Issue No.07 - July (2006 vol.7)
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Andreas Veglis , Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MDSO.2006.45
A review of Using Open Source Web Software with Windows by Eric Hunley.
Using Open Source Web Software with Windows
Charles River Media, 2006
It's widely accepted that open source software offers cost savings as well as greater reliability, security, and scalability and better performance than commercial software. But open source is primarily associated with Linux, so people don't realize that open source programs can work on standard Windows computers. Using Open Source Web Software with Windows by Eric Hunley is a useful resource, covering major open source server tools such as Perl, MySQL, Apache, and PHP, which power more than 65 percent of Web sites worldwide. Reading this book guarantees that any Windows user will be able to deploy an open source Web server on a Windows computer. The book includes a CD-ROM with open source Web software, along with all the source code and figures.
The book is suitable for anyone who can use a Windows-based PC and wants to create a Web server on it. Although appendix A summarizes HTML's structure and main tags, you'll find the book easier if you have basic Internet and HTML knowledge. Basically, this book is for beginners. But even an experienced Web programmer should be able to find useful information—it covers a variety of material that's not easy to find in a single book.
Organization and content
Chapter 1 briefly covers the overall Web process to give you a basic understanding about how it works. Chapter 2 describes in detail how to install the Apache 2 server, and the next chapter discusses how to configure it. Chapter 4 covers installing and testing Perl. Hunley discusses the language's structure and basic commands in some detail and gives examples.
The next three chapters deal with PHP. Chapter 5 includes detailed instructions about installing it, and chapter 6 gives a brief overview of coding and syntax. Chapter 7 covers the PHP file system.
The two remaining chapters cover MySQL. More precisely, chapter 8 briefly introduces it and explains how to install it, with additional coverage of the MySQL monitor and phpMyAdmin. Finally, chapter 9 explores communicating with MySQL using the Perl DBI (Database Interface) module and PHP with the mysqli extension.
The appendices include an HTML syntax overview and a brief description of the software included in the companion CD-ROM, as well as the system requirements for running the software.
Strong points, weak points
I'd recommend this book mainly for beginners. The text is readable, and the installation instructions are detailed. The illustrations and screenshots are well done, so you can learn everything you need to know to implement these tools effectively.
The downside of Hunley's survey approach is that he only partially covers each subject. Of course, you couldn't expect to learn Perl, PHP, and MySQL from one book. However, this book might motivate you to investigate these subjects further.
Eric Hunley is an instructor and Web developer who has taught and developed over 25 different courses at the University of Arizona Extended University, including many on Macromedia and Web design. He also wrote Web Design with Macromedia Studio MX 2004 (Charles River Media, 2004) and cowrote Professional Web Design: Techniques and Templates, 2nd edition (Charles River Media, 2004). Using Open Source Web Software with Windows is for readers who like step-by-step directions accompanied by explanations of how things work. I learned many things about open source Web software with his approach. The book's most attractive feature is that it covers everything about open source Web software without overpowering you with too much information.
Andreas Veglis is an associate professor in the Media Informatics Lab in the Department of Journalism and Mass Media Communication at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; ( http://pacific.jour.auth.gr/veglis/english/enindex.htm).