The Perl Book Buying Guide

Title:Perl in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference
Author(s):Ellen Siever, Stephen Spainhour & Nathan Patwardhan
Audience:Beginner    Intermediate    Advanced    Rating:    
Publication Year:1999Publisher:O'Reilly & AssociatesISBN:1565922867
Comments:General Comments
There is no better way to describe this book than "Perl in a Nutshell"! It seems to very nicely sum up most things Perl, providing a hard-copy alternative to the Perl man pages. Indeed, most of the info can be found in the man pages, so if you're good with using on-line docs for learning or as a reference, then you probably don't need this book.

I do enjoy books, though. Sometimes if all I need to do is look up the arguments for a particular function, then I'll just zip over to the on-line docs. But if I need to refresh myself on something which I use very infrequently, formats for example, then I'd much rather have a book to thumb through. Don't ask me why, it's just the way I am.

In addition to documenting the standard modules, this book also provides some reference for two commonly used modules, and DBI. I'm not partial to either one of those modules myself, but most people use them. If you're looking for in-depth info on, check out Official Gide to Programming with Also, there are reportedly two new DBI books due out Real Soon Now.

Finally, the book ends with decent reference sections for Network Programming (sockets, FTP, HTTP, email, etc.), Perl/Tk and Win32 specific modules. It explains some aspects of the topic at hand with a 1/2 page or two pages of text, but mostly it show the methods and fuctions with their arguments, and a brief description. More detailed references exit for the Win32 modules (Win32 Perl Programming) and one on Perl/Tk is due out sometime soon..


Just as with Programming Perl, though, this book is only good for beginners who are familiar with programing in general and common Unix tools (sed, awk, grep, etc.). For example, the Regular Expressions section never really explains what they are and why you would use them; it merely tells you what tools are available and how to use them. If you're comfortable with your other programming skills and are a good self-learner, this is a good book. If not, then I'd suggest one of the Learning books instead (Learning Perl or Learning Perl on Win32 Systems).

Intermediate & Advanced
Rating Scale:  = = Not Recommended,       = = Excellent!

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Copyright © Joseph L. Casadonte Jr. 1998-9. All rights reserved.
The Perl Book Buying Guide - Perl in a Nutshell / 06 September 1999 /

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