Recommended Reading List

Posted by Stuart Herbert on August 2nd, 2011

You can find the master copy of this reading list on GitHub.

I do a lot of mentoring of PHP Developers, and as part of that, I spend quite a bit of time showing folks where to go to keep up with news and trends with PHP, the wider community, and the web ecosystem in general. Instead of repeating myself all the time, I thought it would be a sensible thing to maintain a list of my recommendations in one place, to make it easier for everyone to track.

This isn’t a definitive list (pull requests on GitHub welcome!), but I hope that you find it a very useful one.

If you know of any resources that the general PHP developer community / ecosystem would probably be interested in, please send me a pull request.

PHP Development

If you’re writing PHP code, there are a few key feeds to follow to keep up with PHP’s ongoing evolution, and how people are using it in anger:

  • PHP.net Feeds: RSS

    The official website for PHP. Not a lot of news published here, but useful when it does appear.

  • Planet PHP Feeds: RSS

    This is your one-stop shop for keeping up with the blogs of individual developers working in PHP today. Anyone who is doing useful work for the wider PHP community will be on here. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that anyone who is blogging about PHP but isn’t on Planet PHP … I’d be questioning why not.

  • Planet MySQL Feeds: RSS

    The same is true of Planet MySQL.

  • Planet PHPUnit Feeds: RSS

    You are unit-testing your work, right? If so, chances are you’re using Sebastian Bergmann’s PHPUnit, the de facto standard tool for unit testing PHP code.

PHP Frameworks

Frameworks are becoming a key way forward for more and more websites and web-based applications written in PHP. There are too many PHP Frameworks for me to recommend that you read what all of them are up to, but there are a few key ones you should keep an eye on, whether you use them or not.

These are the MVC-like frameworks that developers use to create applications from scratch:

These are the leading content frameworks that developers use to quickly build-out content websites:

These are leading components that developers can use to avoid re-inventing the wheel:

Ruby On Rails Development

I’m not a Rails developer myself, but there’s no denying that Rails has led where the majority of PHP Frameworks have followed. If you’re in a leadership role in a PHP shop, it’s worth keeping an eye on how the Rails community are solving their problems, as you might find something that will solve yours too.

Browsers

Major browser news tends to turn up on the general technology blogs, but you really should make the time and effort to go and read the original source material too. Right now, there are only three browsers that you need to pay attention to:

Web Design / Frontend Stuff

Back Office / Server-Side Stuff

LAMP Stack Users

If you use Linux anywhere in your development, test or production environments, then you must must must go out right now and purchase a subscription to Linux Weekly News. It is the one place to keep up with what is going on in the Linux community, and is worth every single penny.

Once you’ve subscribed to Linux Weekly News, you might find the following sites to be sources of useful additional information:

It isn’t possible to make an exhaustive list of Linux distro-specific blogs to read, so I’ve decided to focus on just the leading Linux distros for this list.

Servers, Platforms, Clouds, Enterprise

Your code ultimately has to run in production on a server of some kind … and be networked up to the wider world so that people can come and enjoy your work. And if you’re smart, or lucky (or both!), you’ll need to start scaling your work.

General Tech News

If it is happening and it is important, then chances are it will appear on one or all of these main tech blogs:

The next set of blogs are useful because they sometimes pick up stories missed by the big four:

These blogs are focused on hardware:

These blogs are useful because they’re aimed as much at people who use technology as those of us creating it:

The BloggerBoard is also a useful place to look if you’d like to find more general tech blogs to add to your own daily reading.

Tech Giants

Today’s tech giants set the trends, and open-source the technologies, that tomorrow’s startups are keen to follow and use.

Apple:

Apple don’t really blog anything publicly for developers to follow. If that ever changes, I’ll happily add their blogs.

Until then, the rest of the tech blog community seems to cover general Apple news just fine. For Apple-specific blogs, try the following:

Facebook:

Third-party blogs about Facebook that you might find useful too:

Google:

Google have many many blogs, and keeping track of them all would probably leave you no time for design or coding! Many of the important stories get cross-posted to Google’s official blog:

… but it’s also worth looking at some of Google’s other blogs too to see what they’re up to and how it might affect your own work:

Microsoft:

Twitter:

Startups

I keep an eye out for news about new startups for two reasons: they might solve a problem I’m struggling with, and they might inspire me to solve my own problems. Plus it’s always uplifting to see people striking out and trying to do their own thing.

Miscellaneous Stuff

These aren’t all strictly tech blogs, but I’d recommend them anyway to help you be a more self-sufficient and thoughtful dev.

Sites Being Auditioned

These are sites I’ve come across (or have been recommended recently), which I’m reading to see if they are of sufficient quality to make the list.

And Last But Not Least

Everyone needs a bit of humour, especially to remind you that no matter how bad it seems where you’re working, it’s probably worse elsewhere!

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