Weighing in at over 1,200 pages, the text is dedicated to the principle that more is more, yet in covering the breadth of today's Perl, it doesn't ever lose sight of the practical details. One of the best feautures is its attention to running Perl in multiple environments. Early sections look at installing and running Perl on Unix, Windows, and the Mac. There is plenty of advice on how to run and deploy scripts, including excellent sections on the internals of Perl, autoloading modules, and creating installable modules for distribution.
A practical, hands-on focus is the rule throughout this text, which features short code excerpts rather than full-length scripts. Early sections cover pretty much the entire Perl language in significant detail, from data types (including scalars, arrays, and hashes, which help give Perl its distinctive personality) to flow control statements and their scoping rules. An important chapter presents object-oriented Perl, including common class design constructs like inheritance.
The emphasis of much of this book is on detailing the use of key Perl modules to perform basic and important tasks like file I/O, working with files and directories, process control, and networking. One notable section covers regular expressions with a clearly presented (yet sophisticated) tutorial to this essential Perl feature. (Besides the fundamentals, the book examines optimizing your regular expressions for better performance.) Later sections show you how to do networking in Perl, as well as how to get Perl to interoperate with C and even Java. The book closes with a concise listing of available Perl functions, as well as the most important Perl modules.
Professional Perl Programming doesn't dumb the subject down. Perl is infinitely rich and sometimes difficult, and this book is up to the task. It succeeds at presenting a wide-ranging tour of today's Perl with enough information to please even experienced Perl programmers. It contains much to mine in the way of basic and expert material that any intermediate to advanced developer can use to do more with Perl in everyday programming projects. --Richard Dragan