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Perl in a Nutshell Paperback – Dec 11 1998
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Perl in a Nutshell strives to be a perfect set of socket tools for the active Perl programmer. By and large, it succeeds, providing endless and well-thought-out lists and tables on the language's modules, flags, and extensions. The authors briefly address basic learner's questions--such as the difference between a hash and an array--but these concepts are not the purpose of the book. (Those new to Perl would be better off with others in the O'Reilly Perl series, such as Learning Perl, while programmers making the switch to Perl can pick up the nuances of the language with Programming Perl.) This book is pure Perl reference, briefly covering Perl/Tk (for GUI Perl programs on Unix and Windows 95/NT) and Perl for Win 32.
The authors do start at the very beginning, and even in a self-described "desktop quick reference" find the time to comment on less urgent--but still interesting--Perl-related matters (like how to find online help amidst the "Perl culture"). The format of the book makes sections on topics such as Perl debugging easily understandable, illustrating how to make an interactive and timesaving environment.
Of particular convenience is the outstanding section on the standard Perl modules. A four-page "quick look" allows you to easily scan through short definitions of all the modules and find the entry you're looking for. An index with full definitions for each module follows, showing you how to use each module and providing a more in-depth explanation (and often, examples). Perl in a Nutshell concludes--as you might expect--with an excellent and well-cross-referenced index. --Jennifer Buckendorff
"In a nutshell, Perl is designed to make the easy jobs easy, without making the hard jobs impossible." -- Larry Wall, creator of Perl --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book does have an excellent section on installing Perl including installation on both the Unix and Windows platforms. I've worked with both platforms and the installation process is well documented including how to install modules. This brings us to the large chapter on getting and installing Perl modules. I have spent hours sometimes trying to find an appropriate module for a special situation. This chapter lists all the most common modules and includes descriptions of what they do. This alone makes it a valuable resource for anyone involved in Perl.
The authors also include a lot of technical information including command line options and environment variables as well as a section on program structure, data types, special variables, operators, expressions, subroutines, filehandles, and just about anything else that you might need a quick refresher on.
Functions are listed both by category and by alphabetical order with descriptions and syntax information. I had a couple of problems on a large project recently and it took three days to get an answer through the forums on the Internet. The answers to all of them are right here and I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had had this book then.Read more ›
Let me give you an example: I was poring over a (slightly) complicated regular expression, trying to figure out what was going on...there seemed no rhyme or reason to it.....there were way too many spaces and yet the pattern was matching!! I then noticed the "x" option on the end of it: /reg-ex/x Thinking this could be the culprit, I broke out Perl:NUTSHELL...I found the appropriate table and it said: this option used to Enable Extended regular expressions. Ah-ha! But wait, what are Extended regular Epressions, and what is the deal with all these extra spaces in my reg-ex? I forwarded a bit and found the section about Extended Regular Expressions. And I found.........nothing. As it turns out (after looking in the Camel), the "x" means that all whitespace in the pattern is ignored, hence all the darn spaces. I made a point to look (again) for this bit of syntactic info in Perl:NUTSHELL, and it is not there. So what is the use of this book then, considering it is missing such a BASIC SYNTAX rule? Good question.
Another gripe: where's the freakin examples? While I don't expect NUTSHELL books to EXPLAIN the examples tutorial style, I do expect some basic usage examples to help me with commands I havn't used (again, see Unix in a Nutshell)!!
Another quick example for you Perl non-gurus (like myself): I came upon the Perl "filetest" operator "-t"....but the test had no following argument (e.g. the file's name), so I was confused. Off to the Nutshell. Oops.Read more ›
After an introduction to CPAN (online perl archive) and installing perl, the basic constructs of the language are explained in reasonable (for programmers) detail - data types, statements, special vars, operators, regex, subroutines, pod and the perl debugger. Some of it reads like a tutorial rather than reference, using paragraphs where tables would suit, slowing down ability to access info.
On advanced topics such as object orientation (3 pages), it faded into "throw a few paragraphs together". Occasional usage notes (e.g. anonymous subroutines for closures) would have been nice too.
A full function reference and alphabetised list of standard modules is given, with specific sections on databases, network programming, perl/tk, CGI and win32. With the exception of the CGI section (maybe thanks to its duplication in _Webmaster In A Nutshell_) they are usually little more than a list of methods/subroutines.
I'd advise buying the Camel book, and sticking to the online docs for modules and functions.
1) Less than 2 pages devoted to object oriented perl. I realize that probably less than 20% of all perl people will ever write anything object oriented, but I'm find OO essential for breaking down complicated problems.
2) Missing library calls; for example, in the DBI library: prepare_cached, connect_on_init really do exist.
3) Incomplete documentation of each and every library call; what are the possible values of an attribute hash? You better RTM, because usually you won't find it here.
4) Inconsistent documentation of library calls: sometimes they tell you what type the function wants, and sometimes they don't.
5) Lack of example usage in the libraries.
This is not nitpicky stuff. A comprehensive reference book should answer the purpose at least 60% of the time, or it becomes a waste of time. But, if you use this book first, you will *still* have to look at the documentation or another book, guaranteed.
This book bears all the hallmarks of having been hurriedly compiled from information available online, without expert review, and poorly edited. I realize documentation is a boring thankless task (better than Sominex for me), but nevertheless this book does not hit the mark.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a handy reference, but if you have a limited budget you should probably go with Programming Perl and the Perl Cookbook before this one. Read morePublished on Dec 13 2003 by Jack D. Herrington
I am not a beginning programmer nor am I what you would call an expert. Having a background in PHP made Perl easy to learn, so I didn't need a book that would "teach"... Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2002 by J. Trelfa
This book is full of alphabetical high level descriptions (which are always ambiguous) of Perl language statements with few or no illustrative examples (which always help clear up... Read morePublished on July 24 2002 by Kenneth J. Freed
This book consists of a 150-page Perl manpage, plus a big, fat catalog of Perl packages. It's great for finding out what's available, but once you've spotted your prey and want to... Read morePublished on May 1 2001 by Thomas Hundt
Simaply the best reference book for Perl, I highly recommend this book to new users. Over all this is a nice book to read and I recommend this to all of my collegues and friends.Published on Sept. 11 2000 by S. Ng
Like all of the "Nutshell" series, this book is a detailed language reference with little or no "how to" value. Read morePublished on March 2 2000 by J. E. S.
Like the other books in the O'Reilly Nutshell series, this is a very good desktop reference to have around. However, I have some small gripes with the book. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2000 by Douglas Welzel
If you want a quick reference, try the CD on for size, speed, and thoroughness.Published on Nov. 29 1999
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