Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The PHP Manual

To start me off in the world of programming in PHP, I had to get as many e-books as possible. In addition to the e-books, I had to get a manual from the language's developer's site. This is one resource that every PHP developer should have. Well, even most authors of the e-books on PHP use the manual as a reference for their work. So there it is!
I am now spending more time reading through the manual than even on the e-books while I try to understand Barblefork's legacy code. Why? The terseness of the manual's writing simply makes one to easily understand every little PHP feature. Except one particular little reference e-book, all the other e-books are more verbose: how would I get the $needle in such a $haystack?
Now let us dig into the PHP manual. You can download the manual in two formats:
  1. Either as one huge XHTML file. This one can really slow down your browser. And the process of file association can really take time (a minute or so). The download format is in html.gz.
  2. Or as chunked XHTML. File extension for the download is tar.gz. Unzipping this file will create a folder with numerous smaller HTML files. But (here is the good thing) you only need to open any file and then follow the links in the document.

Navigating The Chunked XHTML Manual

With the chunked manual, you only need to unzip the tarball, open up the folder which has been created, then choose whatever file you would like to view. Every little HTML file covers a particular area of PHP from functions used in PDF generation, functions for sessions, Apache etc. You can easily surf through the manual by clicking the links on the open document. You can even click right back to the start of the manual.
If you would like to read a particular area say "Arrays", just search for the file with the name "book" appended to the name. For example, for arrays, search for "book.array". That way you can get an entire snapshot of the feature from the introduction, installation, requirements to the functions related to that feature.
P.S: Oops, this article just reveals my biases. See ya!


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