When the authors first asked me if I’d be interested in writing a foreword for the third edition of this book, I eagerly said yes—what an honor. I went back and read the foreword from the previous edition, and I got overwhelmed. I started to question why they would ask me to write this in the first place. I am not an author; I have no amazing story. I’m just a regular guy who knows and loves PHP! You probably already know how widespread PHP is in applications like Facebook, Wikipedia, Drupal, and Wordpress. What could I add?
All I can say is that I was just like you not too long ago. I was reading this book to try and understand PHP programming for the first time. I got into it so much that I joined Boston PHP (the largest PHP user group in North America) and have been serving as lead organizer for the past four years. I have met all kinds of amazing PHP developers, and the majority of them are self-taught. Chances are that you, like most PHP people I know (including myself), came into the language quite by accident. You want to use it to build something new.
Our user group once held an event where we invited everyone in the community to come and demonstrate a cool new way to use PHP. A realtor showed us how to create a successful business with an online virtual reality application that lets you explore real estate in your area with beautiful views of properties. An educational toy designer showed us his clever website to market his unique educational games. A musician used PHP to create music notation learning tools for a well-known music college. Yet another person demoed an application he built to assist cancer research at a nearby medical institution.
As you can see, PHP is accessible and you can do almost anything with it. It’s being used by people with different backgrounds, skill sets, and goals. You don’t need a degree in computer science to create something important and relevant in this day and age. You need books like this one, communities to help you along, a bit of dedication, and some elbow grease, and you’re on your way to creating a brand-new tool.
Learning PHP is easy and fun. The authors have done a great job of covering basic information to get you started and then taking you right through to some of the more advanced topics, such as object-oriented programming. So dig in, and practice what you read in this book. You should also look for PHP communities, or user groups, in your area to help you along and to get “plugged in.” There are also many PHP conferences going on in other parts of the world, as this list shows. Boston PHP, along with two other user groups, hosts a PHP conference each year in August. Come and meet some excellent folks (both Peter MacIntyre, one of the co-authors, and I will be there) and get to know them; you’ll be a better PHPer because of it.