PHP 5 Social Networking by Michael Peacock (Packt Publishing) is a book that takes you through the process of creating a social networking web site written in PHP (preferably at least PHP 5.2.0). It is probably not ideal for beginners just getting into web programming, but if you have at least a little bit of experience it could be a good way to get your feet wet while actually creating some useful code.
The book essentially walks you through the creation of a sample site. You’ll see many of the features you’re familiar with in sites such as FaceBook, if somewhat stripped down without many of the bells and whistles. The author discusses some of the choices and viable alternatives to consider at each point of the process, including deciding how much code to create yourself versus some of the ready-made third-party alternatives to look at (view full table of contents).
If you download the code from the PacktPub.com web site, along with this book you will then essentially have a working framework for a social networking site with full, detailed documentation. While this may be exactly what you need, for my level of ability plus my particular interests at this time, I probably would have been more interested in something that dealt more with the design-level considerations: more class diagrams and discussions of “why” as opposed to specific source code and explanations of “how”. (As a bit of an aside: as far as I can tell, there is only one class in the code base which is ever extended, and there is no use of interfaces or abstract classes. This is not necessarily bad, as they may not always be necessary, but I would think for a project of this size there would have been more inheritance and such in a decent object-oriented design.)
E-book versions in PDF or ePUB formats are available from the publisher. It is not currently available from Amazon.com in a Kindle version (nor do I know if it ever will be), but I was able to convert the ePUB document to MOBI via the Calibre program and view it on my Kindle, though ultimately I find it easier to read such technical books in the paper version.
All in all this seems to be a solid product, perhaps not exactly the sort of thing I might look for, but definitely worth your considertaion if you are thinking about diving into the world of social networking web sites.