Book Review: The PEAR Installer Manifesto by Gregory Beaver – Packt Publishing.
When I was asked by a Packt representative if I would review the book “SOA Approach to Integration” by Poornachandra Sarang, Frank Jennings, Matjaz Juric and Ramesh Loganathan I was told I could pick a book of my choice as a “thank-you” for writing that review.
I jumped at the chance to obtain a copy of “The PEAR Installer Manifesto” – and have now been asked to write a review of it, so here goes:
The book is approximately 270 pages long, split into six chapters, and is aimed at PHP developers who “want to understand how the PEAR Installer works and what it can do for them” and also for those “seeking a better way to deploy their applications and manage updates”.
The six chapters are:
- What is it and how do I get it?
- Managing PHP Software Management with the PEAR Installer
- Leveraging Full Application Support with the PEAR installer
- Clever Website Coordination using the pear Installer
- Releasing to the world: PEAR Channels
- Embedding the PEAR Installer: Designing a Custom Plugin System
Chapter one explains what PEAR is, how to install the PEAR installer and how to deploy PEAR packages remotely onto a server over FTP – proving that no matter what way you access your production servers you can, and should, be using the PEAR installer.
Chapter two covers versioning, package.xml and roles; teaching how to turn software written in PHP into discrete distributable packages.
Chapter three focuses more on version two of package.xml (chapter two briefly covered both versions 1 and 2 of the package definition file) and explains how to bundle a package with its dependancies.
Chapter four is about source code control and performing roll-backs on pear packages – essential tasks when it comes to managing a complex website.
Chapter five details how to set up a channel server, outlines various ways to distribute packages and applications using channel servers and discusses related security issues.
Chapter six closes the book with an explanation of why you might want to embed the PEAR installed, a discussion of several methods of handling plug-in systems and designing a custom PEAR channel-based plugin system.
As a PEAR developer who’s going through the process of getting a new package proposed and accepted I found the discussion of package.xml enlightening – much more so than the current online documentation.
As a developer who has occasionally needed to rollback changes pushed to a production server… well, if chapters two and three weren’t eye-opening enough; chapter four definitely was as it details how to employ the PEAR installer to update and rollback live code so you can quickly revert back to a known working version of the site.
Though they are relatively few the book is not without its flaws: there is a small number of spelling mistakes present and considering the book was published in 2006 I don’t think it unrealistic to expect these to be corrected in an on-line errata. Other than that I found “The PEAR Installer Manifesto” to be a nicely focused, well written book grounded with good case studies and real world examples.
Authored by the authority on the PEAR installer the book couldn’t get much better. Highly recommended.