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Custom CGI Scripting with Perl

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Spotlight Customer Reviews

Average Customer Rating: 4.33

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: Easy to Grasp, Step by Step explanation of Perl and the Web
Comment: Kevin Hanegan's Custom CGI Scripting with Perl brings a pragmatic tutorial approach to Web programming. This book is geared towards beginning- and intermediate-level programmers who want to learn one of the most powerful programming languages for Web development.

Hanegan divides his book into four parts: "Getting Started," "Building Blocks," "Advanced Perl," and "Putting It All Together." Each chapter delivers the essential elements of programming in a familiar classroom format: objectives, tutorial, key points, exercises, and summary. The book's supporting Web site includes code samples from the book, Perl resource links, discussions, and links to necessary applications for Web development with Perl.

Custom CGI Scripting with Perl begins by giving you an overview of the CGI framework and the necessary background information to understand how it works with the Web, such as the HTTP protocol, client requests, and server responses. (It also has the integrity to reveal CGI's limitations.) Finally, Hanegan discusses the pros and cons of hosting your own site, what hardware you need, what the best Web applications are, and which platforms to run them on.

The "Getting Started" chapters give a concise explanation of the different Perl variable types, operators, statements, conditions, looping logic, and subroutines. Subsequent chapters cover more complicated areas, such as pattern matching, file I/O, and form processing (including an e-mail response system). Code samples are well described throughout the book. This is important because it helps you understand what you are doing, not just how to do it.

For those of you who work with content-heavy sites or who need skills for good content management, Hanegan covers data manipulation from all angles-from flat-file databases to the basics of SQL and the Database Independent Module-to work with dynamic database-driven content. He also explains how relational databases work and gives code samples for basic SQL queries. He shows how Perl's built-in functions can make supposed complicated tasks pleasant. Later in the book he gives fundamental information on DDL (data definition language) statements, DML (data modeling language) statements, and other vital acronyms.

Most importantly, he covers advanced techniques such as debugging and handling errors-wise skills that any professional developer should know.

Custom CGI Scripting with Perl successfully reveals how Perl is involved with all aspects, not just isolated areas, of Web development.

Customer Rating: 4
Summary: Good book, but needs more advanced topics
Comment: PRO: I like this book a lot because it has an easy to follow writing style. It also has a defined scope, and shows how to integrate Perl and cgi to add dynamics to your site. It shows just enough Perl to get the job done. It has a lot of small examples and 3 complete applications. Examples are clear and go from the simple to the more advanced.

CON: I think the book is targeted at beginners. Experienced programmers only need half of the current text. Also the author needs to much space to tell me again and again how good Perl actually is for the development of small to mid-sized web sites. I know that already, I bought the book, didn't I?! There are only 3 complete applications in the book, an e-mail response form, a guestbook and the use of flat file databases. The first two are very (too?) simple. I had an e-mail response form Perl-script running on my web site without any book! I also missed some "advanced" topics, like setting and retrieving cookies (or can't this be done with Perl?), retaining state at the browser site (e.g. by using variables in the URL?) and making my whole site dynamically generated from some (database) files. The author somewhere mentions "defensive programming", but most examples focus on "getting the job done" instead of showing sound software engineering principles (e.g. using subroutines without explicit return values).

BOTTOM LINE: a very useful book if you are new to programming, a still a useful book if you know programming, but don't know Perl. I do think you need another book to learn how to make really interesting dynamic websites. I only don't know which book, yet.

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: Great Book
Comment: Easy to follow examples. Great for a beginner to learn CGI. Learn the language by the end of the book.