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Best Books to Learn PHP Programming

Moiz Khan Mar 03, 2017

Learning PHP is usually the first step in programming for the web. Its importance needs no explanation but just to let you know, the world’s top websites like Facebook, Google, Wikipedia and YouTube runs PHP script on their backends. It is undoubtedly the most popular programming language and whoever plans on jumping into the world of programming must learn it.

If you are starting to learn PHP, there is an ocean of learning materials but we can help save your time by finding the right material for you. We have selected some of the best PHP coding books that will transform you into a skilled professional from a complete novice in no time.

Before listing the top PHP books for learning, here’s a little orientation of PHP itself.

What is PHP?

Introduced by Rasmus Lerdorf, it stands for Hypertext Pre-processor.

It is an open source, server-side scripting language which is easy to learn and can run on different operating systems such as Windows, LINUX, UNIX, and more. PHP can create static as well as dynamic websites and web applications. It not only connects the form data but also creates, reads, writes, closes, and deletes files on the server.

PHP Programming Books

Learning PHP programming or developing PHP applications is not difficult. There are plenty of tutorials and detailed courses that can provide you a lot of useful insight on PHP. Also, there several print books that you can purchase to learn about the programming language.

Here are the few best books that will broaden your knowledge of PHP programming.

Programming PHP: Creating Dynamic Web Pages


Author: Rasmus Lerdorf

Programming PHP is an excellent resource for beginners. It works quite well for them as it covers all the concepts rather than minute details which helps build up a strong foundation. It is a 540-page-long book especially recommended for people who are new to backend coding. The first chapter of the book covers all the basics of server-side code. This introductory book comes handy to pockets and a great investment if you want a detailed introduction of the PHP language

Modern PHP


Author:  Josh Lockhart

If you are looking for a detailed beginner book, unlike the typical ones, Modern PHP is the right one for you. It covers everything with great details whether they are namespaces, objects, classes, or security concerns. If you know how to Google your questions correctly, then Modern PHP is looking to up your game right away. It is a definite yes for beginners. Besides, the intermediate-level coders can also make the most of it because there are many topics in the book that go deeper than the level of beginners.

If you want to build a custom SaaS app or just editing a WordPress framework, this book is the right pick for you as it will help you learn whatever you need and give you the in-depth information of everything you need to learn.

Learning PHP 7


Author: Antonio Lopez

PHP 7 is the latest version of PHP language which is all set to improve speed and performance on all servers. PHP 7 is only about restructuring with the backend and how objects, classes and memories are handled and does not have any major changes code-wise.

With this book, you can dive into the world of PHP 7 and can get a grip over all the concepts and coding techniques. Not to forget, it is a beginner’s book and shouldn’t be a choice of semi-experienced coders.  There are exercises given which are simple to follow.  Learning PHP 7 will make learning fun for the programmers.

The Joy of PHP Programming: A Beginner’s Guide

Author: Alan Forbes


For a lighter introduction of PHP, Joy of PHP Programming is the apt choice. As the name best describes it, the book is for absolute beginners to catch up quickly. Alan Forbes’ book has a very practical stance for learning PHP. It starts with some basic HTML and goes step-by-step as to how PHP actually works with a series of close-knit and fun-filled exercises.

The book provides great information on PHP and MYSQL. After completing the book, one can read, write and modify PHP scripts and can make one’s own dynamic websites.

PHP & MYSQL Novice to Ninja

Author: Kevin Yank


This book will give a solid ground on both PHP and MYSQL in the most convenient and readable manner. In this book, you can learn and explore some important and useful PHP elements such as regular expression/session management.  It is highly recommended for beginners. Moreover, PHP & MYSQL contains an excellent chapter on structured programming.

This book is really good for beginners because it’s well-written, engaging and covers the basics of PHP and MYSQL.

Head First PHP & MYSQL

Author: Lynn Beighley & Michael Morrison


Head First PHP & MYSQL is the ultimate learning guide to building dynamic and database-driven websites. It is an 800-page-long book and contains wide-ranging topics, basic and advanced, on PHP and MYSQL coding such as form validation, cookies, database queries, file I/O operation, content management, and more. It is undoubtedly one of the best books for beginners.

Learning PHP, MYSQL, JavaScript, CSS & HTML5

Author: Robin Nixon


This book is the second edition of the top-selling guide to the web development. This latest edition is easier to follow and has a large amount of information.

You can practice whatever you learn from this book with the review questions given at the end of each chapter. The book also describes a sample social networking platform built with the help of elements introduced in the book.

PHP and MYSQL Web Development

Author: Luke Welling & Laura Thompson


The book is a complete guide as to how to make use of the PHP tools to create interactive and effective web applications. Every chapter in the book explains PHP from the beginning to the end and instantly moves over to MySQL. It explains the basics of the PHP language and how to set up MYSQL database. It also tells how PHP interacts with the database.
The book also contains excellent examples that demonstrate common PHP tasks. This book is, simply put, a crash course of PHP.

The PHP & MYSQL: The Missing Manual

Author: Brett McLaughlin


This book will take you to the next level in PHP programming. Reading this book will help you learn the management of content, creation of the database and interaction with users.
The book’s step-by-step tutorials will broaden your knowledge on server-side programming

PHP: A Beginner’s Guide

Author: Vikram Vaswani


PHP: A Beginner’s Guide will help you understand how to write basic PHP programs with more advanced features such as MYSQL database integration, XML input, and third-party extensions.

Although it works well for beginners, I personally think it is also appropriate for intermediate-level learners because it covers sufficient information on software installations, language syntax, flow control routines, data structures, and built-in functions.

Never Quit Learning

Anyone who is unknown to the world of PHP Programming can get started from any of the aforementioned books. They are for beginners who want to develop PHP websites and applications and excel into the world of PHP programming.

Read Here 20 Best Websites for Learning PHP Programming