19 February 1998
LEARNING PERL, Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Christiansen (O'Reilly & Associates ISBN 1565922840; softcover 328p), 1997.
Ever want to know what $_~=/[A-Z]/i means? Ever wondered how you can use Perl to write CGI scripts for your web site? If so, then O’Reilly’s Nutshell Handbook LEARNING PERL should be on your reading list.
LEARNING PERL is an excellent introduction to Perl. As written by Randal L. Schwartz and Tom Christiansen, it keeps a sense of levity while still packing a whole lotta' information. Don't be fooled by how thin this book is (.84 inches) – the pages of this book are packed tight with useful information. Concise is certainly one of the adjectives that apply to this book.
The scope of the book is truly amazing for its size. Although it is only about 300 pages, the topics in the book are many: data, arrays, control structures, hashes, regular expressions and functions, to name a few.
It becomes obvious that these folks don't take themselves too seriously when on page one Christiansen writes, "Perl is short for ‘Practical Extraction and Report Language,' although it has also been called a ‘Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister.'"
Numerous examples along with thorough explanations make it easy to understand the concepts covered in this book. Among the new topics covered in the book is programming for the Internet. This chapter contains information on using CGI scripting to bring life to a web page and on how to write your own browser. It also contains information on other useful topics like database manipulation through Perl, and working with files.
Learning Perl is an excellent primer for anyone interested in Perl or what Perl can do. It builds an excellent foundation of knowledge about Perl.
-- Oren Leaffer
Oren Leaffer is a high school student and web developer living in Marin County, California. His writing and programming can be seen on several community web sites. He enjoys distance running and deep thought.
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