Foundation PHP for Flash
There is a support site dedicated to Foundation PHP
for Flash at phpforflash.com
PHP is a rapidly growing open source web scripting
language - the most popular Apache web server module, used in over
7,000,000 domains. There is a huge demand to integrate dynamic
content into Flash sites and, as a competitor with ASP, JSP and
ColdFusion, PHP has the advantages of being free, easy to learn and
capable of running on just about any platform.
When used in
conjunction with Flash, PHP can process, store and create new data.
PHP can also work as a bridge between the Flash movie and external
data sources, enabling web designers to build dynamic, interactive
web applications, incorporating information from a host of
databases, and including features such as e-mail integration and
As an ingredient to a website,
PHP can help a designer develop the functional potential of their
work and set them above the growing multitude of motion graphics
Written completely with the designer in mind, this
easy-to-follow Foundation book offers a thorough tutorial which will
build your PHP skills from nothing to the point where processing,
storing and creating new data is like second nature.
Who is this book
- Any professional working designer
who is interested in learning a new scripting language. Although
the book uses Flash examples, it also serves as a designer-centric
introduction to PHP and MySQL for those who want to use it outwith
or beyond Flash.
- Flash users at any level who want to get starting
with dynamic data integration, adding a new edge to their Flash
projects with a minimum of fuss.
What does this book cover?
Foundation PHP for Flash will take you through
the basics of using dynamic information with Flash, from loading and
sending data from Flash, through the essentials of PHP, into the
world of database integration and then digging in with three huge
in-depth case studies, building three major applications from
1: Dynamic Data for Flash;
Sample Application: A User Registration FLA
2: Getting Started
with PHP; Sample Application: A User Login FLA
3: Making PHP Work
for You; Sample Application: A Tell-a-Friend Site Recommendation
4: PHP and Information Handling; Sample Application: A simple
search and replace Text Highlighter
5: Looking for Patterns;
Sample Application: A Fully-searchable News Archive
Remembering Visitor Information; Sample Application: A Flash Cookie
Cutter to fetch and store cookies
7: Tapping into External Files;
Sample Application: A Flash Mailing List
8: Introducing the
9: Integrating PHP with MySQL; Sample Application: A
Flash Content Management System
10: Case Study 1 – User
11: Case Study 2 – Event Planner / Calendar
Study 3 – Flash Forum
Appendix A – Installing PHP, MySQL and
Apache on Windows, Mac OS X and UNIX
Appendix B – PHP and Object
Oriented Programming (for advanced users)
Sample Application – A
Flash Shopping Basket
Appendix C - Resources
Review by Matthew Kosoy
"Foundation PHP for Flash is one of the best books a web
developer can own. It is a guide that will help you use Flash to
spruce up your forums, news pages, content management systems,
shopping carts, or any other type of dynamic web app with a little
bit of vector based pizzazz. For those of you who don't know, PHP is
the open source alternative to ASP or Cold Fusion. This versatile
programming language can help you create dynamic database driven web
applications without hefty licensing fees. Yes, it's what open
source is all about: being FREE! WHEE! That rhymes!
Written by Steve Webster with help from content architect Alan
McCann, Foundation PHP for Flash has been helpful in my PHP learning
process. This was the first book on the subject of PHP that I used
in my learning experience. It is both very descriptive and helpful.
It includes an appendix section on how to install PHP, Apache, and
mySQL on a variety of platforms. Chapters are dedicated to learning
databases, learning PHP, and, obviously, integrating the
all-powerful Flash. Provided are three case studies, which are
actual real world examples, of how a user can incorporate PHP and
mySQL with a Flash front end.
I recommend this book for someone who is dedicated. Knowledge
does not come overnight and many attempts later it still might not
come. Developing database driven content can be time consuming and
very frustrating. Fear not. Do not tread lightly. You will succeed
in your quest for knowledge. Just so long as it begins with friends
Review by Andy Barefoot.
8 out of 10.
"Before I start, I ought to mention that I am a developer rather
than a designer and I still consider myself a Flash beginner having
jumped on board at version 5 when it became possible to do something
interesting with the Actionscript. I had also recently started
dabbling in PHP and had done some work combining the two already.
However, having read Friends of Ed books before whilst getting to
grasp with Flash 5 I was looking forward to seeing the problems
approached from a designer's perspective.
PHP is a server-side scripting language meaning that code is
interpreted on the server before the finished document is sent back
to the client's browser. Joyously, it is open source, as is MySQL, a
database solution which interacts nicely with PHP. PHP for Flash
does contain all the details you'll need for installing these
programs in a sizeable Appendix, but I can't vouch for the clarity
of these instructions as my ISP provides me with PHP and MySQL as
part of my hosting bundle. (Most good ones do so you should be able
to avoid installing them yourself unless you want them on your local
machine). Instead I ploughed straight on into Chapter 1.
Once you are ready to start having a go the book breaks you in
nice and easy. Chapter One covers getting data into and out of Flash
and I was reassured to see that two of the biggest headaches I had
when first trying to integrate PHP and Flash were pointed out
straight away. Firstly, having requested data from the server, you
have to make sure you've received it before continuing the movie.
Secondly, Flash caches the results of a request, so if you send the
same request again Flash will assume the results will be the same
and you will 'receive' the same data. These two stumbling blocks
alone had me puzzled for hours on my first Flash/PHP project before
resorting to a plea for help on the flashkit.com bulletin boards.
The fact that the book identifies them as pitfalls and addresses
them immediately made me confident the author knew what he was on
Chapters Two to Five start the PHP scripting. Subjects covered
include creating variables, statements, arrays, functions,
manipulating strings, and pattern matching. Not the most exciting
subject matter and Chapter Two in particular is a hefty 50 pages and
seems quite daunting. However the casual style of the author and the
simple approach makes a dry subject palatable. I was impressed by
the general grounding in programming the book provides. It aims to
teach good programming practice as well as the specifics of PHP.
This means that once you have completed the book you should be able
to produce robust code without having to resort to hacking at
snippets contained in the examples. I was surprised by the amount of
material that was new to me, as I had tried to plough through a
couple of other PHP books when I first became interested in its
possibilities. I wasn't expecting to find a better explanation of
coding principals in a book aimed at designers than I had in books
aimed at programmers, but not only was the information more thorough
but the explanations seemed to make more sense than they had
Chapter Six explains how to set cookies so you can recall
information about visitors when they next enter your site. Again,
the author doesn't stop at just the basics of creating and deleting
cookies but also takes you through the security issues surrounding
them and you are left knowing not just how to implement cookies, but
when and why you should use them.
Chapters Seven to Nine deal with reading from and writing
to/creating external files. Chapter Seven deals with flat text files
with Eight and Nine explaining how MySQL can be incorporated to
query a database. This is where it starts to get exciting as you can
see how Flash can be used as the front end to serious database
applications. Again, the explanation of MySQL never strays into
incomprehensible techno-blurb and the pace is relaxed and
reassuring. Throughout these chapters the practicalities of
integrating the PHP and MySQL into Flash are never neglected and as
soon as you learn one aspect of the code there is immediately an
example of how to use it.
Chapters Ten to Twelve take you through three larger Case
Studies: a User Poll, an Event Planner, and a Forum. These are up to
the high standards those of you familiar with Friends of Ed will
have come to expect. You are taken through the planning, design and
implementation of the projects and unlike many past experiences I
did feel I could do actually go on to attempt similar projects on my
own having completed them.
The book also contains three appendices. As mentioned earlier the
first takes you through the installation of PHP, Apache and MySQL
should you need to do it yourself, the second contains a lesson in
Object Orientated Programming and the third a useful list of
resources. The OOP appendix in particular impresses as it was above
and beyond the level of programming I'd expected to find.
What you immediately appreciate about this book is the usefulness
and relevance of what you are learning. Each chapter takes you
through the theory of a new subject and then includes a step-by-step
guide to building a useful application using what you have just
learnt. Now, I've read several books in the past that claim to do
this, but few that actually deliver. Either you're rushed through a
perfunctory example with no real-world use at the end of a long and
indigestible passage or the code is tacked on in an Appendix whilst
the book explains how to build a flashing and swirling front end.
I expected that this book would be aimed at the design community
and would therefore fit into the latter category, heavy on the Flash
and light on the programming. In fact, it is surprisingly thorough,
teaching the correct programming principals without ever getting too
difficult. It doesn't cut corners in its haste to show you a working
example but the exercises are in most cases genuinely useful. As I
have stated earlier, I came to this book having already attempted to
learn some PHP and integrate it with my Flash movies. Had I owned
this book from the start I would have saved myself a lot of time and
stress. All the amateurish mistakes that I spent hours puzzling over
before eventually working out a complicated and inefficient solution
to are identified as potential pitfalls in this book and solved
frustratingly simply. It was a real surprise to see such detail in a
relatively thin book and I finished it with a real confidence that I
could have a go myself at seemingly complicated projects.
Overall an excellent introduction to putting dynamic content into
your Flash movies and well worth the money.
Pixelsurgeon Rating: 8/10"