Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL

Welcome to the companion Web pages for the book Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL, written by Larry Ullman and published by New Riders (ISBN 0-321-65622-9). The book was published in October 2010.

In this comprehensive guide to creating an e-commerce Web site using PHP and MySQL, renowned author Larry Ullman walks you through every step—designing the visual interface, creating the database, presenting content, generating an online catalog, managing the shopping cart, handling the order and the payment process, and fulfilling the order—always with security and best practices emphasized along the way. Even if you’re an experienced Web developer, you’re guaranteed to learn something new.

The book uses two e-commerce site examples—one based on selling physical products that require shipping and delayed payment, and another that sells non-physical products to be purchased and delivered instantly—so you see the widest possible range of e-commerce scenarios. In 11 engaging, easy-to-follow chapters, Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL teaches you how to:

  • Think of the customer first, in order to maximize sales
  • Create a safe server environment and database
  • Use secure transactions and prevent common vulnerabilities
  • Incorporate different payment gateways
  • Design scalable sites that are easy to maintain
  • Build administrative interfaces
  • Extend both examples to match the needs of your own sites


This book is written for those with some PHP and MySQL experience (it does not teach the technologies, just how to apply them to e-commerce).

Demo Sites

The book contains two fully-functional examples, which you can also view online in demo mode:

Other Resources

Beside the handful of pages dedicated to this book, there’s plenty of other content on LarryUllman.com that you might be interested in. Use the “Post Categories” links above to browse by general topic. Any post that’s pertinent specifically to this edition of this book will also have the “ecom” tag (also accessed through the “Extras” link on right).


You can download the code for the book using the links below. If you have any questions or problems, I’d recommend using the book’s corresponding support forum, where you’ll get the fastest answer. Some things you should know:

  • Although these scripts are named or numbered as they are in the book, they do include any updates and changes as warranted by errors that were found after publication. Thus, if you are having problems with a particular script, download the most current version here or check the errata section.
  • The URLs as referenced in the book are available for execution online (see above).
  • These scripts have been formatted with line breaks that will work on most systems running most text editors. If you have difficulty opening a script, try:
    • adjusting the way your text editor treats text files
    • using a different text editor, if possible
    • posting a message to the online forum, asking for help

Complete Set of Scripts

ecom_scripts_ex1.zip (57 KB, last modified 04/01/2011)

ecom_scripts_ex2.zip (578 KB, last modified 06/23/2011)

92 responses to Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL

  1. trying to figure out the MENU in header.html
    this is what i come up with, please let me know.. if php names are correct?
    <!– MENU –>
    <a href="./browse.php/" rel="nofollow">Coffee</a>
    <a href="./shop.php/" rel="nofollow">Goodies</a>
    <a href="./sales.php/" rel="nofollow">Sales</a>
    <a href="./wishlist.php" rel="nofollow">Wish List</a>
    <a href="./cart.php" rel="nofollow">Cart</a>
    <!– END MENU –>

    • Hello Tim,

      First of all, this kind of question would be best in the forums, as the Comments form says, in bold. Second, have you read the book? The code in the book, and that you download from this Web site, is correct as is. The links you have will not work. The ones in the book and the code are correct, as they rely upon Apache mod_rewrite to work.

  2. Thanks Larry, this book is just what I needed! Received my copy from Amazon on Wednesday, just in time for the long weekend.

  3. Hello Larry, I’m clkdg “newbie” on your forum and have three of your books as i’m trying to teach myself php. Got the advanced book yesterday and your first news letter today.

    I really like your visual Qucik….Guide approach as the method you use to communicate to readers.

    I’m a manager of a Financial Development team using PeopleSoft and will bd conferting to Oracle Financials and have always enjoyed doing online programming. I did some old Gupta programming years ago was my first exposure to PC programming. php is my first attempt to at a more modern language for the web.

    This may be a new hobby in the future as I’m approaching retirement in 3 or 4 years. I don’t plan on offering E-commerce but I would like to build some more dynamic pages for our old high school website with senior pictures, memorial pages, push email to subscribers and thingss like that so I I’ll be buying some more books as soon as I grasp what I need to do in the near term.

    I purchased one PHP adn MySQL Web Development book by different authors, and not happy with it, I’ve learned that lesson.

    Keep up the good work.

    Don Greenfield

  4. hi Larry,
    I just purchased your book and am going through. This is third book written by you that I have purchased and I must say I really enjoy your writing style and content. My experience with this book is no different.

    The one thing that I did not like in the presentation of this book is the overuse of bold type especially when it comes to code snippets. It is not easy to read and distracts the attention. In my opinion the best font for code is the standard one we see

    • Thank you for the nice words on my work and for your continued interest in my books. I don’t disagree with you that having the code in bold is a bit heavy (plus there’s an issue with that particular font and how zeroes look like O’s). Unfortunately this was a production design decision that was out of my hands.

      • Perhaps you could convey this feedback to the design team…who knows, if there are others who feel the same, it might make them re-think. It will not stop people from reading your books but definitely make the experience more ‘effortless’ :)

      • Celia Rosenberger April 4, 2011 at 1:55 am

        I love your books! I am eagerly awaiting your javascript book.
        If the publishers will take feedback, tell them I preferred the Visual Start Guides’ editing style because the code was always clear and readable (a font for code where o’s and zeros look the same is a BAD choice!); and the comprehensive index was the most valuable part of the book. These books are reference guides and the index should reflect that.
        Keep up the great work.

        • Hello Celia,

          Thanks for the feedback on my books and for your interest in my JavaScript book. I totally agree with you about the code and font on the E-commerce book. By the time I realized the o’s/zeroes issue, it was too late to fix it. I hadn’t heard anything about the index before. Anyway, I’ll see if I can get all this stuff right in the JavaScript book!

  5. I purchased the printed copy of Effortless E-Commerce as well as pdf of this book because I liked your book PHP (3rd Edition), Learn PHP the Quick and Easy Way . The pdf was bought to read using my laptop when travelling. I was horrified to find that the pdf requires Adobe Digital Editions to read. I refuse to use Adobe Acrobat Reader because it is bloatware and insecure and I refuse to install it. I am resistant to installing Adobe Digital Editions for fear that it requires Acrobat Reader to use.

    Some books such as PHP and MySQL Web Development provide a pdf edition on CD with the book. Sitepoint no longer requires a password of an email address to open their pdfs. Others such as those from InformIT place your name in the footer of the pdf. These pdfs are much easier to use without restrictions.

    Would you mind telling your publishers that you are alienating some of your customers by using Adobe Digital Editions to control the reading of their pdfs. On the Adobe Digital Edition forum there are many disgruntled users. I have wasted my $20 because of these restrictions.

    • So sorry to hear about that, William. As you may know, I have nothing to do with, and practically know nothing about, the distribution and DRM and such. I’m not even familiar with Adobe Digital Editions. I have forwarded your comments to the publisher. I’ve also requested that none of my books ever use any DRM, although I’m not sure if that will take or not. Normally the publisher is pretty good about making things right, so hopefully you’ll hear back from them. Apologies again and I do hope you otherwise like the book.

      • Thanks Larry

        I knew that that you do not control those matters. However, I felt that you might have some influence on policy as an author. Maybe I have an unrealistic approach to the author-publisher relationship.

        Anyway, not to worry. I followed some links and found a watermarked copy of your book that I have just purchased from the Peachpit site through my InformIT account. I will treat it as a learning experience.

        Thank you for your book. I am reading the Effortless E-Commerce book in conjunction with the PHP and MySQL Web Development book. Both are very good except that the latter was published in 2008 and is getting a bit dated. Your book was a welcome find for a more up-to-date approach.

        • I’d like to think I have some influence and yet… I think they will honor my request. Publishers are paranoid, and somewhat rightfully so, as they know they’re losing money due to piracy. But in my opinion, DRM doesn’t really stop the piracy but does offend those trying to legitimately buy the digital book (such as yourself). I’m sorry you had to purchase the book again. I’d offer to refund your money, but after your purchase of two digital copies and a printed copy, I’m probably only up $5 before taxes. Again, maybe the publisher will make it up to you.


  6. Larry thank you so much.. this book is what I needed … I haven’t finished it yet but I was just gonna say thank you for always keeping things simple but effective! Are you planning on printing a new edition of PHP Advanced any time soon? ;)

    • Thanks for the nice words and for the interest in my other books. Right now there is no plan to update the PHP Advanced book, meaning it won’t happen in 2011. Maybe in 2012. I think it’s all still reasonably up to date, though.

  7. Is a framework used in the book or is it basic PHP?

    • Good question and thanks for the interest. After much consideration, I choose not to use a framework, as I felt that using a framework would make the book more about the framework than about the principles of e-commerce. I might augment some of the book’s material by replicating it using a framework (in this blog, over time).

      • If we are serious about creating an Ecommerce site, would it be beneficial to use a framework or is it fine to use the basic language itself? I myself finally gotten comfortable with PHP and I am trying to understand frameworks and still trying to figure out how much of an advantage I can get.

        • E-commerce site or not, it’s always fine to use the basic language itself. Frameworks allow you to develop a site rapidly at a cost of performance and learning curve. Just using a language alone is easier to understand and may perform better, but will undoubtedly take longer to create. I’ve finally found a PHP framework that I like and understand solidly (Yii), but I still don’t use a framework for every project I work on.

          • First of all thank you for your fabulous books, which I purchased, they are:
            PHP for the Web 4th Edition,
            PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites 4th Edition,
            Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL 1st Edition,
            PHP Advanced and Object-Oriented Programming: 3rd Edition,
            Modern JavaScript: Develop and Design,
            YII Framework PDF.

            As of now I am comfortable with php & mysql and basic oop,
            My goal is to to develope e-commerce sites.
            Framework assures reliability, consistency and a big time-saver and more.
            I want to know, if I have to first study the second edition effortless e-commerce book,
            or can I comfortably wait for you upcoming YII Framework book and that will be enough.

            Thank You for taking your time to answer my question,
            I am looking forward for your reply.

          • Thanks, Lee. I’m glad you like the books and thanks for saying so.

  8. In the book Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MYsql the get_password_hash($p) is not correct as you have it create_password_hash($p). It should be get not create. The error is in the book itself not the code maybe a typing error. Though nice book to follow and more practical. If you have a chance can you write a book for YII framework.

    • Yes, that’s already listed on the errata page, I believe. That’s what I get for changing code during a rewrite. Thanks for the feedback. And I am actually planning on writing a book on Yii. If you follow the blog or subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll be notified of its progress. Thanks for your interest!

      • Same to me here am creating a car dealership website whereby I will have them pay for the subscription through paypal before posting cars. Am learning through this book though am doing my site in yii framework. Will it be too hard to carry what I have learn to Yii Larry?

  9. hello larry,
    am a newcomer to your site and i must admit your site has a invaluable content about PHP and much more.I have a copies of your books “Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL”and PHP for the web. am a computer science graduate and for whatever reason i don’t know i just have passion for PHP and fallen in love without knowing much about it. Currently i have the basics on PHP and looking to extend my horizons by digging deeper into it. My first real-world project that i will be starting soon is a website to allow authenticated users to stream online to live music classes and using a payment system such as Pay-Pal to make payments directly to the website.During the development process of the website your book “Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL” will be my guiding angel for developing a successful “e-commerce website” if it’s that i should call it. “LOVELY BOOK LARRY” Keep up the hard work! Thanks

  10. Hi Larry, I am going to look on the forums, I wanted to see that the script worked as I was reading the book. I must say, it is definitely an amazing book and I am so happy I found it. Id never realy heard of you before I bought the book on amazon!! :). There is a slight problem which I don’t understand, I don’t understand it because its a mysql problem. It basically when I click on add cart on any page. An error occurred in script ‘/home/chatuh/public_html/cart.php’ on line 81:
    mysqli_num_rows() expects parameter 1 to be mysqli_result, boolean given

    This is what comes up. I will try to find something to fix it in the forums if I can but if not, now u know the problem and when u can fix it please could you email me thanks.

    Apart from that, i’ve always wanted to become an advanced php programmer by programming a shopping cart but I couldn’t find any types of books where I can teach myself. Anyways I also can’t wait for your Javascript book.

    • Hello Angelina. Thanks for the nice words on the e-commerce book and for your interest in my JavaScript book. As for your problem, post your message, along with all the applicable details, in the support forums and I, or someone else, will assist. I prefer to do all debugging work and reader assistance in the forums, so I’m not going to email you about it. I can tell you the problem is simply that your query isn’t working, but I can’t tell you why your query isn’t working (nor can anyone else). You’ll need to do some debugging detective work to figure out the cause: something about your database is amiss. Again, turn to the forum for help. Thanks!

      • Yes I just realised, it means the the result expected has come back false which means the add cart is not working. I willcopy and paste the code to the forum today although it is purely your code it might be the way mysql connects to my database, I was going to change it slightly to suit my needs and by that way I would be learning.

        • Right, it’s purely my code but that doesn’t mean it’ll work on your system. Because it’s your database and your Web server, etc. If you haven’t properly created the stored procedures, if there’s a connection problem, and so forth, then the code will fail. In such cases, the standard PHP-MySQL debugging techniques will quickly identify the problem.

  11. hey larry
    Are you gonna write a book on javascript ?
    i really want to learn it bad. If you are already writing, are you writing it keeping beginners in mind or for intermediate/advanced guys?(i will be extremely grateful if you will write for absolute beginner). BTW your effortless e-commerce is simply amazing.

    • Hello, Sean. Thanks for the nice words on the e-commerce book and for your interest in a JavaScript book. Both are much appreciated. Yes, I’m actually starting a JavaScript book next month, to be published later this year. It will definitely be for beginners, taking them to an intermediate-plus level. If you subscribe to the newsletter or just follow the site, you’ll see updates about the JavaScript book as I have them. Thanks again!

  12. soularbiskwitz June 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Can you recommend a good book for CMS development with php? Or do you have one in the market? I bought your Effortless ecommerce ebook. Its comprehensible! nice job!

  13. Hi i am from nepal..I like your book.i have read dozens of books on programming..but this book is excellent…good job…

  14. Hi,I have buy your book and the extras and errata I will know from here ?
    I post here because don’t want to bother you at forum.

    • Hello. Thanks for the interest in the book. I gather English is not your native language but I’m not quite following what you’re asking here. And, if you do need help with the book’s content, please use the forums.

  15. Thanks Larry For this great book .I have learned a-lot of new things from this .

  16. Hi larry ,
    I got chance to read your three books( Namely Effortless E-Commerce, PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for Dynamic Web Sites and PHP 5 Advanced) all book are awesome… I like your style of presenting subject matter in very simple way and your style of expressing your knowledge in simple words with a lots of real world example ….. All these books are very nice and have covered many of the security related issue that we must have fixed while developing web application…… I heard that you are writing book for “YII FRAMEWORK” is it true? if so then when it will be on market…. Are you planning to write book for Zend frammework as well or if you have already then let me know…
    Once again thanks for a great job ….. Keep on doing……

    • Thank you very much, Niroj. I’m flattered. Yes, I am hoping to write a book on the Yii framework. I’ll post updates on that here. I don’t think I’d ever write one on the Zend Framework, though.

  17. Hi Larry,
    Am i right in thinking that to use and access the PayPal pages through https:\\ i would require the sites files to be on a live server(not desktop development), and also require the purchase of a SSL certificate to access https:\\ pages(to and from PayPal).


    • Thanks for your question. It’s not necessary to use a live server and HTTPS to use PayPal as in the book. I know I developed and tested all that on my desktop. The second example, which uses Authorize.net and an IPN script, does require a live site, with SSL.

      • I found that out today by actually doing the chapter. Instead of using HTTPS i just sent as plain HTTP to and from PayPal.

        Thanks Larry.

  18. Larry,

    I am a 21 year old website developer and until i read your book, trying to make a dynamic shopping cart seemed impossible. You have really helped my career, thank you!

  19. I’m getting this error when I run the source code in wamp

    An error occurred in script ‘C:\wamp\www\ex1\html\index.php’ on line 15:
    require(/path/to/dir/mysql.inc.php) [function.require]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory

    • That’s because /path/to/dir probably doesn’t exist on your computer. You need to change that for what’s correct for your computer. By the way, this book does assume complete comfort with PHP and MySQL.

  20. Hi everybody,
    i need help
    i get it in my home
    ‘/home/alanwu/public_html/shop/views/home.html’ à la ligne 14:
    mysqli_num_rows() expects parameter 1 to be mysqli_result, boolean given

    insite my page i have it: if (mysqli_num_rows($r) > 0)

    how to solve that problem, thanks for every answer

    • That’s a fairly common MySQL error that means your query isn’t returning any records. If you need more assistance, please use my support forums.

  21. Dear Larry.

    Just to say thanks for a brilliant book PHP6 and MYSQL5. I got fed up of giving jobs to website builders, who half way through and after being paid for what they had done vanished, went bust or just simply got fed up and left us hanging with no passwords for the server. After a couple of these episodes I decided I would build my own site. After all there must be some books out there that can talk you through the basics. I didn’t have a clue where to start and when I received your book I have to admit I opened it, scratched my head and then put it away. One day I decided I was going to do it, took a bit of getting my head round but the book is easy to follow if you just think about it and take your time.
    One thing that would make life a bit easier would be to write one in English. The American version is fine but statements like “After the period” All very well if you know that a period is a full stop but a little confusing of you don’t. on the other hand by the time I get through your book I will be just right for a holiday in America. I will be able to speak the fluent American.



    • Hello Paul. Thanks for the nice words on the book. I’m glad it was helpful to you and thanks for saying so. I would point out, however, that I did write it in English. English is my native language, you know. ;) Now if you meant that you’d like to see me write using British conventions, I can’t really do that, because A) I don’t know them, and B) then the book would be confusing to the entire American population! But, again, I appreciate the nice words and good luck with your projects. And have a good holiday!

  22. In Effortless E-Commerce you talked about the VPS host you were happy with and said the name could easily be found on your blog/website I have looked all over to no avail. Please provide one or more I can research.

  23. apparently i must like enjoy your works as i just noticed that over half of my extensive library(physical copies and digital) contains your work! With that said have you written any books(or can recommend) that cover social media API’s / integration?

  24. excellent book, I bought this from Amazon and I consider myself lucky to have come across another great author. I already have the new book on my wish list (PHP Advanced and Object-Oriented Programming: Visual QuickPro Guide (3rd Edition) by Larry Ullman). I am a beginner level in PHP, but had no problem understanding the contents because of the detailed explanation.
    Thanks for the good work

  25. I have been following your book in building my website and it’s been a fantastic book ! But is it fine if I use some of the code found your book in building my website. For example the form_functions etc..

  26. hello,
    i have brought your book. i just have one problem.
    there is no user accounts in physical products.

  27. I ‘ve registered but still not able to post a message for guidance

  28. Your book are really good , simple and easy to understand , really help a big step for beginner like me , And used your solution for my first two project … but I facing some little problem , just don’t know where to start off , The problem is about the login system that use session , very simple and easy to understand , but sometime when i forget to log out , and few hour later the system don’t automatic log out , i just not sure how to add this feature to the login system , do you have any ideas?

    • Thank you very much for the nice words. In answer to your question, the automatic logging out will be picked up by garbage collection should your site be busier. Otherwise you need to program for that possibility. If you need help, please use the support forums.

  29. Hello. anyone can help me. How to configuring this:
    define (‘BASE_URI’, ‘/path/to/dir/’);
    define (‘BASE_URL’, ‘www.example.com/’);
    define (‘PDFS_DIR’, BASE_URI . ‘pdfs/’); // Added in Chapter 5.
    define (‘MYSQL’, BASE_URI . ‘mysql.inc.php’);
    I use xampp as webserver in windows. Im newbie in PHP and msql. my friend suggest this book..

    • As it says above the comments form, the support forum is where you should turn for help. Also, this book assumes complete comfort with PHP and MySQL.

  30. i got this error
    An error occurred in script ‘C:\xampp\htdocs\ex1\html\index.php’ on line 15:
    require(/path/to/dir/mysql.inc.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory



    [0] => Array


    [file] => C:\xampp\htdocs\ex1\html\index.php

    [line] => 15

    [function] => my_error_handler

    [args] => Array


  31. got an ERROR in code as require(/path/to/dir/mysql.inc.php) [function.require]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory

    • The “path/to/dir” is clearly a placeholder that you need to replace with an actual value. By the way, the book assumes complete comfort with PHP and MySQL. If you’re not completely comfortable with both (in which case you would probably know that “path/to/dir” won’t work), you’re probably going to have problems with the book’s material.

  32. Awesome book Larry. Would you be coming up with a Geek to English translation for ‘Server setup, configuration and administration’ anytime? : )

    • Thanks, Ashil. I’m glad you liked the book and thanks for saying so. I’m comfortable doing a lot with servers and server administration, but I’m not at a level where I could write a book on the subjects. Thanks for the thought, though!

  33. great jop mr ullman
    i’ve one question : i heard that php will die after few years and languages like python,ruby will take its place , so what is your opinion about that ?
    i’ll extremely appreciate your opinion , thanks a lot

    • To be blunt, anyone that says that PHP will die after a few years, to be replaced with Python, Ruby, and the like, has NO IDEA what they’re talking about. It’s a ridiculous, unsupportable suggestion.

  34. HI Ihave a problem in ex2 that the main page is working fine but other pages are not working.Please tell me the problem, i had changed the Base Url in config file but it is not working.For example when I click on Coffe link in menu then it redirect the page as localhost/shop/coffee and not redirecting to localhost/ex2/html/shop.php.Please tell me the solution.Where i have to declare the directory for these links.

  35. Hi Larry! I really wanted to look into demo of second example (coffee) to finish up before i jump into the second edition of your book. Is there any way i could have a look into it?

  36. Hi Larry, I’d love to make a comment in the support forum, but whatever I do, I can’t get on there. I keep getting the message that ‘No username has been entered’, when I did put in a username – and a correct one. I’m having such major issues with example 2 that I was thinking of just buying the 2nd edition and starting all over, but I’ve tried to access that forum too, but can’t even sign up for a new login. What’s going on? Thanks, Bill

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. “Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL” Chapter 5 Bonus Pages – Larry Ullman - November 2, 2010

    […] The first extra bit represents five pages intended for the end of Chapter 5, “Managing Site Content”. Chapter 5 is the penultimate chapter for the first example site and these pages discuss a number of ways you can alter the example. Some of the extra code and extra SQL discussed in this PDF is already available for download from the book’s pages on this site. […]

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    […] out not to be the case. Largely this newsletter ended up being about my most recent book, “Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL“, and object-oriented programming. I’ve thrown in some answers to questions and other […]

  3. What is Larry Thinking? #35 => Securing Content and More! – Larry Ullman - January 6, 2011

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    […] been writing some articles and blog posts for Peachpit Press’s Web site, all supporting my Effortless E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL book. I’ll post links to them on my Web site, and in future newsletters, as they go […]

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    […] on HTTP pages and provided over HTTPS on HTTPS pages. I wish I had thought to use this when I wrote my e-commerce book (instead of using two different header files)! Sometimes the simple solution is the most brilliant […]

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    […] either “you” or “I”).Books or chapters that are task-based (e.g., my “Effortless E-commerce with PHP and MySQL” book, or the example chapters in many of my books), I start with the complete code and then […]

Comments are great, but I'd strongly prefer any requests for assistance get made in the support forums. Thanks!