Despite my best efforts to cut out as much fluff as possible, this is still quite a long book, and programming is largely a dry topic. Having said that, learning PHP need not be a case of reading a chapter a day and memorising things as you go, and there are a number of tips I want to share with you before you start reading that will help you get the most out of this book:
Don't try to memorise things en masse. I will make it quite clear if there is something that is very important for you to remember, but to be frank that will be rare - trying to remember hundreds of functions or parameters or bits of jargon will only slow your learning.
Don't rush yourself. Yes, it is fun to learn, and you are going to have a great time learning PHP I can promise you, but that does not mean you should try to hit the ground running. Take it easy, and you will remember things better, enjoy the book more, and become a better programmer as a result.
Familiarise yourself with the language. Once you know a few bits and pieces, get started using them straight away. There is a surprising amount of functionality you can put together knowing just a few simple commands, and that's before you try hooking them all together into bigger and better things. So, get started using PHP as early as you feel comfortable.
Be creative. If you want to try out something crazy, go for it - the only way you are going to learn is by trying, and, yes, failing too.
Program in an environment that suits you. This might be your bedroom, in the dark, in the early hours of the morning, or it might be on a laptop in a park somewhere. The great thing about programming is that there are no restraints on how you do it - think of it like freestyle art.
Don't over-do it. If you are a caffeine hog like most geeks, sure, go ahead and drink coffee all you want - I get my fix from Mountain Dew, which has kept me going on many all-nighters. Having said that, you aren't helping yourself if you fall asleep reading this book night after night, and neither is it a good thing to program when you are half awake - there is nothing worse than waking up at a desk the next morning and not having the faintest clue how the code you wrote last night works.
Finally, remember that programming is supposed to be fun . If you find yourself hitting a mental brick wall repeatedly, you are doing something wrong. This book is structured so that you keep getting newer and harder challenges to push your programming talents further, but feel free to stop at any point and take a walk in the park.
Enjoy the book!
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