This section outlines the structure of the book. Check the table of contents for more detail. Although you should feel free to dip in and out of the chapters to get information on a topic as and when you need it, if you're not familiar with object-oriented development, or, more important, how it is implemented in PHP5, you should definitely start by reading Part I. The rest of the book makes use of these techniques from cover to cover, so it's vital for you to have the basic grounding in OOP before trying to press on with the trickier stuff.
The first part of Professional PHP5 is devoted to enlightening the PHP developer in the art of object-oriented development, which is greatly improved in PHP5. You'll learn basic object-oriented concepts and how to read, express, and document your code using UML. You'll also get a short introduction to reusing standard development techniques through the use of design patterns.
After completing the first part, you should be ready to develop in PHP5 in a syntactic capacity. World-wizened PHP4 developers should expect to experience at least one "Ah-ha" moment, and although you'll want to test drive the new PHP features right away, you're encouraged to continue with Part II or Part III.
The second part, although titled "Simple Utility Classes and Interfaces,'' is much more than just some random collection of code.
You'll learn about high-level abstractions and see how they are directly used. Collections, iterators, object-persistence, and creational design-patterns are used to create some of the building blocks and are utilized in later chapters.
There are also some core development skills, such as event-driven programs as well as a sample SOAP utility.
Part III is essentially about building up your development skills in PHP 5. This is where you'll learn about the model-view-controller abstraction and how it is used in PHP. An entire chapter is devoted to the technical specifics and process of unit testing, and another covers utilizing the abstraction of finite-state machines.
This part also discusses more high-level utility functionality such as authentication and sessions.
Programming abstractions are wonderful, but a developer still needs to work with a team in order to deliver substantial software. This is where project management methodologies, planning, and systems architecture collide to help you meet those deadlines.
This part also has an extensive case study that combines many of the tools, development skills, and methodologies to help you experience firsthand how software is developed and shipped in the real world.
The appendices are home to some important topics we couldn't neatly fit into any of the previous four sections.
You'll learn about version control why it's important and how to implement it on a large project using CVS or SourceSafe. You'll also meet a number of PHP development IDEs, allowing you to cast aside your rusty old text editor in favor of a slicker, PHP-tailored solution.
There's also a discussion of how to performance tune your PHP applications to get the most out of them, even on slower server hardware, as well as a simple cheat sheet for setting up PHP and Apache on Linux.