Occasionally I am asked to review a software development book and I am always happy to do so, as I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like. Today’s book is a subject I am very well versed in, Zend Framework. “Zend Framework 2.0 by Example: Beginner’s Guide” by Krishna Shasankar V is a newer book available from the fine folks over at Packt Publishing. This is the first book I have read that covers the 2.0 branch of the Zend Framework. As some of you might remember I started using Zend over 5 years ago on a huge SaaS based platform, and I have kept up with the development of this MVC framework ever since.
This book is exactly what it claims to be, a beginners guide. The author takes the time to help you setup a working environment using the Zend Server Community Edition packages, unfortunately the examples on how to install are all in Linux so any Mac or Windows users will need to refer to the Zend site on any questions they may have on how to install, not a big deal. One of the first things I noticed that is a slight negative is that the author has you install the PHP 5.3 version, and PHP 5.3 is now deprecated, that might be something to add to an addendum chapter. While ZF2 supports PHP 5.3, I’d prefer beginners to use a supported version regardless.
If you peruse the table of contents, you will see that the book covers a wide range of concepts, including: HTML5, mobile, Lucene Search (a personal favorite), etc. The framework is huge, and if you ever expect a book to include every topic, you are dreaming, and this list seems like a good assortment of goodies for the beginner. The main goal of any beginner book is to give you the tools necessary to learn on your own after you complete the examples. This book also sprinkles a bunch of quizzes to demonstrate your understanding of the materials.
Two of the aspects of the book that are exciting ones for me are the Zend\Form and Zend\Lucene chapters. The form chapter does a good job covering the basics of creating forms in the framework including validation, model interaction, and an example integration with Zend\Authentication. It is always nice to see two different topics being covered by one example, it lets you put it all together, so that is a great plus for a beginner here. Lucene on the other hand is a very complex topic and a chapter in a beginners book was surprising to me, because it is rather advanced. This book does a good job of breaking it apart in terms of how to add data, index, and search. There is even sample code for indexing MS Office documents contents which is something I have personally had to deal with in the past, kudos right there.
So, while this book is a beginners book, it does cover a wide range of interesting topics. It’s delivery is still for basic knowledge, so if you are looking for something more than a cookbook type approach, I’d stick with other more advanced books. But still very impressed by the topics covered.