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Learning Perl
By: lig
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    2005-09-27

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    Learning Perl: 2nd and 3rd editions
    By: Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix
    Published by O'Reilly

    All I can say about these books is - WOW. I have read more then a few books on various programming languages and never have I read one that was both entertaining (I actually laughed a few times) and incredibly informative.

    By : Ligaya Turmelle

    First thing you must learn about Perl is that it is different from any other language (C, PHP, etc.). As long as you accept that and don't try to make it work like another programming language - you will be fine. If you don't know another language - even better. You can start from scratch (though knowing a little bit about servers will definitely help you).

    Your probably sitting there saying "Second and Third edition? Why did she read both editions?". Let me explain... My company ordered me 3rd edition to read... but for various reasons it was taking forever to show up. So I (being the impatient fool that I am) decided to see if the local library had a copy of the book so I could at least get started learning. It did - the 2nd edition - so I checked it out and started reading figuring - "How different can the various editions be since Perl works so hard to stay backwards compatible." Little did I know there was a major rewrite between the 2 editions. Anyway... I have read 2nd edition and skimmed 3rd edition for any alterations/additions and made sure I read them as well. Not a lot of change in content between the 2 books - most of it was in the way the information was presented to the reader. The 3rd is much easier to digest as a new programmer so I suggest you go that route. (FYI - I think a 4th edition has just been released but I haven't taken a look at it yet.)

    Now what does the book cover? Just about anything a beginner Perl programmer would need to get up and going writing scripts that can actually be used that day (references for more advanced topics are also provided for research in "Programming Perl" (The Camel Book) ). In this book you are introduced to is Perl's 3 data types (Scalar, Arrays (Lists) and Hashes), shown its many control structures (if/else, if/elsif/else, while, for, until, unless, do while, do until, and a few more), given a nice introduction and explanation of regular expressions (one of Perl's powerhouse features), shown some of its I/O capabilities, shown how to create user defined functions, shown how to create filehandles and what you can do with them, shown how to use formats for your reports, how to deal with process management, and shown how to move around and work with your directories and files. Before you ask - no that is not all that is covered... a lot more is waiting for you in this book. You should also know the book has real world problems for you too solve using the skills introduced to test how much you actually learned with full answers and explanations of how the authors solved the problems.

    According to the authors each chapter should take about a hour to read with about 45 minutes for the exercises but I found myself taking longer then that. About 1.5 hours was my norm for the reading and the exercises... well some took 5 minutes but others took an hour or 2. All in all - I loved this book and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to take a walk on the wild side.


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