RESTful PHP Web Services – Book Review

PHP is one of the famous choice, when it comes to develop a web site. As the web evolve with the emerge of web service, REST (REpresentational State Transfer) concepts, the PHP language is also adapted to the new requirements specially with the availability of new SOA (Service Oriented Architecture), REST frameworks and libraries. Anyway there were hardly any guides, references or samples that properly describe the methodologies of developing REST applications using PHP.

The book “RESTful PHP Web Services‘ by Samisa Abeysinghe certainly fill this gap. It can be used as a step by step guideline for newbies to learn the concepts and write simple RESTful PHP applications and Mashups. And even experienced developers would find this a great reference to keep nearby while working with RESTful Web Services in PHP. And it has lot of code samples, utility functions that developers can use it in their applications.

RESTful PHP Web Services - Samisa Abeysinghe

About the Author

Samisa Abeysinghe is a well recognized name in the web services world. He lead the development of Apache Axis2/C and WSO2 WSF/PHP, two famous open source web service frameworks for ‘C’ and PHP. In addition to his deep knowledge in the subject, his experience in involving with the community and the enterprise for years and working as a lecturer in universities, should have influenced a lot in writing this book.

The Arrangement and the Content

The arrangement of the book is done really well to make sure the reader can go through it in the right sequence. All the content is bundled just within 200 pages. So you don’t need to allocate a lot of time to go through the whole book. It is organized into 7 chapters and two appendixes which are mostly independent from each other.

The first chapter is completely devoted to explain the concepts of RESTful web services. It basically explains what is RESTful web service and why it is needed. And it briefly mentions about the currently available REST Frameworks for PHP.

The second chapter introduce some PHP codes that do REST web service requests and handles the XML responses using both DOM and SimpleXML APIs. And in the third chapter it shows more code samples specially about consuming real world web services like BBC, Yahoo and an earthquakes information service. Theses codes are written as mashups mostly combining two services to produce more meaningful information.

The forth chapter is about  designing and writing web service providers. Its counterpart, writing web service consumers is described in the chapter five. There it demonstrate a library system that operate using RESTful webservices. You can map this example to any system that you may like to develop to run with RESTful web services. The chapter five of the book is available as a free download, RESTful PHP Web Services – Chapter 5.

The forth and fifth chapters are not using any framework to write the sample codes on consuming and providing web services. But in the sixth chapter it shows the use of Zend framework to do write them. There it rewrites the same example (The RESTful library system) in MVC (Model -View – Controller) approach using the functionalities of Zend framework. (In fact the View in the service is omitted).

The seventh chapter is about debugging web services. Debugging is a much needed step in any software development cycle. So if you are a newbie, you should read this chapter before start writing any of your own code. This introduces tools and methodologies to make your debugging easy and effective.

The book contains two appendixes. They are too really useful as the chapters of the book. In the first appendix it explains another REST web service framework, WSO2 Web Services Framework for PHP (WSF/PHP). To demonstrate it uses, some selected functionalities of the example library system (that is mentioned in chapters 4, 5, 6) is re-implemented using WSF/PHP. And it shows you how you can convert this RESTful system to a SOAP system in a minute. The second appendix provides you a code of a class (RESTClient), that you can use in consuming web services very effectively.

Recommended Readers

This book assume you have some knowledge in PHP. But it doesn’t require you to know anything related to web services, REST or XML. As you read the first few chapters, you will have a good understanding on the concepts and the basic applications of REST and XML using PHP. And the later chapters will guide to get deeper knowledge in writing complex and real world applications.

If you are a professional developer, you can skip the introduction chapters and jump directly to where you need to refer. For an example, if you use this book as a reference in designing and developing RESTful web service providers, you can directly read the chapter4 – Resource Oriented Services, chapter6- Resource Oriented Clients and Services with Zend Framework and probably the chapter 7 – Debugging Web Services.

This book contains the same example system (the library system) written in three different approaches, first without using any framework support, second using the Zend Framework, third using WSF/PHP. Each of them has its own pros and cons. So if you want to determine the approach more suitable to your requirements, or thinking of migrating from one to another, this book will be an ideal resource for you.

As you may have already noticed, this book contains lot of code samples. All the concepts are followed by simple code samples that explain the concept. In appendix it gives you a complete code for RESTClient class that you can use to call any REST service. Apart from the code of the example library system written using different frameworks, it has lot of codes for calling public web service APIs. And the explanation of the code is also done really well.

So it is clear this book is more targetting readers who like to implement PHP RESTful Systems in practice. And it covers enough concepts that you needed to know in writing practicle applications. So this book can take you from the zero knowlege to a deeper knowlege of RESTful PHP Web Services.

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One Response to RESTful PHP Web Services – Book Review

  1. Jeff Harrison says:

    Can’t see myself retiring at night with this RESTful PHP Web Services book in my lap. Sounds like some heavy reading.
    Actually, I have a little knowledge about PHP coding, but reading this review I think I should be back in PHP101 class.

    Jeff Harrison
    Website: Voice Over

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