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5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I know of for learning Perl
This really is the best book I know of for learning Perl, and I say that as someone who owns a very large pile of books on the subject. I first bought it when I started a year of full-time Perl programming, and it was the book that let me get up and running. Some years later, I *still* go back to it occasionally--there are some things that it just explains better than...
Published on Nov. 30 2002 by Kevin B. Cohen

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3.0 out of 5 stars good for Perl, bad for CGI
This book is a very good introduction to Perl. If your goal is to program CGI scripts, however, you will need an additional book. The chapter on CGI uses incomplete examples which cannot be run as-is. This is a change from the previous chapters which provided working examples. To parse incoming data, the author says you should use a perl module called CGI_Lite. But he...
Published on July 16 2001 by L. Goins


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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Intro to Perl, June 7 2004
This review is from: Perl For Dummies (Paperback)
This book seems to follow the pattern of most Dummies books I've read...give a good overview of the major considerations of the topic at hand, provide a few examples to help give the reader a feeling of empowerment, and indicate that there is much more to learn.
I came to this book needing to learn perl well enough to write some simple text modification programs for work. While this book does not replace a semester-long university course on the language (which is what I'm used to), it does give the reader enough information to jump in and start writing some simple perl programs...if your comfortable with the OS you're dealing with and if perl is already installed (I'm not sure I really could have accomplished those tasks with only the knowlege from this book).
I guess my take on this book and other Dummies books are like those infamous Cliff Notes from high school...simply reading these books won't make you an expert, but they can give valuable insight and pointers that you might not easily gain on your own. As an additional tool coupled with a little bit of programming experience and the provided perl documentation, Perl for Dummies has helped me get up to speed quickly and complete several important projects...which I don't think I would have been able to do otherwise.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Leaving me with more questions than answers., Oct. 5 2003
This review is from: Perl For Dummies (Paperback)
My definition of a good dummies book is one that answers questions rather than raise more of them. I've read up to chapter 5 so far in this book and already my mind is swarming with dozens of questions. And it's frustrating knowing that they aren't answered, or at least, not at this point.
I'm reading this book from cover to cover - I'm not using it as a reference. I really want to learn Perl. Therefore, I was hoping to truly understand WHY certain things are the way they are in this language... not just that "this does that." That's only 1/2 of the battle in programming. We have to know how these functions/variables relate to each other. That's what programming is all about - relations... but relationships aren't defined clearly (so far) in this book.
For example, the author goes through 2 examples of perl programs in Chapter 4. He illustrates what each part of the script does, but this is only partially satisfactory. Half of the displayed functions are definitions, instead of explanations. I found myself asking "Okay, so why is that part important? How does it relate to the other parts? Why does that need to be included? The chomp variable? Why include that here? Sure, I know what it DOES, but why include it here? Which variables are native to Perl and which aren't?" Many, many questions.
It feels like Chapter 4 belongs towards the end of the book, after we understand all of the basic functions/variables, etc. I skimmed through the book and found answers to questions I had at the beginning - which isn't very efficient.
I understand why something is important about 50% of the time with Perl for Dummies. The other 50% is spent looking in other chapters for answers, doing mental gymnastics in my head, or just moving on, hoping it will be explained in the next page or so.
Perhaps he does explain it, but not enough to my satisfaction. Or maybe it's all cleaned up in later chapters. It sounds like he wrote this assuming we would be able to figure out any missing parts. The book needs more clarity. I'm left more confused than enlightened.
It was only after applying a bit of my own computer know-how that I finally got a script to work - frustrating when the author doesn't make it clear you can make paths to the files you want to use Perl on. I eventually figured it out... but aren't Dummies books supposed to explain these things?
I'm not reviewing this book out of ignorance or disrespect for the author's knowledge and experience. He obviously knows what he is doing. I've programmed in Java before and it's easy to see the similarities. I'm also an experienced web developer.
I just wonder how I could be scratching my head so many times when this book is supposed adapt to the fact that I am a dummy. Good start, but gets confusing quickly.
If the book gets any better as I read, I will re-review it and adjust its rating accordingly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I know of for learning Perl, Nov. 30 2002
By 
Kevin B. Cohen (Denver, CO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This really is the best book I know of for learning Perl, and I say that as someone who owns a very large pile of books on the subject. I first bought it when I started a year of full-time Perl programming, and it was the book that let me get up and running. Some years later, I *still* go back to it occasionally--there are some things that it just explains better than other books do. (In particular, it does a good job with some of the occasional dark corners of dereferencing arrays in complex data structures. If you know what that means: there's some weird syntax to this that this book gives very clear examples of. If you don't know what that means: trust me when I say that this book will tell you how to handle it without requiring that you completely understand why it's hard first, and that's a VERY good thing.)
If you're already an experienced programmer, you'll do fine reading the introductory material in Larry Wall et al.'s "Programming Perl," but whether you're an old hat at hacking or not, you'll get plenty out of this book. When you're up to speed, your next book should probably be "Programming Perl" or Nigel Chapman's "Perl: The Programmer's Companion."
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great Perl book for begginners !, March 14 2002
By 
Ori Cohen (Ramat-Gan Israel) - See all my reviews
This book would get you programming in perl in no-time !
It is amazing how easy this book makes even the more advanced features of Perl. WOW !
Perl is a wonderful and easy programming language for dealing with files, small and medium communication programs, pathches for other software and so on.
This book gives you a great start in that field, and it's fun !
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, Jan. 11 2002
By A Customer
Having been almost completely stumped by trying to learn Perl using the camel, I was desperate to find something that would make it a bit easier to get started. This book was just what the doctor ordered. True, there were no excercises, but I could dream up my own without much difficulty. I would have given this book the full five stars as a starter for Perl (at least for someone like me who has programming experience; non-Perl, non-C, but still) if it hadn't been for one thing: Doesn't anyone proofread these things? It's bad enough when there are irritating t7pos in the text describing things, but when the little sample code snippets have errors in them, that's really bad.
That said, the book made me realize at the first glance when the code was bad, so it definitely taught me something. And now I feel ready to go back to the camel again.
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1.0 out of 5 stars No Exercises At The End Of Chapters., Sept. 30 2001
By 
Calvin Barajas (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Warning: Do not purchase this book if you want to Learn PERL. This book has no exercises.
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3.0 out of 5 stars good for Perl, bad for CGI, July 16 2001
By 
L. Goins (Norman, OK United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is a very good introduction to Perl. If your goal is to program CGI scripts, however, you will need an additional book. The chapter on CGI uses incomplete examples which cannot be run as-is. This is a change from the previous chapters which provided working examples. To parse incoming data, the author says you should use a perl module called CGI_Lite. But he doesn't tell where to get it, how to install it, or how to set it up and use it. That's not too helpful, especially for a beginners book. You'll need to know some Perl before diving into CGI programming, and this book can give you that base knowledge. Just don't expect it to give you everything you'll need to know to get cgi scripts up and running.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good place to start, April 21 2001
For those who frown upon Dummies books, you should ease up a bit and give this one some serious thought. Perl for Dummies is strictly for beginners. When I say beginners, I mean people with absolutely no programming experience in any language. I compared this book to Learning Perl and found that Learning Perl is written primarily for seasoned non-Perl programmers who are trying to learn Perl for the first time. If you are like me, with no programming know how, this is a more appropriate beginning. It explains such simplicities as scalars, arrays, adding and removing list elements, conditionals, etc. It even goes (lightly) into CGI and regular expressions. It does so in a language which understands that the reader is a "dummy" when it comes to programming and most importantly, it keeps it simple. Simplicity is the primary teaching strategy when dealing with a topic at the novice level, and Perl for Dummies does this well. The weakness of this book is that it does not do a good job of teaching you how to install Perl from the CD provided. In fact, the instructions provided were downright wrong. I had to ask a Perl programmer how to install and run Perl programs on my Windows 98 system. Another weakness, if you can call it that with a book at this level, is that it lacks program examples which would allow me to see what exactly can Perl do in the real world, such as system administration in a UNIX environment. I recommend this book as the starting point, with Learning Perl and Elements of Programming Perl as your next logical step. After you have mastered these books should you go on the Programming Perl and the Perl Cookbook.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Well Worn Book that I Love, Jan. 7 2001
By A Customer
I've never been a big fan of the "Dummies" line of books because I've had some bad experiences with some of them. This book was a pleasant surprise. I wanted to learn Perl for doing CGI on the web, and I wanted to learn it quickly. This book did not dissapoint. I used it as a starting point and then moved on to the O'reilly books, which was an excellent way to do it. Here's the funny thing, I still go back to this book as a quick reference at times. There have been times that I have not been able to find the answer quickly enough in the O'reilly books and I've ended up turning back to this one. I just had one of those occasions where I quickly found a small section in this book on concatenation. It gave an excellent example. After sifting through O'reilly for a couple of hours, I wish that I had looked through this one first.
With a good amount of work and concentration, you should be able to learn Perl with this book. Think of it as a starting point, because it will not likely teach you everything that you want to know. That's not the purpose of the dummies books.
In conclusion, I'm very happy that I chose this book as a starting point.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Excerpt from "The Perl Jounal", Nov. 26 2000
By 
Ashley (Ang Mo Kio, Singapore) - See all my reviews
I am copying an excerpt from "The Perl Journal" review of this book.
__START__
Summary: This is a really rotten book. Very few books are able to attain as many as eight major flaws:
1. 'Dummy' approach encourages and reinforces the reader's disability
2. Lack of concrete programming examples
3. Lack of general discussion of how to program, apart from language-specific features
4. Reference manual organization style
5. Inclusion of too many useless and abstruse features
6. Complicated explanations where simple ones are possible
7. Scaremongering and panic instead of calm explanation of affairs
8. Many, many technical errors, some very serious
__END__
I taught myself Perl with little programming background (BASIC, 20 years ago). I started 1 1/2 years ago and am now using it daily as a web developer and data analyst.
Learning Perl from the books and resources out there is *extremely* difficult. There were many times I could've saved 3 weeks of hammering on a script if a perl guru had said, "Hey, list context just means the function wants a list, like an array or hash." I understand very well that the O'Reilly books are godawful for a beginner b/c that's where I started and suffered long from every explanation that said simply, "It's just like in C, so we won't explain it." That said, the books are pretty terrific once you're at a level to absorb them, but steer clear before then, unless you already know everything that POSIX means.
It might be tempting to pick up this book b/c there are pretty much no Perl books for those who haven't coded already. You should consider "The Elements of Perl" instead of this one. It's a better start for beginners and a wonderful way to start to understand Perl, its idioms, its culture, and how to program well. There is also "The Perl Black Book" which is a much better overview of the Perl than any single O'Reilly book, though the author isn't a guru, he's a good writer and tackles everything from the basics to advanced stuff with lots of examples and a CD with all the code.
Perl is wonderful, so please do pick up a book, just not this one.
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Perl For Dummies
Perl For Dummies by Paul Hoffman (Paperback - March 21 2003)
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