches PHP developers how to use PHP's XML functions to develop and maintain XML-based web applications and sites, and it demonstrates the power inherent in the XML/PHP combination. This book provides information on all hte major XML technologies supported in PHP, demonstrating how the XML/PHP combination can be used to deliver cutting-edge web applications through practical examples and real-world case studies. XML and PHP serves as both an implementation guide to the topic and a handy desktop reference for quick lookups-combining all the information that developers need into a single, focused package.

Reader review(s):

A questionable book..., August 14, 2002
After all the flaky reviews this book has received, I was unsure if I was reading individual marketing campaigns sponsored by the various publishers or actual reviews. It seems that people cannot simply agree that this book is good or is bad as there is just nothing in between. Even in all the review cases, many people didn't find the reviews helpful, both positive and negative. It all seems complex from the consumer's perspective when deciding to buy this book.

So given all these statements, I thought I'd present a true review - one from an actual reader rather than from someone else. I think it's pretty safe to assume that this book is good for some people and bad for others. The problem is that the reviews already here have so much fluff that they didn't even begin to describe themselves, thus they could be ambitious or lazy, smart or dim, and hobbyist or entrepreneurs. There is simply no way of telling.

Personally, I think many of these concepts can be learned in PHP in about 2-3 days of trying the APIs out if you already know a great deal of XML. So if I'm going to buy a book on PHP and XML, I expect that it will provided added value information as well as design decisions, business concerns and best practices. Examples are not what I care about as much as the rich and deep information because there are many examples already on the web - no point acquiring the book just for those alone. That makes me question the reviewers who say the examples are clear and concise - the examples on the web already do that. Books are supposed to provide added value to these APIs and examples to make the topic complete and valuable to the reader. The book should also scale well to both beginning audiences (this book does very well) to expert audiences that want to drill through the basic information like APIs and examples and learn more advanced techniques, best practices, etc. This book doesn't deliver on these areas very well unfortunately.

So, for a person like me: This book receives 2 stars. I didn't learn all that much from it and I was disappointed to say the least. He's a good writer, funny at times, and knows what he is doing, but he also catered to a specific audience and it shows. Is that the goal? Probably. But I think the expert people shouldn't have expected too much (as I did) - that's the truth.

Although I personally give this book 2 stars, I believe that many beginner PHP programmers who have a little idea to what XML is will benefit from it. If you've already read some XML material on the net and even read a book or two, this book won't exactly help you out too much. However, this segment is rather small I would believe. I'm still looking for a book that I can give to my employees for reference as well as added value information. When I find it, I'll put a review there as well so you can compare.

So there you have it - an honest review. I hope it helps people out in their purchasing decisions.

0 stars. This book is crap, December 8, 2002
I decided to purchase both Wrox's Professional PHP4 XML and New Rider's XML and PHP. Now, I'm not a dumb guy. I've been programming for awhile, but I'm still learning all the time. I like to build object oriented code in PHP as I believe it's the best way to go for several tasks (although not all). I'm still learning how to apply design patterns and the like and I find that very interesting. So when I pick up a book, I really want to see an author care about objects rather than putting all his code in the toilet - That's what this book does.

Even further, the examples are so basic and the chapters don't explain anything beyond those examples either. I'm surprised people found this book useful since everything is obvious that those university computer science monkeys who are still learning Windows can figure this book out.

But where are the best practices? Where are the examples used within an object oriented architecture? Do you think we are idiot programmers who only know how to code procedural programs that all reside within a single server page. Get real.

On the other hand, I was very impressed with the Wrox book. Although some of the intro chapters were fairly useless (since they covered intro to PHP concepts and so forth), the chapters talking about SAX, DOM, XSLT and XML-RPC are much better and totally outshine this book's counterparts. They even discuss Object oriented programs in all most cases and will provide you both versions a lot of the time! Even further, the Wrox book shows you various examples about solving common problems. I actually think the authors showed me all the potential problems you can have for that matter; they were pretty detailed, especially in the SAX and XSLT chapters.

After reading some of the reviews about XML and PHP, such as "This book doesn't suck" or Manual Lemos's review (a guy who contributes a lot of PHP code to the community) stating "this book was the best on PHP and XML available", it's obvious that they have ties to the author and want to see him succeed. Don't let them pull you in - this book isn't even worth the sympathy.

Xi Chi's review was right on the bull's eye. I should have listened to it and so should you. Avoid this book like the plague and get Wrox's PHP4 XML book instead.

Lots Of Good Content, Examples, July 24, 2002
i have bought both the wrox book and this one and much prefer this one. while the wrox book is good, i find this one to be much easier to understand, and to use as a base for my own projects. i am building an XML-based transaction server, and the chapters on DOM, WDDX and SOAP were very useful, as i was able to use some of the code from the book in my project without any difficulty. also i appreciated the chapters on using open-source alternatives to the built-in functions (this is again not available in wrox, which also tended to be infuriatingly vague at certain points).

if you are a serious developer, i would recommend buying both books - i refer to both the wrox book and this one since neither one is exhaustive - but i learnt more from this one, as it is written in a clearer manner.

Absolutely Junk, July 15, 2002
After reading most of the book, I've concluded that this book is for amateurs. If you want to learn a little bit of XML, but nearly enough to do large projects, then maybe this book will be good for you. But once you need to do a large project or you need some actual advance over and beyond the syntax, concepts and APIs, the books won't help you; it's not even up to date in some areas. However the book is very easy to read, so I give it 1 star. However, there are better books that describe PHP and XML in much greater detail and in a way that is still very inviting to new comers. If you want to truely get the best knowledge for your buck, don't by this book. The Wrox book seems like a better choice so I'm going to pick that up next. I'm going to sell this book.

One of the best XML and PHP titles, July 30, 2002
Most XML books suffer from painful verbosity. Useful information on a relatively simple subject tends to be hidden in drifts of useless cruft.

This book focuses on the core information needed to become competent using XML and PHP together. While it is not the most comprehensive reference on XML available, it is the first resource that I check.

(Disclosure: I worked on this book project as a technical reviewer - take what I say with your own grain of salt. :)

Readable, clear, and useful, July 24, 2002
An extremely helpful introduction to several salient technologies for PHP developers.

It gives enough discussion into several XML/PHP technologies to allow you to a) understand what the technologies aims are b) how it can be used and c) if the technology is right for your application. It gives you enough of a boost into the technology so that you avoid wasting time developing with an irrelevant technology, and go straight to what is best for your own project.

The book can be skimmed very effectively by reading just the well commented and frequent source code listings, reverting to the adjacent paragraphs of text where more explanation is needed.

Okay, but look to Wrox's PHP Book, July 15, 2002
This book contains all the fundamental information you'd expect from a book detailing PHP and XML, however this book fails to cover anything extremely indepth. If you are looking for a more in-depth and technical resource as well as coverage of the latest standards, turn to the Professional PHP4 XML book published by Wrox. That one is much better even though it's a little more money.

Good XML code and application examples in PHP, April 27, 2004
Chapters two and three start the book with good examples of SAX and DOM use in PHP respectively. This provides a solid foundation for the rest of the book which shows examples of popular XML based technologies as applied to PHP. These include XSLT (Sablotron), XML-RPC, SOAP, XML in databases and other topics. Each of these discussions contains some real world examples to provide context.

It's a short and concise book that is well written. The use of graphics could be more effective. For example the screenshot in figure 6.8 is a single line in a vast sea of whtie browser space. The code sample could use some annotation or at the very least some bolding to hi-light the important segments.

The value of this book will depend on the degree to which you use XML in the PHP context. If you want a quick booster rocket to get you into SAX or DOM work within PHP this book will do the trick since it's far better than the documentation on the PHP site.

Covering every aspect of PHP and XML integration, January 22, 2003
Vikram Vaswani wrote a very focused book, covering every aspect of PHP and XML integration, with dedicated chapters on SAX and DOM parsers, XSL, WDDX, XML-RPC and SOAP. I think that PHP 4 is still lacking in the area of XML integration, but intermediate and advanced developers can still perform a lot of tasks using this combo. The book is clearly written; it covers a lot of different extensions and third party libraries with full code listings

Finally a good XML book for PHP developers, July 25, 2002
XML is technology that has been around for several years now. PHP has been capable of dealing with XML for different purposes. Oddly, before this book there was little or no books at all specifically about developing with XML in PHP.

After reading the book you can realize why there were not really many books filling this void. It is that it is not really easy to write a good PHP book on XML because you need to know so much about both things to write such a valuable book as this. Congratulations for Vikram for having done it first and so well.


While many publishers insist on hiding the information to access book the authors, certainly these forums are good example of how you can get further value from a book beyhond the hundreds of pages of printed paper that you paid for.

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