The Perl Book Buying Guide

Title:Programming Perl
Author(s):Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen & Randal L. Schwartz
Audience:Beginner    Intermediate    Advanced    Rating:     
Publication Year:1996Publisher:O'Reilly & AssociatesISBN:1565921496
Comments:General Comments
The grand-daddy of all Perl books, now in it's second edition! This is the quintessential Perl reference guide, written by the language's principal author (Larry Wall) and co-written by two of the Perl community's leading authorities (Tom Christiansen & Randal Schwartz). No collection of Perl books should be missing this one!

While some could compare this to Ellis & Stroustrap's The Annotated C++ Reference Manual, I think it more closely resembles Lipmman's C++ Primer, more of a useful reference than a technically complete one.

I find this book most useful when I come across some feature of the language someplace else, and just need a little more info on the implementation and intended usage. Although a lot of this info can be found in the man pages, I personally prefer printed material. And there's quite a bit more here in the book than there is online (but then, the online docs are more up-to-date). YMMV, of course!

Description
The book is broken up functionally into 9 large chapters. The second chapter covers most of the core programming language, from basics like data types and operators, to regular expressions and formats. It's definitely a "jump right in" kind of book. There are also chapters covering all of the Perl built-in functions and standard Perl library, as well as chapters on more advanced topics like references and packages.

Beginners
This book is a good first book for beginners who have experience in other programming languages, and with common tools found on Unix systems (such as awk, sed, sh, grep, etc.). You also need to be a good self-teacher.

If you don't have a lot of other programming experience, or are unfamiliar with Unix tools, I'd suggest starting with Learning Perl or Learning Perl on Win32 Systems, as they will ease you into Perl programming in general, and Unix tools. Note: please don't read too much into the "Unix tools" thing mentioned. Perl is a very cross-platform language, more so than most. But, it has definite roots in Unix, and to those with little or no Unix experience, concepts like regular expressions or simple statements like "open(IN, 'ps |')" could seem baffling!

Intermediate & Advanced
If you haven't bought Programming Perl yet, you probably should. It will help answer the low-level, really nasty, splitting hairs type of questions that keep programmers up at night.
Rating Scale:  = = Not Recommended,       = = Excellent!

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The Perl Book Buying Guide - Programming Perl / 06 September 1999 / joc@netaxs.com

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