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Programming Web Graphics with Perl and GNU Softwar [Paperback]

Shawn Wallace
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 11 1999 1565924789 978-1565924789 1

From access counters and log-report graphs to scientific plots and on-the-fly animated GIFs, graphics scripting is within the grasp of most Web authors. It is a little documented field, however, and the many valuable free libraries and tools available on the Internet remain under-utilized. Programming Web Graphics with Perl & GNU Software is aimed at intermediate and advanced Web users who want to use CGI scripts to generate dynamic graphic content. It will also help to demystify the manipulation of graphics formats for newcomers to the Web.Programming Web Graphics with Perl & GNU Software takes a practical, resource-like approach to the content. It is not a book about design or aesthetics of Web graphics; its focus is on programming or, more accurately, scripting programs that manipulate graphics file to be published on the Web. Most of the examples in the book use Perl as a scripting language, though the concepts are applicable to any programming language. However, several powerful Perl modules for generating graphics (GD, PerlMagick, GIFgraph) should help position Perl as a major contender for your Web graphics applications. Most of the topics covered in the book are applicable to any platform (NT, Linux, Un*x, MaxOS), with the exception of the chapter detailing the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (a free Adobe Photoshop-like application), which requires a connection to an X server. The focus is always on free software, when it is available.This book covers the following:

  • a tour through the most popular Web graphics file formats by implementing parsers for GIF, JPEG, and PNG files
  • descriptions of the PNG, JPEG, and giflib libraries, as well as many other free and proprietary libraries and SDKs
  • extensive documentation and examples using the Perl graphics modules GD and GIFgraph, and the Perl interface to the powerful ImageMagick libraries
  • documentation on the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and the Perl interface that lets you easily script plug-ins or interface to the GIMP via the Web
  • the creation of image maps from data extracted from a database
  • the implementation of several new Perl modules for the creation of neatly formatted PostScript files
  • details on interfacing to a fax gateway
  • reusable recipes for many popular applications such as Web counters and Web cams
  • the creation of animated GIFs on-the-fly
One of the key ingredients to the success of the Web is that anyone who wanted to could participate in publishing to the world. This book will take its readers to the next level of publishing to the world: learning to use scripting programs to create dynamic graphics for their Web sited. The information in this book is written in a practical, easy manner with high-quality documentation and useful examples throughout. It is a detailed reference that provides Web designers and programmers and with the information they need to program.

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From Amazon

As a how-to book, Programming Web Graphics with Perl & GNU Software covers a narrow but powerful niche of Web development--on-the-fly graphics generation. It also focuses on the Perl language and its associated free code modules, making the techniques you learn in this book immediately available for free.

Author Shawn P. Wallace begins with a look at the popular image formats on the Web: GIF, PNG, and JPEG. This chapter offers a quick and fascinating demystification of these critical graphics file types. The next chapter discusses the dance between graphics and Web browsers, with a look at CGI, HTML display, color schemes, and other details.

Among the tools discussed in this book is the GD Perl module for working with GIF files, the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), GIFScript, and ImageMagick. The author uses a chessboard simulation application to illustrate how to manipulate graphics dynamically. Some sections focus on graphing, animation, and image maps to illustrate the flexibility of dynamic graphics.

Near the end of the book, the author presents a "Web graphics cookbook"--a collection of examples you can use in your sites that includes a graphical Web counter, a JavaScript rollover menu, image thumbnailing scripts, and more. The author finishes with a discussion of creating and integrating PostScript code.

This guide reads more like a brain dump from the author than a comprehensive discussion of Web graphics; however, there's much to be gleaned from his knowledge. --Stephen W Plain


'...is a cross between a how to manual and an idea book. It will empower readers in the often mystical area of graphic creation and suggest new ways to give web sites lively, dynamic content, all without spending a penny on software. 454 pages are hardly enough to provide a thorough course in every tool mentioned, but in each case there is enough material to lift the reader to basic confidence, and the references to take them further. Although without some knowledge of Perl it might be intimidating, the text should be accessible to the complete graphics novice. Shawn Wallace has written an excellent book on a topic which deserves it."'--Gavin Inglis, news@UK, June 2000

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Freeware graphics tools for web development are abundant, if you know where to look. This book provides detailed examples of thier use with perl - and excellent text parsing language and defacto standard for cgi programming. With the proper extensions (all available free via GNU Software download) perl can provide "on the fly" rendering of web graphics.

Beginning with a proper understanding of graphics formats (gif, png, jpeg) commonly used on the web and detailing the differences between them, the reader quickly becomes an expert in thier differences and the advantages of each.

The meat of this book includes chapters on popular extensions to perl for graphics, GD, PerlMagick, GIFgraph, and the GIMP. I have always been amazed at the features in GIMP, but until this book did not realize that such features could be scripted in perl. The book list all the methods available through GD with a discussion of each.

Although the included web graphics cookbook is a bit short on recipes, the section on postscript makes up for the loss. If you have ever wanted to generate publisher quality postscript files from your web data the "Everything I Needed to Know About PostScript I learned Here" section is for you.

O'Reilly has a knack for generating 'must have' perl books that stand the test of time. This one is a must for the bookshelf of anyone who parses text with perl. Although a full treatise on this subject would encompasse thousands of pages, this book provides the essentials in an easy to use format. It should be considered an introductory text that will serve as an excellent starting point for the advanced web graphics user.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not an "O Really!" reaction by O'Reilly Nov. 1 2002
I have no other option but accepting most of the negative reviews submitted to this book ( Graphics Programming with Perl and GNU software ). The book is definitely one of the horrible books that O'reilly was ever unfortunate enough to publish. I believe a similar title by "Manning" publication does a better job than this one. If you need the facts, read on.
If you want to purchase this book to learn how to program web graphics with Perl, stop right here and go to CPAN.org. Search for GD, GD::Graph and ImageMagick and read their manuals. That's all this book does any ways.
The only chapter I enjoyed was chapter one, "Image File Formats", which at least taught me something I hadn't known before.
Outlines of the chapters follow.
Chapter one - "Image File Formats" covers most of the basics you need to know to understand the anatomy of graphics, their compression algorithms and different formats available for the web, as well as their pros and cons. This is the chapter I enjoyed most. The chapter lasts over 30 pages.
Chapter two - "Serving graphics on the Web" talks a bit about serving images from within Perl. Talks how the browser loads the images, image load time and image caching. Shows the <IMG> tag, and its attributes. Lasts another 30 pages.
Chapter 3 - "A Litany of Libraries" lists references to some of the graphics libraries available on the web. I would expect to see this chapter as an appendix.
Starting chapter 4 - "On-the-Fly graphics with GD" is the start of all the disappointment, and to some extent, annoyance. After a clumsy introduction to GD and some of its classes and methods, starts coding a chess board. The application itself is not so useful, but the code is worth consideration.
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By A Customer
This is not an art book. There are not even any color illustrations. Rather, there is uniquely definitive and comprehensive coverage of the most important freeware graphics tools useful for web development. There is a strong bias toward programmatic tools, those which can be controlled from server-parsed HTML or CGI using Perl, which allow drawing graphics interactively with the user on the fly. One example with source code is a Perl "biorhythm" calculator, where the user enters a birthdate and the web page draws a customized GIF bar chart with a sinusoidal envelope, emulating the coin-operated "biorhythm" machine at the Vince Lombardi Rest Area on I-95 in New Jersey. This basic technique can be used for charts of stock performance, server activity, and any other on-demand drawing. The ImageMagick tool, which can be run from a command line to do batch processing (such as thumbnailing) or through a Perl API, is also well covered, showing how to draw text labels onto images and do other tasks essential to good web practice. The GIMP, a web-friendly freeware clone of Adobe Photoshop, is covered primarily from the point of view of its relatively unknown Perl API, but this is not a book about the GIMP and there are better choices of books (especially those with color) if interactive use of the GIMP is your main concern. However, use of the GIMP to create basic web elements such as flaming marbles or imploding cats is covered. This book stands in a class by itself on its subject matter, and is destined to become one of the classic O'Reilly references. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money
This book offers nothing but the documentation found at the CPAN website. They dont even go as far as to suggest any use (other than the obvious) for any function. Read more
Published on May 4 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Although the subject matter is great, it lacks a lot when it comes to substance. It is very sad when you have to trouble shoot the example source code from a book that was written... Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2001 by roger wilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Wallace does it again
Mr. Shawn Wallace has once again transformed the graphics programming genre. With this tour-de-force, Wallace sews up perl in a neat little package. Read more
Published on June 24 2001 by "onneb_ruemuhleb"
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I was looking for
This book is exacly what you need for creating dynamic webpages. It covers everything from file types to advanced image manuipulation functions. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 1999 by "jdyelle"
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun stuff in Perl...
I don't know about the rest of you, but I can only stand to grab data out of a text file so many times... Read more
Published on Aug. 30 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but somewhat selective
Yup it's not a bad book but comes at things from rather an unrelenting Unix and Open Source background. Read more
Published on Aug. 24 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, could have been better though....
It's a reasonable start if you want to work with GD, ImageMagick and others, but it's too much a printed version of the manpages. With examples and some tips though. Read more
Published on June 16 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Most amazing book on PERL
Creating graphics, charts and diagrams on the fly with your real-time data --- you got it.
This book covered some really exciting topics and add some favor to your... Read more
Published on June 6 1999 by Ben Yeung
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done! Great coverage of a powerful use of Perl
For those of you who know just about all there is to know about CGI using Perl, buy this book! This book introduced me to a side of Perl I had never thought of before. Read more
Published on May 15 1999 by Dave Greco (dgreco@atlantic.net)
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want server-side graphics, this is the book
Amazing, you really dont even need to know Perl, (though it helps:) Definitly buy it if you want to generate PNG, JPEG, and GIFs ON THE SEVER. A MUST HAVE!
Published on May 10 1999
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