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Perl in A Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference (2nd Edition)

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Spotlight Customer Reviews

Average Customer Rating: 3.71

Customer Rating: 2
Summary: wrong emphases in language reference, good module docs
Comment: I'd been occasionally writing perl for a few months without a decent reference, and have always relied on O'Reilly's _In A Nutshell_ series, so got this book. I think this did not live up to standards..

After an introduction to CPAN (online perl archive) and installing perl, the basic constructs of the language are explained in reasonable (for programmers) detail - data types, statements, special vars, operators, regex, subroutines, pod and the perl debugger. Some of it reads like a tutorial rather than reference, using paragraphs where tables would suit, slowing down ability to access info.

On advanced topics such as object orientation (3 pages), it faded into "throw a few paragraphs together". Occasional usage notes (e.g. anonymous subroutines for closures) would have been nice too.

A full function reference and alphabetised list of standard modules is given, with specific sections on databases, network programming, perl/tk, CGI and win32. With the exception of the CGI section (maybe thanks to its duplication in _Webmaster In A Nutshell_) they are usually little more than a list of methods/subroutines.

I'd advise buying the Camel book, and sticking to the online docs for modules and functions.

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: I've used Perl for several years and love this book
Comment: Exactly as advertised, "Perl in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference" is a great reference book if you already have a basic understanding of Perl. Although it does have a section that it refers to as an "Introduction to Perl" it is actually a pretty cursory introduction and there are better books for learning the basics of Perl.

The book does have an excellent section on installing Perl including installation on both the Unix and Windows platforms. I've worked with both platforms and the installation process is well documented including how to install modules. This brings us to the large chapter on getting and installing Perl modules. I have spent hours sometimes trying to find an appropriate module for a special situation. This chapter lists all the most common modules and includes descriptions of what they do. This alone makes it a valuable resource for anyone involved in Perl.

The authors also include a lot of technical information including command line options and environment variables as well as a section on program structure, data types, special variables, operators, expressions, subroutines, filehandles, and just about anything else that you might need a quick refresher on.

Functions are listed both by category and by alphabetical order with descriptions and syntax information. I had a couple of problems on a large project recently and it took three days to get an answer through the forums on the Internet. The answers to all of them are right here and I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had had this book then.

A lot of other information is available in the book including CGI programming, Webserver programming, database programming, SOAP, Network modules including Net, Mail, NNTP, FTP, and LDAP, Perl/Tk, Win32 Modules and Extensions, OLE Automation, and ODBC Extensions. This book will be the one I keep close at hand when working with Perl and deserves its location on my desktop instead of in the library. "Perl in a Nutshell" is highly recommended for Perl programmers from basic to advanced level.

Customer Rating: 3
Summary: A handy reference, but...
Comment: This is a handy reference, but if you have a limited budget you should probably go with Programming Perl and the Perl Cookbook before this one. This is a fine reference but it doesn't have the depth that the other books have and the information on the modules is available online through CPAN. I have the entire Perl library on my bookshelf and I hardly ever pick this one up.