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Perl for Web Site Management [Paperback]

John Callender
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 52.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2001 1565926471 978-1565926479 1

Checking links, batch editing HTML files, tracking users, and writing CGI scripts--these are the often tedious daily tasks that can be done much more easily with Perl, the scripting language that runs on almost all computing platforms. If you're more interested in streamlining your web activities than in learning a new programming language, Perl for Web Site Management is for you: it's not so much about learning Perl as it is about using Perl to do common web chores more efficiently.The secret is that, although becoming a Perl expert may be hard, most Perl scripts are relatively simple. Using Perl and other open source tools, you'll learn how to:

  • Incorporate a simple search engine
  • Write a simple CGI gateway
  • Convert multiple text files into HTML
  • Monitor log files
  • Track users as they navigate your site
Even if you don't have any programming background, this book will get you quickly past Perl's seemingly forbidding barrier of chops and chomps, execs and elsifs. You'll be able to put an end to using clunky tools, editing files tediously by hand, or relying on programmers and system administrators to do "the hard stuff" for you. Sure, you might learn a little bit about programming as well, and perhaps something about the role of open source tools on the Web. But the purpose of Perl for Web Site Management isn't to educate you--it's to empower you. Whether you're a developer, a designer, or simply a dabbler on the Web, this book is the plain-English, hands-on introduction to Perl you've been waiting for.

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Product Description

From the Publisher

Learn to do everyday tasks on your web site using Perl--even if you have no programming background. Perl for Web Site Management shows how to write CGI scripts, incorporate search engines, convert multiple text files to HTML, monitor log files, and track visitors to your site. Whether you're a developer, a designer, or simply a dabbler on the Web, this is the hands-on introduction to Perl you've been waiting for

About the Author

John Callender is an independent consultant specializing in web development. He has been a teacher, writer, editor, and network administrator.


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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
First things first. This isn't the book that I thought it was going to be. I was expecting to read a book that taught experienced programmers some Perl tricks that made it easier to manage a web site - something like a companion piece to O'Reilly's Perl for System Administration by David Blank-Edelman. Turns out that's not what this book is at all.
Instead, it's an introduction to Perl for someone who runs a web site and decides that they need to take their computer knowledge to the next level and learn some programming skills. Callender calls these people "accidental programmers" and he is very understanding of their needs having been one himself only a few years ago.
So immediately this book has a completely different target audience to the majority of O'Reilly's Perl books. It's competing against all the brightly coloured books with titles like Perl for Morons or Learn Perl in 30 Seconds. These books are, almost without exception, written by people with minimal Perl knowledge, to it should come as no surprise that Callender's book is vastly superior to all of them.
The first major advantage that this book has is that it doesn't simply try to sell Perl as "the CGI language". Callender is at pains to point out that Perl can be useful for any number of other tasks involved in running a web site. Very early on we are looking at updating the links in an HTML file using regular expressions (and there's even a discussion on the fragility of this approach and pointers to better solutions using CPAN modules). A little later on we are looking at writing reports on web site hits by parsing the access logs. This is the kind of work that Perl excels at - the fact that you can you use the same language to write CGI programs as well should be seen as a bonus.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for learning Perl! Jan. 11 2002
Format:Paperback
If you are just beginning to learn Perl and want to know where to go after O'Reilly's Learning Perl, this is the book for you. There is nothing like seeing Perl do useful things, AND understanding how it works, to get excited about using a new programming language.
Perl, being such a great first language, is useful right away. The author's clear and amusing style allows for easy reading and quick results. Wait until you complete chapter six and watch as directories fill up with well-formed HTML pages generated from multiple text files and you'll be hooked on this book, and Perl too!
Geared towards a beginner or mid-level programmer with lots of useful code samples. A very good book.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Web Designers New to Perl Jan. 18 2002
Format:Paperback
Although the title gave the impression that it would cover very complex web-mastering techniques, the book actually is an excellent introduction to extending your website's usefulness by using Perl. Web designers that have conquered Javascript, and maybe explored some proprietary server-side techniques would benefit greatly from this clearly written task-based tutorial.
I would recommend the reader pickup Learning Perl and/or CGI Programming with Perl as well. They compliment each other well!
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent perl problem solving tool. April 15 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The author does an excellent job of walking you through just some of the things you can do with Perl to automate web management.
Very well written, enjoyable and easy to comprehend.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to Perl for "Accidental" Programmers July 19 2002
By David Cross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
First things first. This isn't the book that I thought it was going to be. I was expecting to read a book that taught experienced programmers some Perl tricks that made it easier to manage a web site - something like a companion piece to O'Reilly's Perl for System Administration by David Blank-Edelman. Turns out that's not what this book is at all.
Instead, it's an introduction to Perl for someone who runs a web site and decides that they need to take their computer knowledge to the next level and learn some programming skills. Callender calls these people "accidental programmers" and he is very understanding of their needs having been one himself only a few years ago.
So immediately this book has a completely different target audience to the majority of O'Reilly's Perl books. It's competing against all the brightly coloured books with titles like Perl for Morons or Learn Perl in 30 Seconds. These books are, almost without exception, written by people with minimal Perl knowledge, to it should come as no surprise that Callender's book is vastly superior to all of them.
The first major advantage that this book has is that it doesn't simply try to sell Perl as "the CGI language". Callender is at pains to point out that Perl can be useful for any number of other tasks involved in running a web site. Very early on we are looking at updating the links in an HTML file using regular expressions (and there's even a discussion on the fragility of this approach and pointers to better solutions using CPAN modules). A little later on we are looking at writing reports on web site hits by parsing the access logs. This is the kind of work that Perl excels at - the fact that you can you use the same language to write CGI programs as well should be seen as a bonus.
As I mentioned before, Callender is not a programmer by training (this is sometimes obvious from his code examples) but he has obviously learned from good sources. He encourages all the good habits that are missing from most of his competitors books - all of his examples use -w and use strict and all of CGI programs are written using CGI.pm. There's even a far more detailed explaination of the importance of security and taint mode than I've seen in any book aimed at this audience. Another bonus is the discussion of the necessity and mechanics of file locking.
Another topic that often missing from beginners books is the huge library of ready-written Perl modules called the CPAN. Many authors seem to think that this concept is beyond their audience and thereby many newcomers to Perl never discover this treasure chest and spend their entire programming life studiously reinventing wheels unnecessarily. Callender has no time for this point of view and in the middle of chapter 11 he has use downloading and installing modules from CPAN. This approach is bound to lead to more productive Perl programmers.
I mentioned that Callender was himself an accidental programmer. This means that the chapters are full of anecdotes of the kind of problems he experienced when first starting to program in Perl. As well as learning about programming in general, Perl and CGI, most of the book's target audience will be Windows or Mac users who have no knowledge of Unix and, in most cases, that's the operating system that their web server will be running on. Once again, Callender has already made this journey and he proves to be a most able guide.
So, all in all, I think this is a great book. If you're thinking that you need to learn some Perl in order to add CGI programs to your web site, then please consider this book before any of the other beginners Perl and CGI books. You'll end up with a much better understanding after reading this book. But this leads me to my only problem with the book. I'm really not convinced that the people who are in the target audience will pick up this book when they are browsing in a bookstore. I think that O'Reilly books are seen as being for experts and I also think that the title doesn't explain the contents of the book very well.
I could, of course, be wrong. I hope I am.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for learning Perl! Jan. 11 2002
By another amazon shopper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are just beginning to learn Perl and want to know where to go after O'Reilly's Learning Perl, this is the book for you. There is nothing like seeing Perl do useful things, AND understanding how it works, to get excited about using a new programming language.
Perl, being such a great first language, is useful right away. The author's clear and amusing style allows for easy reading and quick results. Wait until you complete chapter six and watch as directories fill up with well-formed HTML pages generated from multiple text files and you'll be hooked on this book, and Perl too!
Geared towards a beginner or mid-level programmer with lots of useful code samples. A very good book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Web Designers New to Perl Jan. 18 2002
By Roy Staples - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although the title gave the impression that it would cover very complex web-mastering techniques, the book actually is an excellent introduction to extending your website's usefulness by using Perl. Web designers that have conquered Javascript, and maybe explored some proprietary server-side techniques would benefit greatly from this clearly written task-based tutorial.
I would recommend the reader pickup Learning Perl and/or CGI Programming with Perl as well. They compliment each other well!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but mis-describes the target audience July 29 2004
By W. R. Glover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a very experienced programmer, and familiar with Perl already, but not CGI programming, I found this book to be useful for its coverage of the necessary aspects in preparing and managing a website. Callender provides a good example, he writes well, and covers a lot of material in the 21 chapters.

The text correctly guides you through much of the arcana of developing CGIs with Perl. I will keep the book nearby as I prepare my own web site.

However, throughout the time I was reading the book, I had a deep suspicion that the self-described target audience of "Accidental programmer" would find this book far too fast paced or insufficient in background material. I got a sense that this book preaches to the already-converted. True beginners or non-programmer web developers should first work through introductory texts such as "Learning Perl". Also, almost no discussion of debugging beyond a few early pages. An approach to debug some of the ambitious scripts presented would be useful.

The basic treatment through most of the chapters is to present a scenario, provide an initial script, then discuss the elements line by line. Then improve on it, and present the new, more detailed script. This method of exposition struck me as very repetitious, with lots of pages filled with similar looking scripts--each one with the statement: "Like all the examples in this book, you can download it from the book's web site, ...".

My opinion of how best to use the book is to identify a task that is similar to an example in the book, and try to work through it on your own. Have the book and example source code at hand for reference, along with a copy of "Learning Perl", "Programming Perl", "Official Guide to Programming with CGI.pm", and/or the "Perl Cookbook".

Useful insights I got from the book:

1. Use the perldoc pages for in depth explanation of perl functions and concepts.

2. How to use the regex substitution operator with matching brackets and expressions

(i.e. the s{ pattern }{ code; }gex form)

3. Nice how-to-do-it section on basic http authentication and a form-based registration system.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent perl problem solving tool. April 15 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author does an excellent job of walking you through just some of the things you can do with Perl to automate web management.
Very well written, enjoyable and easy to comprehend.
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