Advanced Perl Programming Paperback – Jul 8 2005
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The Worlds Most Highly Developed Perl Tutorial
About the Author
Simon Cozens is an Open Source programmer and author. He has released over a hundred Perl modules including Email::Simple, Mail::Audit, Maypole, Plucene, and B::Generate. He's the co-author of Beginning Perl (Wrox) and Extending and Embedding Perl (Manning) and was the managing editor of Perl.com from 2001 to 2004. A graduate in Japanese from Oxford University, he now lives in Wales and enjoys Japanese and Greek food, bizarre music and fine typography.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Only Chapter 1, "Advanced Techniques," bears much resemblance to the previous edition of APP. It covers subject matter closer to the language than to the modules involved: globs, CORE::, objects, B, and compilation. Each subsequent chapters discusses a common programming problem, shows off a few existing solutions (in the form of code on the CPAN), and sometimes demonstrates how to put those existing solutions to use. Among the topics covered are parsing, templating, serialization, unicode, and testing. POE, Inline, and Acme also get a chapter each.
Simon's writing is, as always, lucid and easy to follow. He provides good example problems, and he builds solutions that tend to do a good job of selling the modules on display. I must admit to feeling compelled to go do more with POE and some of the Lingua:: tools, after finishing their respective chapters.
In the end, though, I felt unfulfilled. While APP1 was not one of O'Reilly's best Perl books, it delivered what it promised: advanced techniques for writing Perl code. What APP2 delivers is a guide to avoiding the need for advanced techniques. It will save you from needing to use the strangest bits of Perl, not show you how. (The back cover quotes Andy Wardley as saying, "This book of spells goes a long way to unlocking those secrets [of advanced Perl code.]" I think, rather, that it just teaches the incantations.)
Perhaps my disappointment is predicated entirely on my incorrect expectations. If this book had been called "Leveraging the CPAN," I'd probably consider it a great success. You may, instead, be interested in Intermediate Perl or Mastering Perl.
It reads more like an article on Perl.com or in the Perl Journal, and could easily have been several articles spread out over a few months. I have to wonder if he started the book with the idea that "advanced" means "knowing about useful modules on CPAN" or if the idea came to him sometime after it was clear the book was running late.
Regardless, consider looking at it if you see it in the store. It's not without its value, but I can't see paying for a book that mostly says, "Here's someone else's work to check out." An advanced book ought to be getting into -- well -- advanced techniques, useful info that's hard to come by, something that isn't ALREADY AVAILABLE ELSEWHERE.
I liked the first edition a lot. It took me a while to catch up to that one and now, the same experience with this one. It has taken me a while to catch up to it.
Get both editions of this, they are different authors and different books, you can learn from each. Read them, let it settle, and read them again.
The First Edition of this book is one of my favorite books. For an example of why, it explained anonymous structures clearer than anyplace else I had seen. I have re-read it several times, learning something new with each reading. If you have gotten through "Learning Perl", and want to become an advanced Perl programmer, get yourself a copy of the First Edition.
Why is this book is the "Second Edition" of anything? It bears no resemblance at all to the First Edition. It has a different author, which is the first red flag. Looking inside, we find that all the chapters have different titles, and there is no topic discussed in one book that is discussed in the other. Most of what is in the First Edition is still valid Perl, and important information for a Perl programmer to know. Within a few minutes of learning this Second Edition had been published, I ordered it, based on my love of the First Edition. If I had spent any time looking through it, I probably wouldn't have bought it.
This book covers advanced Perl constructs and topics, but those much less useful to the average "another Perl hacker". It is interesting to know some of the stuff in the 2E, perhaps from an academic perspective, but there is none of the, "Wow, I'm going to use this every day" feeling that I got with the 1E.
To be fair, this book is well written, and clearly explains some things I've "always wondered about". There are several topics covered that I wish had been covered in more depth. For example, there is exactly one sentence about Inline::Java. But, I am glad that I bought it, and will put it on my shelf next to the First Edition. In thinking about it, I would say that this book should have been called, "Advanced Perl Programming, Volume 2" (with two panthers on the front?) Meanwhile, it is true that Sriram's First Edition could use some updating. After Perl 6 is released?
It does still cover some of the material of the first edition, such as globs, closures, AUTOLOAD, the Perl class model, and some Perl internals, but it's all been compressed into one chapter.
The other chapters discuss various subjects using CPAN modules and gives some insight into how the material from the first chapter was used to solve these problems. A wide variety of issues are discussed, including serialization and object relational mapping, natural language parsing, templating and unicode. Some superficially similar material could be found in Perl Cookbook, but the discussion here is deeper (and more up to date), there's very little overlap.
Exactly how much you get out of the book will probably be dependent on how well you know the innards of CPAN and how interesting you find the topics. I liked the parsing and natural language processing chapters a lot, and the chapter on inlining code from other languages was diverting; conversely, I can't bring myself to find Unicode even remotely stimulating, and the POE (some sort of event-based framework) chapter didn't do much for me. The testing chapter is a solid addition to the material in Intermediate Perl, and I picked up some pointers to modules to check out, but it didn't feel all that advanced.
This is a book that fits in quite nicely with Intermediate Perl and Programming Perl -- it cleans up a few niggling details not well discussed in the former book, without having the intimidating heft of the latter, and also provides a wide ranging overview of several topics and the CPAN solutions for them. As such, it will bring an intermediate programmer up a few notches.
Already advanced Perl programmers may be disappointed, and those hoping for an updated version of the first edition will definitely be out of luck, but if you know what you're getting, and evaluate it on those terms, rather than what the title suggests, I think you'll enjoy it.
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