Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review - Learning Perl

Learning Perl, by Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix, brian d foy is an entertaining and well-written book that will take you from knowing at least a little bit about programming, to knowing a lot about Perl.

Learning Perl starts off with a basic introduction to Perl, with basic data types, subroutines, and input/output (including files). Then you are introduced to more advanced topics such as hashes, regexes, Perl modules, file tests, and directory operations. In this book you will find fairly in-depth discussions on each chapter, with a set of exercises at the end that should take the novice programmer about 45 minutes to complete. The exercises are well written and help the reader retain the information that was presented in the chapter.

I picked up Learning Perl for the obvious reason - I wanted to learn Perl! And this book was a marvelous introduction to the language that says TMTOWTDI (pronounced Tom Towdy). Rather than a horribly dry book full of obfuscated examples, I was surprised at how entertaining the read was. The examples were somewhat contrived (using Flintstones characters, for example), but they were perfect for teaching the principles in each chapter. If you make an honest effort to go through this book and finish the exercises, you can easily learn a lot of Perl in a week. You may not be a Perl whiz, but when you see something like

while (<>){ chomp($_); print $_; }

rather than being utterly confused at the cryptic symbols, you'll have a fairly good (if not great) idea about what's going on.

This book is a must-have for anyone who wants to learn Perl.

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