10 Best PHP Books for Programmers of All Levels

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10 Best PHP Books for Programmers of All Levels

Swapnil Banga
Last updated on July 20, 2024

    In this article, we shall discuss why developers prefer PHP for web development. Moreover, we will highlight some best books to learn the PHP language, intended for both beginners and experienced programmers. 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 inception and has become one of the best and most highly ranked programming languages for web development. Popular 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.

    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 understand, 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 and Laravel, for free.

    3. Versatile

    PHP is compatible with all major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. 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 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 a web application under development.

    Best PHP Books for Beginners

    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

    Author: Kevin Yank and Tom Butler

    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 and MySQL so that you can develop fully-featured database-driven web applications.

    It also includes 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 PHP 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.

    About the Author

    Kevin Yank is a well-known leader in the web development field. Also, he is the technical director of sitepoint.com and editor of the SitePoint Tech Times newsletter. Tom Butler is a web developer and a part-time university lecturer.

    Publisher: SitePoint
    Paperback Print Length: 680 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    2. PHP: A Beginner’s Guide


    Author: Vikram Vaswani

    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 and MYSQL database integration.

    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. You can buy this book in a Paperback format.

    About the Author

    Vikram Vaswani is the founder and CEO of Melonfire. He is also the author of many PHP and MySQL books and popular articles on Perl, Python, and XML.

    Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education
    Paperback Print Length: 478 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    3. Murach’s PHP and MySQL

    Murach's PHP and MYSQL- Training & Reference (Murach's PHP and MySQL (3rd Edition))

    Author: Joel Murach and Ray Harris

    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. The authors 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 tasks, 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. This book is available in Paperback format only.

    About the Author

    Joel Murach has over 20 years of experience writing and editing computer programming books. He has written masterpieces on Java, .NET, the web, and database technologies. Besides this, he is also a talented musician.

    Ray Harris is a lecturer, author, artist, philosopher, and inventor. Additionally, he started programming at the age of 12 and teaching computer science to his friends when he was in the 8th standard.

    Publisher: Mike Murach & Associates Inc.
    Paperback Print Length: 866 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    4. Programming PHP: Creating Dynamic Web Pages

    Programming PHP- Creating Dynamic Web Pages, Third Edition

    Author: Peter Maclntyre, Kevin Tatroe, and Rasmus Lerdorf

    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 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 . This book is available only in Paperback format.

    About the Author

    Peter Maclntyre has over 16 years of experience in software development. He is certified by ZEND Corporation on PHP 4.x. Currently, he is a contributing editor and author to a magazine, php|architect.

    Kevin Tatroe is an experienced PHP developer. In addition, he has more than 10 years of experience as a UNIX and Macintosh programmer.

    Rasmus Lerdorf has been actively involved in PHP development since 1995. Also, he is an Apache contributor and foundation member.

    Publisher: O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 580 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    5. PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual

    PHP & MySQL- The Missing Manual, 2e

    Author: Brett McLaughlin

    The next name on our list of the best PHP books is PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual. It 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 can help you become aware of new approaches for developing database-driven websites using MySQL and PHP. In addition, this book 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 PHP 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, including:

    • Installing MySQL and PHP and running them on a remote server and the desktop.
    • Connecting PHP to MySQL database.
    • Access 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.

    You can buy this book in Kindle and Paperback formats.

    About the Author

    Brett McLaughlin is CTO for Volusion. Also, he is an active instructor in AWS and serverless communities.

    Publisher: O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 546 pages

    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

    The Joy of PHP- A Beginner's Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications With PHP and mySQL

    Author: Alan Forbes

    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. In this book, the author 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, and session variables. This book is available in Kindle and Paperback formats.

    About the Author

    Alan Forbes is an inventor and architect of PowerScripts. He also creates a variety of text-based systems. He holds a BS/BA from Bryant University and MBA from Babson College.

    P ublisher: Plum Island
    Paperback Print Length: 182 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    7. Head First PHP & MySQL

    Head First PHP & MySQL- A Brain-Friendly Guide

    Author: Michael Morrison and Lynn Beighley

    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.

    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. This book is available in Paperback format only.

    About the Author

    Lynn Beighley is a fiction writer. She holds a master's in computer science. Moreover, she has worked for Yahoo! for many years. Michael Morrison is a developer, writer, and toy inventor. He has written a variety of books on game development, Java, web scripting, and mobile devices.

    Publisher: O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 828 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    8. PHP in Action: Objects, Design, Agility

    PHP in Action- Objects, Design, Agility

    Author: Dagfinn Reiersol, Marcus Baker, and Chris Shiflett

    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. The best part of this PHP 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.

    About the Author

    Marcus Baker is an American author.

    Dagfinn Reiersol is a technical writer of many software manuals. Also, he has been in the software development industry since 1997.

    Chris Shiflett is the founding member of Analog, a web designer, and a development co-operative. He has written multiple books and articles on PHP.

    Publisher: Manning Publications
    Paperback Print Length: 552 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

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

    Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript- A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Websites

    Author: Robin Nixon

    The number 9 spot on our list of the best PHP books goes to Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, & CSS . 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 has also 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 only in Paperback format.

    About the Author

    Robin Nixon is a software developer and author. He has written over 30 best-selling books on JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL.

    Publisher: O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 825 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    10. PHP and MySQL Web Development

    PHP and MySQL Web Development

    Author: Laura Thomson and Luke Welling

    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 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 only.

    About the Author

    Laura Thomson is a director of engineering at Mozilla Corporation. Formerly, she was a principal at OmniTI and Tangled Web Design. She holds a bachelor's degree in Applied Science and a bachelor's degree in Computer Systems Engineering.

    Luke Welling is a software engineer. Also, Luke is a frequent conference speaker who speaks on web development topics. He holds a bachelor's degree in Applied Science.

    Publisher: Addison Wesley
    Paperback Print Length: 688 pages

    You can buy this book from here .


    With the increasing demand for highly responsive websites and web applications, the requirement for 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 of becoming a professional PHP developer.

    Good luck!

    People are also reading:


    The best PHP books for beginners are: 1. PHP: A Beginner’s Guide 2. Head First PHP & MySQL 3. The Joy of Programming: A Beginner’s Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and MySQL 4. PHP & MySQL - Novice to Ninja.

    Yes, PHP is easy to learn because of its simple syntax. Even beginners can learn it quickly.

    Yes, obviously, it is worth learning PHP though there are many other server-side programming languages, including JavaScript, Python, and Ruby. The reason is that PHP still powers 45% of websites available on the internet today.

    MySQL is the foremost choice of PHP developers. Being a relational database management system, MySQL leverages SQL to perform queries on data. Also, it assists in automating data retrieving in PHP MySQL web applications.

    Yes, you can learn PHP and MySQL together as there are a lot of books available that help you learn PHP and MySQL.

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