The First PHP

Just over a year ago I also mentioned that in our shop, we will be transitioning away from ColdFusion. During that time frame, we haven't had any actual new development, mostly working on updates to existing sites, so the transition hasn't really started yet. However, after we deal with one more application update after the holiday break, we will finally be doing some new development. So that project will be our first project using the language of our future: PHP.  Most likely using the Zend PHP server and maybe the framework.  The later part we're less sure on yet as we haven't even decided if we'll do a framework or not, much less which one.

Still, I supposed it means next year I will finally have to actually (re)learn PHP.  These days, language books are fairly pointless, it seems. They are almost outdated as soon as they are printed (or hilariously over anticipated like the PHP 6 book from 2004 I found at Half Price Books the other day).  I know I could just start coding, but that doesn't teach me good or best practices nor how to write secure PHP versus just plain PHP. 

So that leaves online tutorials or classes.  Zend has a tutorial up that seems like an okay place to start, but the formatting makes it a rather bleh read and the writing tone is a bit off-putting. I imagine the content isn't bad, but still, it isn't really making me want to use it.  W3Schools has one as as well, but I have no idea on it's quality or usefulness; it seems more focused on just listing the functions/basic elements though rather than giving any real lessons.  CodeAcademy, which Adam Cameron mentioned for both JavaScript and PHP, is interactive and seems more lesson oriented which is appealing.

So as I return from my NaNo break (I met the 50k mark twice over this year, by the way), I ask you guys…any recommendations for the best ways to learn PHP? Good online tutorials? Classes? Maybe a recent book that is still relevant?