ramblings on PHP, SQL, the web, politics, ultimate frisbee and what else is on in my life

Mashup book review

Duane from Pakt asked me if I would be interested in reviewing a few books for them in my blog. I picked "Mashup Projects" from the list of just released books, since I am interesting in the topic and I am actually going to give a presentation at the internal "PHP Day" we are doing at Optaros in November. The short summary is that the examples are very well chosen (while a bit light on the Javascript side), the writing style is very good, the examples are riddled with minor to major oversights and formatting errors. I will send a long list of the errors I found to Pakt, so be sure to keep the errata handy once one is released while looking through the code examples.

Some more details on the book. Its focus on PHP mashups, so most of the examples, except the last one, basically rely on server side scripting for the mashup. The last example does feature a fair bit of Javascript, but not enough to really dive into the nasty issues you are bound to hit there (like not being able to load Google maps after the initial page load or that its generally quite hard to load code/css on demand). Then again this is beyond the scope of the book. Speaking of scope the book is nice and compact in size, which makes it a good read on the bus or train.

The book covers the key web service approaches, SAX vs. DOM XML parsing, various Google, Yahoo, Amazon and several other API's. It also gives an example of screen scraping a web page that was not originally intended to allow mashups. Speaking of which the author makes it a case to remind people of potential legal responsibilities when creating mashups. I also really liked the section on SPARQL, which is an RDF query language, though I am not sure if a book on mashups really needed such a detailed explanation of RDF (maybe RSS would have been enough).

Anyways like I already said in the paragraph, I think this is a good book that is really hurt by the lack of proper editing in the examples. I found most of the typo's easy to spot for an experienced developer though. But its just annoying if the code in the book is broken here and there, even if its just double quotes that are malformed.

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