Author: Michael Balderas
Aimed at: Web developers
Pros: Helpful diagrams
Cons: Long and repetitive listings, lack of explanation
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
Using PayPal to accept and make payments is an important facility for many websites and so a book that promises to give you an easy way of getting on top of the job is worth having. In this case the book's subtitle: "Up and Running: A Developers Guide" promises to be on the mark.
It has five chapters covering most of what you would want to do with the PayPal API and it does it in only 100 pages of content. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the PayPal API and while there are some nice diagrams there is no deeper discussion of the principles involved. Nor is there any discussion of which API is for you, there advantages and disadvantages and no mention of costs or other issues. You might well say that this is a book for programmers and such issues are for management but if you are working on a small site the owner might well ask you which API is best and this book doesn't help you select the best PayPal option and certainly doesn't discuss any alternatives.
After getting you setup, Chapter 2 moves on to using the Express Checkout API, Chapter 3 deals with the Payments Pro part of the API, Chapter 4 described the adaptive API and Chapter 5 finishes the book with a look a the Mobile Express Checkout API. Y
All of the chapters have the same plus points - the nice diagrams - but they all have the same problem - a lack of explanation or motivation. You might forgive the book this lack if it provided a concise introduction to the API, but most of the chapters are also full of very long and repetitive listings that go on for pages. The listing are only explained by embedded comments so you really might as well go and read some code on line. More to the point the long example are fairly boring and far from being real world solutions - so they really don't serve the purpose of educating you and they don't serve the purpose of being templates.
What is perhaps the final straw is that the PayPal documentation available on the website is actually very good. Its only problem is perhaps there is a little too much of it and it can be difficult to find a starting point that is correct for you. When you compare the book to the online documentation you can see at once that it doesn't add anything. Even the nice diagrams in the book can be found in the online documentation.
At best, this book is a handy printed selection from the online documentation. Even in this role, however, you have to add that its very long listings and lack of any bigger picture makes it of limited value. Only consider buying it if you find the online documentation difficult to navigate.