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Pro Perl Paperback – Mar 25 2005
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About the Author
Peter Wainwright is a developer and software engineer specializing in Perl, Apache, and other open-source projects. He got his first taste of programming on a BBC Micro and gained most of his early programming experience writing applications in C on Solaris. He then discovered Linux, shortly followed by Perl and Apache, and has been happily programming there ever since. When he is not engaged in development or writing books, Wainwright spends much of his free time maintaining the Space Future website at www.spacefuture.com. He is an active proponent of commercial passenger space travel and cofounded Space Future Consulting, an international space tourism consultancy firm.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Programmers who already have some experience in Perl will discover things they didn't know in the chapters that follow, but can nonetheless safely skip this introduction."
I remember thinking that was a bit cheeky. I'm no Perl expert, and I'm sure that there will always be things I could learn, but still: that just felt a little boastful to me.
Well, I hadn't even got half-way through the third chapter before I realized how wrong I was. I kept muttering "Really?" while switching away to test something I just hadn't known before. That surprised me (pleasantly, of course).
I wish I had this when I first picked up the Camel Book. The Camel Book's author's are just too smart and too clever: I didn't understand most of their Perlish puns and witticisms when I first read it, and still find many of them difficult to grasp today. Peter Wainwright, however, puts things out the way I like to learn, with sensible and illuminating examples that really demonstrate what's happening, and he takes the extra time to explain it in plain English too (and that's why there are so many pages in this book).
The danger for someone like me in a book like this is the natural tendency to skip quickly through what you think you already know. If you've been dabbling in Perl for a few years as I have, there WILL be a lot you already know, but as the author promised, there's also plenty that you probably don't. I picked up quite a few useful bits in almost every chapter and have promised myself to go back and re-read to find the things I shouldn't have skipped over.
In the review copy I read, there still were some unfortunate typos that might confuse someone completely new to Perl. I hope those will be fixed before the actual publication. None of them bothered me, but they could be bad for someone starting with no experience at all.
Why? Why couldn't this be the 'Pro' book the title describes. This is hardly pro at all. CPAN is given very short shrift. And in general, it's just a rehash of the topics covered in Programming Perl. And Programming Perl is the definitive source.
I'm really not sure why this book was necessary. It does have a different style than Programming Perl. It's a little less jocular and a little more mechanical. Reminiscent of books on Java, C# and Python. It is well written and illustrated.
I'm giving this four stars because I think it will work better for some folks than Programming Perl. Though I think everyone should start with Programming Perl.
While it is still possible to program using much of early Perl, this book's aim is to educate you as to the new material. Yes, Perl's scope is now impressive. What with a comprehensive regexp, bidirectional pipes, Unicode and more. How much of this to take in from the book is up to you. Thankfully, the chapters seem mostly independent of each other. So at this level, you have random access, which means you don't have to read all of the book. Each chapter, however, has a strong narrative sense of progress. You should read a desired chapter end to end.
A little irony here. Remember claims by some early proponents of Perl that you could skip the complexity of C++'s STL, for example? Or, more recently, to avoid the bulking up of the class packages in standard Java. Perl now has the same symptoms of success.
In Pro Perl, the author takes you through an in-depth analysis of the Perl language from the beginning topics up to advanced topics (including a relatively new one for Perl, Object Oriented programming). Many Perl books have a habit of either showing you the basics, and leaving you yearning for more; or showing you advanced topics that you are left scratching your head wondering "How did they jump from A to Z with no in-between"? In Pro Perl the author has taken an approach of explaining the concepts and walking you through the introduction and leading you to the more advanced topics without breaking it into distinct pieces of beginning, novice, etc. The book can be considered more of a instructional reference manual more than a code-snippet type book, which many programming books are nowadays.
One of the benefits this book offers is that throughout the book there are multiple reference charts and tip sidebars that either give you information on a syntax or available options, or lead you on to find more information elsewhere. Personally, I find the reference charts valuable as the author does not leave you guessing what all the available options or for a particular command or syntax -- in essence, he is opening the door for you to explore further on your own by showing you other possible roads.
This is a great book for those comfortable with programming and new to Perl, or those who have used Perl in the past but perhaps wanted to see what else it could do for them. The only thing lacking from the book is an indexing system on the side. It would have been great if you could have just flipped the book open to the appropriate section when you are on those fast-fact-finding missions.
I think it could be the "the best" Perl book, but it needs serious editing work to get it there.
But, whatever you want to know about the Perl language, you can find -- it's just a matter of wading through the verbiage to get there.
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