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Learning Perl [Paperback]

Randal L. Schwartz , Tom Phoenix , brian d foy

Price: CDN$ 55.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

July 24 2005 0596101058 978-0596101053 Fourth Edition

Learning Perl, better known as "the Llama book", starts the programmer on the way to mastery. Written by three prominent members of the Perl community who each have several years of experience teaching Perl around the world, this edition has been updated to account for all the recent changes to the language up to Perl 5.8.Perl is the language for people who want to get work done. It started as a tool for Unix system administrators who needed something powerful for small tasks. Since then, Perl has blossomed into a full-featured programming language used for web programming, database manipulation, XML processing, and system administration--on practically all platforms--while remaining the favorite tool for the small daily tasks it was designed for. You might start using Perl because you need it, but you'll continue to use it because you love it.Informed by their years of success at teaching Perl as consultants, the authors have re-engineered the Llama to better match the pace and scope appropriate for readers getting started with Perl, while retaining the detailed discussion, thorough examples, and eclectic wit for which the Llama is famous.The book includes new exercises and solutions so you can practice what you've learned while it's still fresh in your mind. Here are just some of the topics covered:

  • Perl variable types
  • subroutines
  • file operations
  • regular expressions
  • text processing
  • strings and sorting
  • process management
  • using third party modules
If you ask Perl programmers today what book they relied on most when they were learning Perl, you'll find that an overwhelming majority will point to the Llama. With good reason. Other books may teach you to program in Perl, but this book will turn you into a Perl programmer.

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"This book can be summed up as a solid introduction to Perl v5.8. There's no quick way to learn a language but finding time to work though this book will put you in good stead. Anyone past the basics of the language would be better off splashing out on "Perl Cookbook " or "Learning Perl". - Greg Matthews, news@UK, September 2005

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be your first book on Perl Aug. 29 2006
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first tried to learn Perl by using the other O'Reilly book, "Programming Perl". I was completely lost. Then I found this book and my second attempt was much more successful. This book is great for self-teaching, and the book chapters should be read in order as each chapter builds on previous ones. Each chapter has plenty of good programming exercises with answers in the back of the book. I review this book in the context of the table of contents.

Chapter 1. Introduction
This chapter answers basic questions such as how to get and install Perl, how to construct a basic Perl program, and then takes you on a whirlwind tour of Perl.

Chapter 2. Scalar Data
As a general rule, when Perl has just one of something, that's a scalar, which is the topic of this chapter.

Chapter 3. Lists and Arrays
If a scalar is the "singular" in Perl, as described at the beginning of Chapter 2, the "plural" in Perl is represented by lists and arrays. A list is an ordered collection of scalars. An array is a variable that contains a list. In Perl, the two terms are often used as if they're interchangeable. But, to be accurate, the list is the data, and the array is the variable. You learn about these differences through practical code examples in this chapter.

Chapter 4. Subroutines
You've now seen and used some of the built-in system functions, such as chomp, reverse, and print. But, as other languages do, Perl has the ability to make subroutines. The name of a subroutine is another Perl identifier occasionally with an optional ampersand in front. There's a rule about when you can omit the ampersand and when you cannot, and that rule is discussed.

Chapter 5. Input and Output
This chapter covers the 80% of the I/O you'll need for most programs. If you're familiar with the workings of standard input, output, and error streams, you're ahead of the game. If not, you get you caught up by the end of this chapter.

Chapter 6. Hashes
In this chapter, you will see a feature that makes Perl one of the world's great programming languages--hashes. Though hashes are a powerful and useful feature, you may have used other powerful languages for years without ever hearing of hashes. But you'll use hashes in nearly every Perl program you'll write from now on; they're that important.

A hash is a data structure like an array, in that it can hold any number of values and retrieve these values at will. However, instead of indexing the values by number, as in arrays, you look up the values by name. That is, the indices aren't numbers but are arbitrary unique strings.

Chapter 7. In the World of Regular Expressions
Perl has many features that set it apart from other languages. Of all those features, one of the most important is its strong support for regular expressions. These allow fast, flexible, and reliable string handling. But that power comes at a price. Regular expressions are tiny programs in their own special language, built inside Perl. This means that you're about to learn another programming language, although, fortunately, it's a simple one. In this chapter, you'll visit the world of regular expressions, where, for the most part, you can forget about the world of Perl.

Chapter 8. Matching with Regular Expressions
In the previous chapter, you visited the world of regular expressions. Now you'll see how that world fits into the world of Perl.

Chapter 9. Processing Text with Regular Expressions
You can use regular expressions to change text, too. So far, the book has only shown you how to match a pattern. Now, you'll learn how to use patterns to locate the parts of strings that you want to change.

Chapter 10. More Control Structures
In this chapter, you'll see some alternative ways to write Perl code. For the most part, these techniques don't make the language more powerful, but they make it easier or more convenient to get the job done. You don't have to use these techniques in your own code, but don't skip this chapter. You're certain to see these control structures in other people's code, sooner or later.

Chapter 11. File Tests
Earlier, this book showed how to open a filehandle for output. Normally, that will create a new file, wiping out any existing file with the same name. Perhaps you want to check that there isn't a file by that name. Perhaps you need to know how old a given file is, or perhaps you want to go through a list of files to find which ones are larger than a certain number of bytes and not accessed for a certain amount of time. Perl has a complete set of tests you can use to find information about files, and that is the topic of this chapter.

Chapter 12. Directory Operations
The files created in the previous chapter were generally in the same place as your program. But modern operating systems let you organize files into directories, allowing you to keep your MP3 files away from your important work files so you don't accidentally send an MP3 file to your boss. In this chapter you'll see how Perl lets you manipulate these directories directly, in ways that are even fairly portable from one operating system to another.

Chapter 13. Strings and Sorting
Perl is designed to be good at solving programming problems that are about 90% working with text and 10% everything else. So it's no surprise that Perl has strong text-processing abilities, including all that can be done with regular expressions. But sometimes the regular expression engine is too fancy, and you need a simpler way of working with a string, as you'll see in this chapter.

Chapter 14. Process Management
One of the best parts of being a programmer is launching someone else's code so you don't have to write it yourself. This chapter shows how to manage your child processes by launching other programs directly from Perl. The examples in this chapter are primarily Unix-based; if you have a non-Unix system, expect to see some differences.

Chapter 15. Perl Modules
There is a lot more to Perl than what is in this book, and there are a lot of people doing a lot of interesting things with Perl. If there is a problem to solve, then somebody has probably already solved it and made their solution available on the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN), which is a worldwide collection of servers and mirrors containing thousands of modules of reusable Perl code. If you want to learn how to write modules, consult the "Alpaca book". In this chapter, you learn how to use modules that already exist.

Chapter 16. Some Advanced Perl Techniques
The techniques in this chapter are only "advanced" in the sense that they aren't necessary for beginners. The first time you read this book, you may want to either skip or skim this chapter so you can get right to using Perl. Then come back to it later when you're ready to get more out of Perl.

Appendix A - Exercise Answers
Appendix B - Beyond the Llama
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Introduction into Another Language March 22 2007
By J. Brutto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book hoping to gain insight into Perl after having experience with C, C++ and Java. I came back with not only a wonderful, base knowledge of the principals of Perl, but came out with some other skills as well.

This books provides a wonderful, quick, easy read for beginners and pros alike. The knowledge of the language coupled with the coverage of core concepts, methodology, practices and practical programmatic thinking was a delight to read/review.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep it handy! April 30 2007
By I. Momcheva - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have owned this book for a couple of years now and I keep it on a bookshelf an arms reach away. It spends most of the time on my desk anyways. The book is excellent for beginners - I knew nothing of Perl when I bought it. I used it as a textbook and spent about a week reading through the chapters and doing the excercises. I've used it as a reference ever since. It really only covers basic Perl topic - there is a brief mention of databases at the end and two mentions of references in the whole book, but as a tutorial I certainly recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Aug. 11 2007
By deoren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, this book is only the beginning. It does teach the basics including arrays, scalars, functions and many other topics that are central to a basic understanding of Perl. It also covers regular expressions which aside from the great swatch of modules is one of Perl's greatest strengths.

Because of that and the teaching style this book earns the 5 star rating.

Toward the end it hints at some of the other 'required' topics such as references, modules and objects. After you've read this book get a copy of Intermediate Perl to read up on those topics.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for learning, regardless of your background. Aug. 6 2005
By R. Dlugy-Hegwer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One highly ranked reviewer exaggerates that this book is only loved by expert Unix gurus and then steers you toward another title. Check the other reviews for yourself and you'll see this is a falsehood.

While Perl has its origins as the 'toolbox for Unix', this book is great for students learning Perl on ANY platform. I've been using the examples in this edition with the ActiveState distribution (available for AIX, HP-UX, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris and Windows) on Windows and haven't had a single OS-related snag.

After trying several Perl books, all good mind you, this one's explanations, examples and exercises helped me finally get past Perl's reputation as a 'hairy' language and understand its beauty and efficiency for getting things done. It's clear from the quality of this book, that the authors have fine-tuned the content based on their years of experience teaching Perl, which they love.

I hope you use Amazon's "Look Inside" feature or browse a printed copy to decide which book is best for you.

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