Zend Framework 1.8 Web Application Development review

Packt Publishing sent me a copy of Keith Pope’s Zend Framework 1.8 Web Application Development a while ago. In return they asked me to write what I thought about it. I have had it lying on my desk for a while but haven’t had time to read it more carefully. Nevertheless I have actually used it every now and then. Now, after reading a bit more the last few days, I can finally give my opinion on the book.

Programming books in general

I’d better start off with telling you that I haven’t read many “pure” programming books since the mid 1990′s when I was studying at the university. I tend to stick to books on concepts and methodologies and then read online tutorials and articles when it comes to programming. Programming books are rarely worth the money as they are either reference books which gets out of date quickly (I’ve thrown away quite a few Java books over the years…) or learning by example books which you painstakingly slowly must follow line by line to build something thousands open source projects alrady built.

My thought was that this book was probably both outdated (as ZF 1.9 has been around for awhile) and probably boring in that building a web shop isn’t that interesting. I was wrong in all ends.

The book

I especially like the way Pope introduce the MVC concept in Zend Framework. In the first chapter you get a good overview on configuration, the bootstrap process, controllers, action helpers, views and error handling. Chapter two goes deeper into the specifics of the request and routing. He also briefly delves into more advanced topics as plugins and component customization. The reader quickly gets a very good grasp on how to work with MVC applications in Zend Framework.

Another thing I like is how Pope reasons about various strategies; both pros and cons as well as how and how not to do things. Good examples are chapter four where Pope gives a good explanation on the Fat Model Skinny Controller strategy and chapter five with it’s best practices regarding accessing models from views with the help of view helpers. Reasoning and explanations like this is good, especially for unexperienced developers. This – and giving optimization and testing their own chapters – makes the book better. As Pope is thowing in both Zend Tool as well as Ant into the book makes it even better still.

Summary

To sum up my opinions the structure of the book makes it easy to read at leisure as well as using it as reference later. The MVC concept and how it is used in ZF is way better explained than in the ZF documentation. (Truth be told the documentation is hopeless here.) I’ve been working with ZF a “long” time now and whether the book is better for complete beginners or programmers at least a little bit familiar with Zend Framework I really can’t tell. Remembering how I struggled to find a good introduction to various topics found in the book I belive this book is a better introduction to Zend Framework than can be found in online tutorials and articles – or even the online documentation.

However, a beginner will get more out of this book than just learning Zend Framework. He, or she, will also learn about unit tests, build procedures and best practices.

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6 comments on “Zend Framework 1.8 Web Application Development review
  1. From your review it seems that Pope divulges the “right way” to go about doing things in Zend.

    Other than Zendcasts which I find to be a great resource for anyone learning the Zend Framework, I find this material of this quality very difficult to come by.

    Thanks for your review as it solidified my decision to buy this book. Keep up the good work!

  2. Great review. Thanks! I think I have to buy this book.

  3. Keith Pope says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the review, you can find extensions and updates to the sample code for the book on my google code project:

    Storefront Google Code

    My aim is to try and keep the storefront’s code as up to date as possible as well as blog all the parts I could not include in the book.

    Thx

    Keith

  4. This is really nice. In my view all developers should read this book if they are interested in Zend Framework. This is the best start they can get (for now). It will cover all MVC basics you need to get you app up and running, but you will need more than this book to get into all the components Zend Framework offers today.

    Regards…..

  5. this is awesome and OTS Solutions thinks that all developers should prefer this book…… this will gives the nice solutions to the developers….
    Thanks for sharing this.

  6. I could not agree more with you. This book is a must have for everyone starting with ZF. If i would know that this book is so good i would pay $20 more :)

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