Book Review: Building Flickr Applications with PHP

October 26, 2006
Building Flickr Applications using PHPPHP, one of the most popular server side scripting languages has become the de facto standard in developing many of the high traffic websites around the world. Not surprisingly, many projects have grown around this language which aids the web developer to integrate more and more third party products by way of maps, imaging applications and more into the website. Flickr is one of the most popular photo sharing web application which heralded the dawn of the Web 2.0. It allows one to easily upload, manage and share photos online with others. And Yahoo (the current owners of Flickr) have released a set of open APIs which allow any web developer to seamlessly integrate Flickr on their websites.

The book "Building Flickr Applications with PHP" authored by Rob Kunkle and Andrew Morton is a unique book which aims to lessen the learning curve associated with developing Flickr applications with PHP. The book, all of 9 chapters spanning around 200 pages is targeted at photographers, bloggers and web designers who would like to make greater use of the photos they have stored in their Flickr account.

To integrate Flickr on ones website, it is imperative to first have a good feel of the Flickr interface. In the first two chapters, the authors give a sound understanding of the Flickr interface. We get to know about different ways by which it is possible to categorize the photos and understand the Flickr terminology such as tags, sets and groups, ways in which you can post Flickr photos on to your blog right from the Flickr interface and more. These two chapters give a sound understanding of the core functionality of Flickr.

Phlickr is an open source PHP 5 library which acts as an interface between the PHP based website and the Yahoo Flickr API. This book uses this library to integrate Flickr with ones websites. The third chapter of this book walks one through the installation and configuration of Apache web server, PHP and Phlickr API on ones machine.

In the fourth chapter the authors give a brief run down of the essential PHP syntax which will help a PHP beginner to brush up his knowledge in the language.

It is only from the 5th chapter onwards that one is introduced to the meat of the topic. In this chapter, with the aid of example code, the authors explain how to display a Flickr photo and all its properties on ones website coded using PHP. This chapter also introduces two Phlickr library classes Phlickr_Photo and Phlickr_AuthedPhoto which play an important role in displaying the photos from Flickr website.

The next chapter titled "Getting Organized: Working with Flickr Photo Sets" is an extension of the previous chapter where in one gets to know how to organize the photos using sets and groups. What is interesting is that each section in this chapter is a how to do it section which contain the desired PHP code with an explanation of how it works.

Chapter 7 reveals another dimension to this whole project by introducing the simpleXML - the PHP 5 interface which allows one to easily search through and find data from an XML file. This chapter also explains how to access the Flickr tags, search through them, and even assign new tags while uploading the photos to the Flickr website all this using PHP.

RSS feeds and syndication form the basis for the 8th chapter. RSS is a lightweight XML schema which allows websites to present structured data about content they have posted. This chapter analyzes the different types of RSS such as the ver 1.0, 2.0 and the atom XML.

The last chapter solves tasks such as batch adding of photos to Flickr account, searching and displaying the group photos, showing a random photo from a particular group, displaying the RSS data in a user readable format, showing the latest photos from a group and so on.

Book Specifications
Name : Building Flickr Applications with PHP
ISBN : 1-59059-612-9
Authors : Rob Kunkle & Andrew Morton
Publishers : Apress
No. of Pages: 200
Price : Check the latest price at Amazon Store or compare prices.
Rating: Very Good
Category: Beginner to advanced. Good buy for bloggers and personal website owners who would like to integrate their Flickr photos seamlessly on to their websites.

This is a nice book which explains how to integrate one of the most popular Web 2.0 successes - namely Flickr - seamlessly into ones website using PHP. Even though the book is relatively small and concentrates on a niche topic, the authors have done a pretty good job of walking through all the necessary steps in a precise and clear manner.