Book review: Instant simple botting with PHP

I had the chance recently to read the book Instant Simple Botting with PHP, written by Shay Anderson and published by Packt Publishing. The book is designed to be a very quick and easy (hence the title!) introduction in to creating bots to scan web pages and collect information from them.

The book seems squarely aimed at beginners in PHP and object orientated programming so lives up quite well to the “simple” aspect of the title. However, I wouldn’t really say “instant” because there are quite a few pages dedicated to setting up PHP and making sure it works with a simple “Hello world”. My preference would have been just to assume that  someone that wants to know how to create bots probably already has PHP set up and has at least a passing familiarity with it. But as it seems to cater to real beginners I suppose it needs to hand-hold people through the setup.

The code is clear throughout and easy for anyone to understand and follow and by the end of it you’ll have something that will very basically scrape a web page. If you’re a beginner I’d imagine you’d be left with some sense of accomplishment and something pretty simple with which you should be able to tinker without getting too caught up with a tonne of code or complexity. However, if you are any kind of seasoned developer then you will probably find the book too light-weight as there are no advanced techniques are really discussed. But then, what would you expect with just around 60 pages in the book?

However, as I’ve said, the code is nice an clean, the book for what it is is well written, and the author discusses some good practices.  Great for a beginner but probably not enough for a mid/seasoned developer.

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