Book Review: PHP Team Development

I was recently contacted by Packt Publishing asking if I would review a copy of one of their new titles – PHP Team Development. I happily agreed and the book promptly arrived in the post (just in time for me to take it on holiday and read it by the pool!).

Overall I was quite disappointed by the book – although at least half of that was due to the poor written English contained there. Some sentences didn’t even make sense, I’m not accustomed to reading anything other than clear English (“Vendor Locking” confused me for a while), and the language in this publication made reading the whole thing rather slow going. That said, for a brand new team of PHP developers with no previous experience of working in a team, there were some useful points in this book. Its clear that the author’s experience lies in a large organisation building a single product, whereas I’d say the level of this book would apply well to web development shops with a handful of developers probably working on a series of different projects for clients.

There are some solid concepts introduced – few are explained in detail though and after a couple of chapters I think a less experienced developer would have had a list of terms to look up rather than new ideas to try! Still, there are good explanations of source control, MVC, templating, and OOP elsewhere on the web and in other books so it would be possible for someone to follow up on this. I was particularly alarmed at the concept where one team writes the model, another writes the view and yet another writes the controller to tie them all together. Perhaps in big enough development teams, with a lot of up-front specifications written, this can work. My on-the-ground experience though would lead me to group tasks together by feature rather than separate them by bits of implementation – I currently work in an organisation that uses agile projects though where features are the whole point of the exercise, so perhaps that influences me.

On the whole, a perfectly nice book for beginners (available from the publishers or from Amazon)
but if you are already working in a team then you probably won’t get a lot from this experience.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: PHP Team Development

  1. It’s a shame the book didn’t hold up well for you. The transition from working as a hired gun to working as a team member is one that frustrates nearly all php developers at some point. Teamwork is definitely the path of the future, and the skills required can benefit solo developers almost as much as they do teams. I hope more php speakers and authors turn their attention to this challenge.

  2. MonkeyT: I couldn’t agree more. Since moving to Ibuildings I’ve seen what teams can do – but I was disappointed that this book didn’t put across as much useful material as I know it could have. I’m seeing talks and articles from PHP community leaders about teams, perhaps one of those people can write a book next.

  3. Thanks for the detailed review. I was considering buying it as I need a book on the topic, but I don’t think I will now sadly. O well, must keep searching. Any suggestions?

  4. Helen – it depends what you were interested in, if you are looking to raise your PHP development game in general then you could try “Enterprise PHP Development” by Ivo Jansch (disclaimer: I work for Ivo and edited the book!), which covers lots of development-related areas.

    • Thanks, I decided the other day to order the Enterprise PHP Dev book you suggested, and am reading it now.

      I’ve mostly been bringing to work ideas based on internet research, so it’ll be nice seeing a CTO’s perspective.

  5. Hi Lorna. A bit late here, but anyway.

    I just faced the book and I was about to hit the BUY button when I reached your review.
    I’m currently working on a small team that (sadly) doesn’t works as a team, so I wanted to get some insights and advises to try to get us on track.
    Also I’m trying to evolve from developer to “team leader” / “project coordinator – manager” / whatever we name it, you get it, so I was looking for some reading on that focus.
    Haven’t checked out yet “Enterprise PHP Development”; do you think it would cover what I’m looking for?
    If you’d like to recommend any other book it’ll be highly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hmm, good question. I think Enterprise PHP Development is still relevant if you’re looking for something PHP-specific – some tools have moved on but for the most part I’d give the same advice today that Ivo gave then. As a technology-agnostic text, I enjoyed “Making it Big in Software” from Prentice Hall, it had some good stories.

      Good luck!

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