But there is a fine line between simple and simplistic. In an effort to convey the live look-and-feel code development environment, the Maran designers depict the "pico" editor window around every code snippet, and pico's own interface becomes synonymous with Perl by the third example. Moreover, the editors underestimate newbie user interface experience when they remind the user to "position the cursor" in certain locations before typing the next segment of the demonstration code, even after 16 chapters. Code annotation is graphically stimulating but conceptually mundane throughout.
The Maran group succeeds in hitting Perl's most important high points in its 285-page jaunt across the language. Examples for variable dereferencing, making and using Perl modules, building dynamic Web interaces, accessing databases, and designing for the CGI server-side Web interface are all included. The accompanying CD-ROM contains Perl 5.6 distribution for Unix, ActivePerl for Windows platforms, a pdf e-copy of the text itself, and a variety of extras. --Peter Leopold