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Book Review: Learning Perl

February 8th, 2010 Categories: Book Reviews, Perl

Perl is one of those languages I probably don’t care if I ever master, but I have to deal with it from time to time both in web applications and in shell scripting, that I wanted to gain a better understanding of it. For that reason I passed up on getting the highly acclaimed “camel book” and got Learning Perl, 5th edition, by Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix, and brian d foy, which is a slim 328 pages. I also found the subtitle encouraging, “Making Easy Things Easy & Hard Things Possible”– my early experiences with Perl have not been pleasant ones.

I enjoyed the book more than I expected, and have found it equal to the tasks I need to perform with Perl. It reads much like any “beginning” programming book (without all of the ‘what is a computer?’ nonsense you’d find in a Deitel&Deitel beginner book). My depth of experience with PHP helped me to be a little more comfortable with the syntax, and allowed me to ponder some of the trickier concepts a little more deeply. Like the default variable $_… I’m still thinking about that.

The book has a good introduction to modules, and covers both using cpan to install, and installing from source. Both of which I’ve had to do recently. The chapter on Regular Expressions was especially helpful, and probably one of the best short-tutorials on regular expressions I’ve ever read. Someday I’m going to have to read a book about those, maybe I’ll remember it better, but until then brief explanations like these will be my regex life blood.

The book offers exercises at the end of each chapter, in fact the authors claim this book is the product of their curriculum taught over a number of years. I didn’t work through all of them, but I did a few and I found them helpful. They also include possible solutions to each of them. As a student of computer science, I appreciated their preface to each solution “Here’s one way to do it:”.

All things considered, I enjoyed my experience with this book. If your goal is to become a hard core Perl wizard, you might want to go with the camel book. If your intentions for Perl are more casual, then you probably want this book.

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One Response to “Book Review: Learning Perl”

  1. February 9th, 2010 at 14:49

    Thanks for this nice review!

    For more info on regex, I recommend Friedl’s “Mastering Regular Expressions” book, although I think the first edition was better on theory, because the second edition spent more time talking about how regex looked in a lot of different languages.

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