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Perl: The Programmer's Companion [Paperback]

Nigel Chapman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 7 1997 047197563X 978-0471975632
Perl The Programmer's Companion Nigel Chapman Perl is a powerful and flexible programming language. A programmer can easily put together short Perl programs to perform tasks that might otherwise require hours of development effort from a team of specialists-and it's free! Perl is different in many ways from more conventional languages, and programmers who are used to Java, C or C++ can find its syntax and data types unusual. The Programmer's Companion is intended to show such programmers the power of Perl and to introduce them to its unique features. Clearly flagged comparisons with other languages help relate Perl's features to familiar territory. Written in a clear and approachable style, the author's account of Perl is informed by his extensive knowledge of other programming languages. The book includes:
* a description of new Perl5 language extensions and characteristics such as the object-oriented features
* live, up-and-running programming examples based on real Perl scripts
* an introduction to the use of modules which extend the power of Perl into many application areas
* using Perl on the Web
* pointers to Perl resources on the Web
The Programmer's Companion is not exclusive to Unix users, but presents Perl as a language that can ease the programmer's burden, no matter what system it is used on. Visit our website at http://www.wiley.com/compbooks/ ??? This book is arranged in an innovative way: rather than introduce the language keyword by keyword, it introduces "template" programs that make use of Perl's neat pattern features and implicit arguments. This way, even at the beginning, you can get useful programs running rather than just printing "Hello world" various numbers of times . ??? The Programmer's Companion fills the niche for a Perl language learning book aimed at the programmer who wants a solid book, to teach the language, which (1) doesn't hand-hold too much, and (2) covers most of the more advanced features of the language.

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From Amazon

There are now a number of good Perl books available, but this excellent contribution stands out in a number of ways (apart from the rarity that it's not from O'Reilly). The most significant way may be that Perl's computer-scientist author advocates the use of Perl as a full-fledged programming language in addition to recommending its use for system administration or CGI programs.

This book is a fine introduction to Perl for experienced C, C++, and Java programmers. Perl has plenty of sidebars that explain the differences between Perl and these other languages and how Perl can help you overcome the limitations of these languages.

Chapman starts off with language basics, but instead of listing all the basic constructs and introducing the obligatory "Hello, world!" program, he introduces you to what he terms "programming idioms." This thought-provoking approach gradually eases you into learning the basic Perl constructs without presenting you with dry examples and tables of potentially confusing information. By the time you realize what's going on, it's too late: you've already learned something. The book has some great chapters, and it even describes how to scope variables correctly (apparently no mean feat, since few tutorials get it right).

The advanced chapters on references and objects really shine. Examples of objects lead you through a logical progression from project visualization to finished product. The author then assists you in creating a set of modules that calculate taxes for a small town, where different rates exist for business and residential buildings. Here, the guide introduces and explains several key concepts for Perl object manipulation.

The examples in the book make sense and, best of all, they are original and have real-world relevance. When explaining pack() and unpack(), the author creates a wonderful example of parsing the headers of a MIDI file to gather track data and then process the individual tracks of the file. While the book does not pack the heft of some Perl tomes (it only contains 273 pages), it's crammed with great examples and ideas. In short, Perl: The Programmer's Companionis a great addition to any Perl programmer's library.

From the Publisher

An introduction to the latest version of Perl. With the increase in Web-based technology, Perl has become the language of choice for creating CGI applications, an essential process for creating large Web pages. This book introduces the latest version, Perl5, to programmers, illustrating the language's strengths and weaknesses. It teaches programmers how to write sophisticated Perl scripts and covers all of the new benefits of Perl5, including improved reusability and enhanced object-oriented programming support.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read, useful reference June 1 1999
Nigel Chapman has an awesome talent for conveying material clearly and concisely. In just 273 pages, you will learn all the basics and then some. Chapman copiously supplants his dictatorial, amusing content with practical examples. The tables dispersed throughout the book add to its value as a reference, and I've found them extremely useful on many occasions.
Be aware, however, that this book will confuse you in no time if you're not already familiar with another programming language. He doesn't start with the classic "Hello, world!" example but quickly jumps into regular expressions, and he doesn't go out of his way to explain concepts like arrays and objects before teaching their syntax. Chapman concludes with overviews of some useful modules and CGI programming (both sections are somewhat outdated by now, though).
My criticisms of this book are that its layout is somewhat primitive (this is not exactly a pretty book), and Chapman is afraid to venture too far into anything that's even slightly OS-dependent, like sockets and database programming (not included in his overview of modules). In my version, there also aren't any exercises at the end of the chapters.
Overall, however, this book is PERFECT for you if you're somewhat literate (in at least one programming language and in the English language) and would like to learn Perl as quickly as possible. Highly recommended. And unlike whatever reviewers have suggested, I think it makes a lovely reference, too.
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By A Customer
When I bought "Perl: The Programmer's Companion", I had a number of others books on Perl already, among which the well-known "Camel book" ("Programming Perl" by Larry Wall et al.). None of those books satisfied me: they were written by people more good at writing smart programs than understandable manuals.
"Perl: The Programmer's Companion" belongs to an higher class: the class of book written by talented, professional teachers. In this book, every single feature of Perl is clearly explained in detail. You can find simple, clear, meaningful and reusable examples of every element of the language. The book is clearly structured and it is easy to find what you need.
The author demonstrates a clear understanding of the human learning process, besides a clear dominance of the Perl language. You can follow him trustfully and relaxed: he will tell you what you need to know, without overloading and confusing you with irrelevant details.
If you are looking for your first (and last) book on Perl, this is the best you can find on the market.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for learning Perl if you are literate Aug. 5 1999
By A Customer
One of the other reviewers (who gave the book only 2 stars) complained: >The wording was difficult to interpret. It seemed as if it was written for someone in their fourth year of college at Harvard University (which sort of an exagerration, but it did seem like that at times).<
The reviewer may not realize that the author is British. The British generally seem to be more articulate than Americans, so the language reflects that difference.
That aside, this book is a good choice for new Perl programmers, in that it is less "techie", although it still has some real substance to it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sound content let down by layout and design Jan. 15 1999
The book has interesting things to say, and explains a number of tricky Perlisms quite nicely (e.g. eval() for exception handling).
Sadly, the design, typography and layout of the book are average, with confusing diagrams, poor choice of fonts, and some silly iconography.
The result is that this book is a worthwhile front to back read, but as a reference or 'companion' you would be better off with 'Effective Perl Programming'.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, lucid text Sept. 30 1998
Moderately experienced and seasoned Perl programmers looking for another book to contemplate on their way toward Perl mastery can't go wrong with this one. Nigel's prose is thoughtful and clear, and so is his Perl. And what do you know, the book is beautifully typeset as well! A little offbeat at times, but on the other hand it's helpful to experience a fresh new viewpoint. Useful and highly recommended.
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Perl The Programmer's Companion is a great book for experienced programmers who want to learn Perl. While the camel book is the "must-have" reference, it really doesn't teach Perl programming. Chapman explains how to use Perl effectively, along with the language's subtleties and nuances. He also devotes some effort in describing good Perl programming style.
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