Today I received my copy of the new symfony 1.3 book as I said earlier the day in my tweet.

In the meanwhile I had a chance to read the book, skipping all the coding. The book is easy to read and teaches to build a milkshake shop along the pages. However there is no new idea, because the TOC matches to ones from other symfony books. And I must state that the book suffers from a few things:

  • You can note that this book was “upgraded” for newer versions. It says Propel 1.2 is used, which is not true anymore since symfony 1.2. It gives links that point to 1.0 documentation and for installation 1.2 links because “at the time of writing 1.3 was not released”. I can understand that as publisher you want to have a book that covers the current version. But be fair with your customers. This book does know nothing about Doctrine (1.2) and Propel 1.4  which are the main libraries included in symfony. As part of this the book also explains emails wrong. Well at least it uses swiftmailer, but in 1.3 there will be native symfony support based on swiftmailer.
  • Code examples have syntax errors, are multi page ymls that the reader should “copy” (ok, sourceode is available as download) and contains comments like
    //create new criteria
    $c = new Criteria();
  • The application being built shall look nice, to achieve that tons of style information clutters up the examples. it is hard to see where the important stuff comes from. I would have preferred a complete (complex) css that styles everything so that the examples are easier to read
  • The book does not tell anything about “symfony cc” [ok it does, it says this is explained when installing a plugin, but when you have read up to there, there is no note of this as well]. From my experience “symfony cc” was the answer to most of the questions on the mailing list. Symfony book should spend a whole chapter of teaching this :)

On the bright side we have:

  • The book uses symfony Forms, which many people find under-documented. Perhaps the book can help here?
  • The book uses symfony 1.2 admin generator and avoids the 1.0 compatible deprecated features.
  • It illustrates a way to send emails. Something which was a challenge for symfony 1.0-1.2 users.

If it would have been a symfony 1.2 book, I would have recommended it. But the forced upgrade to 1.3 harmed it. I hope that Packt and the authors will update the book after release of 1.3/1.4. For over 40 Euros I would have expected a much better book.