My Forthcoming E-Commerce Book, Rough Table of Contents

June 17, 2010 — 32 Comments

I am very pleased to say that I’ve just finished the rough draft of the Table of Contents for my forthcoming “E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL” book, to be published by New Riders Fall 2010. I’ve been wanting to do this book for some time (and was supposed to do it last year) and readers have been asking for it for even longer, so I’m really excited to get going on it finally.

Many generous readers have provided their ideas and feedback in a forum thread and an earlier blog post. I’ve taken all of those opinions, plus my own thoughts, to come up with this first draft. The content (in terms of what I’m going to write about) is maybe 90% settled and the order of the chapters is about that, too. Many of the specifics, especially when it comes to chapter and section headings will most likely change. Hopefully it should be clear from the table of contents what the intentions are, but just in case…

The book is broken down into four parts. In the first part, which is just two chapters long, I talk about the fundamentals that will apply to any e-commerce project you take on. This starts with planning, choosing a host, development tools, etc. Security as a theory gets its own chapter and security will be hammered in throughout the entire book. But that security chapter covers the bigger picture and some gritty details with respect to choices that have big impacts (such as hosting).

In the second part of the book, I’ll walk through a complete e-commerce project, from HTML and database design to user management to handling payments through PayPal. There are three points to this first example:

  1. Understanding the basics in terms of design and the development process
  2. Knowing how to perform user management and access control
  3. Handling payments with a simple gateway like PayPal

This e-commerce project would be digital/virtual content. The specific example would be a subscription access to the site (like what does) but it could also be PDFs that you sell or licenses for software or whatever. Anything that doesn’t have a limited quantity to be sold or that needs to be shipped. I’ll be using PayPal because it’s far and away the most common payment system, even if not everyone likes it. Google’s payment gateway would be comparable.

In the third part of the book, I’ll cover a second complete e-commerce project. This one will be a lot more complicated, with the focus on:

  • Creating a product catalog
  • Creating a shopping cart
  • A multi-step checkout process, including shipping
  • A credit card payment gateway
  • Order and catalog administration

This example wouldn’t specifically require user registration and logging in, but you could take the information taught in the second part to enable that feature here. I’ll try to make the thing being sold reasonably diverse (a range of products, not just a single thing).

The fourth part of the book will be add-ons and improvements. This is also the “if I have the space” section, which is to say that I’ll write about as much of this extra stuff as I have the available pages. I’ve organized these chapters in terms of most universally useful, starting with a search engine and then going into marketing. There’s a lot of possible topics in the marketing section, from SEO, to product recommendations and reviews, to analytics. Next up is a chapter on using Ajax to improve the user experience. There should be room for those three chapters in the printed edition of the book.

The final three chapters, in this rough table of contents, are definitely “if there’s space”. If not, I’ll write about them in this blog. Instead of offering entirely new concepts, the last three chapters would be alternative ways to do things you’ve already seen to that point: expanding the depth of the content, not its breadth. First up would be other gateways, as that’s a vital part of the process and there are many good options out there. Next would be a chapter on Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), in which I rewrite some of the book’s code using OOP. Many people really want to see OOP in the book, many absolutely don’t, so as a middle ground my theory is to add an OOP chapter that translates procedural code in an understandable way. The final chapter, which I’ll admit there probably won’t be room for, would present alternative database schemas for other kinds of e-commerce applications.

All that being said, here’s the current rough table of contents. I welcome all comments, questions, and thoughts!

  • Introduction
  • ———————

    Part 1: Fundamentals

  • Chapter 1: Getting Started
    • Identifying Your Business Goals
    • Legal/Business Issues
    • Choosing Web Technologies
    • Getting a Host
    • Development Tools
    • The Development Process
  • Chapter 2: Security Fundamentals
    • Hosting Implications
    • Payment Considerations
    • Secure Transactions
    • Protecting Information
  • ———————

    Part 2: The Digital Content Example (Rename)

  • Chapter 3: Site Structure and Design
    • HTML
    • Server Organization
    • Database Design
  • Chapter 4: Handling Payments with PayPal
  • Chapter 5: User Management
    • Registration
    • Login
    • Access Control
    • Updating Accounts
  • ———————

    Part 3: The Physical Content Example (Rename)

  • Chapter 6: Site Structure and Design 2
    • HTML
    • Server Organization
    • Database Design
  • Chapter 7: Creating a Catalog
    • Browsing by category
    • Highlighting new products
    • Creating Sales and Discounts
  • Chapter 8: Starting Orders
    • Creating a Shopping Cart
    • Shopping Cart Managment
    • Shipping
    • Finalizing Purchases
  • Chapter 9: Checking Out
    • Credit Card Payment Gateway
    • Storing Orders
    • Email Status/Receipts
    • Checking Order Status Online
  • Chapter 10: Administration
    • Authentication
    • Stock Management
    • Reports/Graphs
  • ———————

    Part 4: Extra Touches

  • Chapter 11: Building a Search Engine
  • Chapter 12: Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Adding Ads
    • Product Recommendations
    • Notify when product is available
    • Reviews
    • Newsletters
    • Customer Help
    • Tracking referrers/Analytics
  • Chapter 13: Adding Ajax
    • cart management in sidebar
    • comments/reviews
    • ratings
    • purchasing
  • Chapter 14: Alternative Gateways
  • Chapter 15: Using OOP
  • Chapter 16: Alternative Database Schemas
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32 responses to My Forthcoming E-Commerce Book, Rough Table of Contents

  1. Daniel Shanahan June 17, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Looking forward to this book.

  2. Hi Larry,

    Like you, I am a self-taught web developer and have done so predominantly using your books. I love the ideas you have for the new book. I’m currently working on developing a couple subscription based websites and wanted to use PayPal for handling the recurring monthly billing. I haven’t started coding the subscription piece yet, but have been researching the process. My biggest concern is how to integrate PayPal with my MySQL database. I don’t want to store the credit card info in my database because I don’t want to deal with the overhead involved, but I need to be able to keep the database and PayPal in sync, automatically updating the database with the new expiration date if the transaction was successful.

    I hope that you cover this in your book.

    Even more, I love the OOP section of showing how you would turn YOUR procedural examples into OOP. I think you have a great following and many of us who will buy this book will have been long-time followers of your methodologies. This part HAS to stay. I would actually love you see you write an entire book on OOP.

    The only thing I don’t like, is I have to wait till the fall to get it!

    Finally, thank you for everything! You have done more for me than you will ever know!

    • Hello David. Thanks for the comments and for the interest in the book! I think the recurring payment is a good example to do, and I’ll try to address it in the book. I do hope the OOP section will make it to the book because a lot of people do seem to want that. Thanks again for the nice words and the support!

  3. Hey Larry, it sounds great!

    Question about chapter 12, will these topics just be discussed or shown through code examples?

    Really like how you have given a chapter to developing a search engine, not enough solid resources out there showing how to develop one.

    How many pages are you aiming for?

    • Hey Jason,

      Thanks for the reply and the questions. For Ch 12, on marketing, it’d be a combination of discussion and code. Like SEO would get both and maybe I’d show how to use Google’s Analytics and AdSense. There are a lot of possible other topics there, so how much code I get into will depend upon space. Right now I’ve just sorted of grouped them all together.

      As for the page count, I forget what I’ve been allotted but it’s probably around 400 pages.

      Thanks again!

  4. Chinedu Chukuigwe June 19, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I can’t wait for this book from you, Larry. I love your clear concise writing and manner of teaching programming. Thanks for all your other books and for this one in anticipation.

  5. Hi Larry,

    A small thing I hope to see that came to me while following your script examples in PHP:VQS Guide(3rd Ed):

    – When you start a new script, perhaps give the name you will call it in the 1st/2nd step instead of the last (“…Save the file as script.php and place it in the proper directory…”). It’s a minuscule grievance, but I always found myself not 100% sure which script you were on.

    If you’ve already addressed this in the PHP/SQL and/or PHP Advances books then I apologize, but it would sure make your examples a bit easier to follow.

    Cheers and good luck with the book – I can’t wait to add it to my collection! :)


    • Hello Brad, Thanks for the feedback and for the interest in the book. I can see what you mean about the scripts and perhaps I should start putting the names of the scripts up front so that it’s more clear.

  6. Larry
    I will be looking forward to this book (I have several of your books). E Commerce is something I haven’t dealt with very much but It looks like I may getting a contract for an Ecommerce site soon and this will help immensely.

  7. I’m really looking forward to this, and the TOC looks great.

    One thing that’s just mentioned at the end of Ch. 12, which I am very interested in, is analytics/metrics. Also landing page design.

    There is an awful lot of SEO information on the web and it’s constantly changing — PigeonRank, Caffeine, SSL search, and that’s just Google. So my advice would be, don’t spend too much time on it. 1) Anyone building an actual ecommerce site is going to buy a separate book and search the internet, and 2) it’s going to get outdated comparatively quickly.

    I’m going to buy the book no matter what, but my sole reason for buying it is to learn code, so the more focused it is, the better it will suit me, FWIW. E.g., I’m likely to skip some of Ch.1. I’d be happy if the first words in the book were “<?php" or "<DOCTYPE . . .".

    Priorities for me are 1) security, 2) payment, 3) database and page flow for browsing/ordering/paying.

    • Thanks, Mason, for the feedback and for the interest in the book. I definitely agree with you on the SEO. The fact of the matter is that SEO is almost entirely about creating good content. Any little trick after that is just a trick for an extra potential nudge here and there. So, yes, I won’t go over the top with that discussion.

      The book, while discussing some of the theories and reasons for doing things, will have lots of code. By the end of the book, every reader should have plenty of code that they can apply immediately to their own projects. And, yes, security will be well represented, as it’s really the most important issue with e-commerce. In fact, the main difference between having an e-commerce site vs. any other is security. Thanks again!

  8. Hello Larry,

    I am looking forward for your new book. wonder weather the following topics are also touched up on,
    -PHP debugging , profiling/performance testing and web statistic data collection and reporting
    – site the design principle applied with its benefits and constrains (if any )

    • Thanks for your feedback (and my apologies for the delayed reply). Your suggestions are good. PHP debugging wouldn’t be appropriate for this book, as that’s a basics of PHP kind of thing. Profiling/performance testing and Web stats are good considerations, though. Thanks for mentioning it. Not sure what you mean by the “site the design…”, however.

  9. Russ Dauterman June 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I would like the technique you used in the add_print.php script (PHP 6 and MySQL 5) where you allow people to select the print’s artist or separately enter a new artist’s name to have both features merged in a new script into on drop down file with the following features:

    As people enter an artist’s name, an incremental search is performed. If the artist’s name comes up, pressing Enter enters it into the form. If the artist’s name doesn’t come up because it hasn’t been entered yet, the name should be entered as a new entry when the Enter key is pressed.

    This combined drop down box will provide a much nicer data entry experience for people who are doing a lot of product data entry. Thanks

    • Thanks for the feedback and for the excellent suggestion. It’d also make for a good Ajax example! I had always worried that the add_print.php script in my “PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickStart Guide” was too complex. Glad to hear it rang a bell for you!

  10. Larry,

    I hope part three is the focus of the book with part two laying the foundation for its successor. I’m looking forward to coding a full featured e-commerce site from the ground up.


    • Hello Don,
      Thanks for your input. Yes, Part 3 will, for the most part, be the focus of the book, at least in the sense that it’ll create the most complex and applicable example. Much of what you learn in Part 2 will be commonly used, as well, but it’ll be a much simpler example. Part 4 will be the icing on the cake section!

  11. Hi Larry,

    As I’ll alway say “Keep up the good work!”. You’re just an author with distinction.

    I can’t just wait to grab your upcoming book on e-Commerce but I will also like to hear you do a book on e-Learning in no distant future.


  12. Larry,

    Thanks for writing this book! This is exactly what I’m looking for!! Can’t wait to get my copy.

  13. Larry,
    I own most of your books,and always seem to have one open. I am very pleased to have another one to add to my collection. These are the GEMS of my library. You’re a terrific instructor. Clear, concise, direct. I like your style and find that I do not have to struggle with your explanation. I write this post just to say “Thank You”.
    Sal Perconte

    • Thanks, Sal. I’m blushing. I’m glad that you like my work and it’s very kind of you to say so. Hopefully I can keep up your expected level of quality!

  14. I have had a look at the book on safari. The comment that I have is that I was hoping that it would detail how to take payments by paypal standard for example a site selling DVD’s and not just the subscription option. In your previous book we reach the checkout and then it stops and I am unsure how to recieve payment from paypal using the process so far. It would have been nice to see this example too

    • Thanks for your interest in the book. Two fully functional sites are developed in the book. In the first, virtual content is sold and PayPal is used as the payment processor. In the second, physical products are sold and First Data Global Gateway is used as the payment processor. The second example in the book would therefore be applicable to what you’re doing. However, if you want to use PayPal, using its regular “Buy Now” option is not significantly different than using the subscription option.

  15. Hi Larry
    I’ve just pre-ordered your book from Amazon, as I’ve been v impressed by your PHP6 & MySQL5 – lookin gforward to delving into it! Any idea when it hits the UK?

    • Thanks for your interest and for the nice words on the PHP 6 & MySQL 5 book. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately I don’t know when the book hits the UK (I almost never know such things), but you can read it online immediately at Safari Books Online.

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