10 Best PHP Books for Programmers of All Levels

By | November 26, 2021
Best PHP Books

PHP is a widely used server-side scripting language for developing dynamic websites and web applications. PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor, and earlier, it was referred to as Personal Home Pages.

It was one of the first server-side scripting languages used with HTML. PHP embedded into HTML eliminates the need for calling external files for data when developers need to add functionality to web pages.


This scripting language has come a long way since its establishment and has become one of the best and highly ranked programming languages for web development. Some effective content management systems, like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, use PHP.

PHP is the fifth most popular programming language in the world according to the PopularitY of Programming Language Index. This language, embedded within HTML, is used for developing server-side web applications.

Additionally, PHP allows us to:

  • Send and receive cookies.
  • Encrypt data.
  • Collect form data.
  • Create, open, read, write, delete, and close files on the server.
  • Control user-access.
  • Insert, delete, and modify data in a database.

In this article, we shall discuss why developers prefer PHP for web development. Moreover, we will highlight some elite books to learn the PHP language, intended for both beginners and experienced programmers.

Why Use PHP for Web Development?

Below are some salient benefits of using PHP for web development.

1. Easy to Grasp

PHP is easy to grasp, and hence, it has become a popular choice for developing web applications. Even a beginner can learn to create web pages with PHP in a short time.

2. Open-Source

Another primary reason for the widespread use of PHP is that it is open-source. You can download and install PHP at no cost. Moreover, you can also use various PHP web frameworks, like Symfony, Laravel, etc for free.

3. Versatile

PHP is compatible with all major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. In addition, it also supports some typical web servers, like Internet Information Service, Apache, Netscape, and many others. Therefore, PHP offers the flexibility to choose the operating system and web server of your choice.

4. Fast and Secure

Every organization aims to develop fast and secure applications. By using the PHP language, developers can build web applications that are highly secure.

Additionally, code developed using PHP is faster to run than the one developed using ASP because PHP uses its own memory space. On the other hand, ASP uses a COM-based architecture and an overhead server.

PHP has a large community and is extensively used across the globe. Therefore, you get many tools, effective practices, and frameworks to fix vulnerabilities in a code and protect it against malicious attacks.

5. Database Compatibility

One of the most commendable benefits of PHP is that it allows a secure connection with any database. Therefore, developers get an absolute privilege to choose the database of their choice that best fits with a web application under development.

Best PHP Books to Start With

Picking a good book for learning any new technology is a significant task. We have listed some of the best PHP books for freshers and professionals to learn PHP from scratch and improve their PHP skills.

1. PHP & MySQL – Novice to Ninja

PHP & MySQL Novice to Ninja covers all the fundamentals of PHP and MySQL. It is a 450-page book, having user-friendly and understandable content.

This book can help you learn the fundamental principles, techniques, and tools of PHP & MySQL so that you can develop fully-featured database-driven web applications.

Kevin Yank and Tom Butler are the authors of PHP & MySQL – Novice to Ninja. This book features several tutorials ranging from downloading and installing MySQL and PHP on major operating systems to developing responsive and interactive websites and web applications.

Additionally, you can also learn advanced topics of MySQL, like storing binary data and PHP’s sessions and cookies. This book involves some significant reference guides to MySQL and PHP, which include:

  • MySQL functions
  • PHP functions to work with MySQL
  • MySQL syntax
  • MySQL column types

With this book, you can learn how to publish MySQL data on the web. Also, you will get familiar with content formatting and content management systems.

PHP & MySQL – Novice to Ninja is available in Paperback format, and SitePoint is the publisher of this book.

You can buy this book from here.

2. PHP: A Beginner’s Guide

As its name suggests, PHP: A Beginner’s Guide is a perfect choice for aspirants wishing to acquire PHP skills for creating dynamic web applications. It is a 478-page long book that can help you learn how to write PHP programs.

In addition, this book will come in handy for you to build expertise in developing PHP programs using advanced PHP features, like XML input, MYSQL database integration, etc.

Vikram Vaswani is the author of PHP: A Beginner’s Guide. This book is a definitive guide for intermediate-level PHP developers, as it covers mid-level PHP concepts, such as data structures, software installation, flow control routines, and syntax.

The author has penned many exciting sections in this book, like the Q&A section. Moreover, it offers various hands-on exercises, notes or extra information, best tips or alternative approaches to coding, flaws to avoid, and example codes to ensure effective learning.

McGraw-Hill Education is the publisher of PHP: A Beginner’s Guide. You can buy this book in a Paperback format.

You can buy this book from here.

3. Murach’s PHP and MySQL

Another best and highly recommended book for beginners and professionals learning PHP is Murach’s PHP and SQL. It is an 872-page book that follows a self-paced approach, allowing beginners and skilled developers to build web applications using MySQL and PHP.

Joel Murach and Ray Harris have divided this book into four sections. The first section talks about using the latest versions of MySQL, PHP, NetBeans IDE, and the Apache webserver. In the next section, you will get familiar with the advanced concepts of PHP, such as data types, sessions, arrays, objects, functions, exceptions, and regular expressions.

The third section takes you through the introduction to designing and creating a database. In addition, you will also learn how to access and maintain data in a database.

Finally, the last section discusses various web programming expertise, like accessing content from other websites, protecting an application against XSS attacks, processing images, sending emails, securing web pages, and preventing SQL injection attacks.

Additionally, you will get exercises after every chapter and sample applications that use CSS3 and HTML5. Mike Murach & Associates Inc. is the publisher of this book, and it is available in Paperback format.

You can buy this book from here.

4. Programming PHP: Creating Dynamic Web Pages

This book can help you develop PHP skills from scratch. Also, you can learn advanced PHP concepts to develop responsive and interactive web pages. This book has more than 550 pages, covering interesting PHP topics, like performance tuning, error handling, and many others.

The authors of the ‘Programming PHP: Creating Dynamic Web Pages’ book are Maclntyre, Kevin Tatroe, and Rasmus Lerdorf. They have penned down best practices to follow so that you can write efficient PHP code and become a top-notch programmer.

The initial pages introduce you thoroughly to PHP programs and then take you deeper into the PHP concepts, like strings, objects, functions, and arrays.

In addition, it makes you aware of web application techniques, like data validation, cookies, form processing, and session tracking. This book will help you learn how to generate dynamic PDF files, create images, and parse XML files.

Through this book, you can also learn about the interaction of the PHP language with relational databases. O’Reilly is the publisher of this book, and it is available in only the Paperback format.

You can buy this book from here.

5. PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual

PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual is a definitive guide for those aiming to hone their web development skills using PHP and MySQL. Also, it is among the best books to learn PHP effectively.

It is a 546-page long book that can help you become aware of new approaches for developing database-driven websites using MySQL and PHP.

Brett McLaughlin is the author of PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual. It helps you know how to build a database, manage content, and interact with users. The author has penned various topics of all levels, ranging from entry-level to advanced-level, in this book using a step-by-step approach.

Moreover, this book provides you with a clear idea about how to connect PHP with MySQL. This book by Brett McLaughlin can help you understand the working of a database.

This book talks about various concepts, like:

  • Installing MySQL and PHP and running them on a remote server and the desktop.
  • Connecting PHP to MySQL Database.
  • Accessing user data, like images and binary files, using the file system.
  • Creating dynamic pages.
  • Storing user information and different data by using MySQL.
  • Developing an administrative interface to oversee a website.

O’Reilly is the publisher of this book, and you can buy it in Kindle and Paperback formats.

You can buy this book from here.

6. The Joy of Programming: A Beginner’s Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and MySQL

As its name indicates, this book is ideal for beginners wishing to step into the world of web development. It helps you to learn everything about PHP from the ground.

Alan Forbes is the author of this book. In this book, he explains how to write and run simple PHP programs. As you move forward and learn all fundamental concepts, this book teaches you how to modify web pages.

In addition, this book will help you learn how to use PHP and MySQL concepts with a real-time website development example. The website that you will be building while learning this book is for a car dealership business.

The author has penned down all the essential concepts of PHP and MySQL. Major topics included in this book are basic PHP syntax, installation and configuration of PHP, introduction to HTML, control structures, variables, numbers, dates, strings, integrating PHP and MySQL, session variables, etc.

Plum Island is the publisher of this book, and it is available in Kindle and Paperback formats.

You can buy this book from here.

7. Head First PHP & MySQL

Head First PHP & MySQL is one of the foremost PHP books for beginners. It is an 812-page book that helps you learn how to build database-driven websites and web applications. In addition, this book makes the learning process more effective by offering real-world examples.

Michael Morrison and Lynn Beighley are authors of Head First PHP & MySQL. After going through this book, you can learn all the essential concepts of PHP and MySQL. It covers a wide variety of topics, such as session IDs, cookies, I/O operations, validation, database joins and queries, and content management.

Head First PHP & MySQL book guides you to work on various projects, like an online dating site, a mailing list, and a job board, thus helping you learn the usage of PHP and MySQL to build a variety of applications.

Additionally, the authors have added a wide range of exercises, quizzes, and puzzles to make your learning experience more exciting.

O’Reilly is the publisher of Head First PHP & MySQL. This book is available in Paperback format.

You can buy this book from here.

8. PHP in Action: Objects, Design, Agility

This is one of the chart-topping PHP books that can help developers advance their expertise in PHP programming. Being released in 2007, it has assisted various PHP developers in creating dynamic and effective websites and web applications.

Marcus Baker, Daginn Reiersol, and Chris Shiflett are the authors of PHP in Action: Objects, Design, Agility. The best part of this book is that it highlights some efficient applications of PHP principles and techniques for resolving typical issues occurring in web development, such as

  • Web presentation.
  • Form handling and input validation.
  • Object persistence.
  • Database connections.
  • User interaction.
  • Querying and abstraction.

In addition, the authors have mentioned some Java references while discussing PHP topics. This will help you develop a basic understanding of Java as well.

The book is available in PDF, ePub, and Kindle formats. Manning Publications is the publisher of this book.

You can buy this book from here.

9. Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, & CSS: A Step by Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Web Pages

It is one of the best PHP books that help you to learn core programming technologies, including PHP, MySQL, CSS, and JavaScript, and create responsive and database-driven websites.

You will learn how to combine the aforementioned technologies and pick the best programming approach to develop dynamic websites.

Robin Nixon is the author of this comprehensive PHP book, and he has added questions at the end of each chapter of this book to help you test your knowledge.

This book can help you learn:

  • In-depth PHP and object-oriented programming concepts.
  • Introduction to MySQL, starting from a simple database structure through more complex queries.
  • Managing cookies and sessions to ensure the security of applications.
  • Create interactive web pages using the JavaScript programming language.
  • Style web pages using CSS2 and CSS3.
  • Use all cutting-edge HTML5 functionalities, like video, audio, geolocation, and canvas.

This book is available in the Paperback format and is published by O’Reilly.

You can buy this book from here.

10. PHP and MySQL Web Development

PHP and MySQL Web Development is a 1008-page long book that explains various concepts of PHP and MySQL. It introduces you to the fundamentals of PHP, the process of setting up a MySQL database, and the interaction between MySQL and PHP.

The authors of this book are Laura Thomson and Luke Welling. They have divided the contents of the book into five parts. The first part discusses the basics of PHP, while the second part is about the fundamentals of MySQL. Next, the third section introduces you to web application security, and the fourth part helps you boost your PHP knowledge by discussing advanced PHP concepts.

Finally, the last section is the most important one, as it assists you in building real-world MySQL and PHP projects.

You can purchase this book in Paperback format and Addison Wesley is its publisher.

You can buy this book from here.


With the increasing demand for highly responsive websites and web applications, the requirement of PHP developers has also increased significantly in the job market.

In this article, we have listed the most popular PHP books that can help you learn PHP effectively. Some books are ideal for beginners, whereas others are suitable for both beginners and professional developers.

If you are planning to learn PHP programming so that you can create responsive websites and web applications, these books are likely to come in handy. So, choose a book that seems best to you and start your journey to becoming a professional PHP developer. Good luck!

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Author: Sameeksha Medewar

Sameeksha is a freelance content writer for more than half and a year. She has a hunger to explore and learn new things. She possesses a bachelor's degree in Computer Science.

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