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Data Munging with Perl: Techniques for Data Recognition, Parsing, Transformation and Filtering [Paperback]

David Cross
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: £33.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 Feb 2001 1930110006 978-1930110007 1

Your desktop dictionary may not include it, but 'munging' is a common term in the programmer’s world. Many computing tasks require taking data from one computer system, manipulating it in some way, and passing it to another. Munging can mean manipulating raw data to achieve a final form. It can mean parsing or filtering data, or the many steps required for data recognition. Or it can be something as simple as converting hours worked plus pay rates into a salary cheque.

This book shows you how to process data productively with Perl. It discusses general munging techniques and how to think about data munging problems. You will learn how to decouple the various stages of munging programs, how to design data structures, how to emulate the Unix filter model, etc. If you need to work with complex data formats it will teach you how to do that and also how to build your own tools to process these formats. The book includes detailed techniques for processing HTML and XML. And, it shows you how to build your own parsers to process data of arbitrary complexity.

If you are a programmer who munges data, this book will save you time. It will teach you systematic and powerful techniques using Perl. If you are not a Perl programmer, this book may just convince you to add Perl to your repertoire.

What’s inside:

  • Using CPAN modules like Number::Format, Date::Manip, Text::CSV_XS
  • Making your code concise using Perl’s special variables (like $/, $” and $_)
  • Building data parsers using Parse::RecDescent
  • Processing of HTML and XML

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Manning Publications; 1 edition (14 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930110006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930110007
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 18.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 786,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Perl hacker, writer and trainer. Owners of London-based open source consultancy, Magnum Solutions. Regular speaker at Perl and Open Source conferences. Started London Perl Mongers - sorry about that.

Product Description


" . . . well written, informative, thought provoking . . . will be as relevant five years from now as it is today. . . . buy [one]." -- Dr. Dobb’s Journal

From the Publisher

Recent reviews for Data Munging with Perl
"...Manning Publications continues its fine line of Perl books with the consistent and powerful Data Munging with Perl. Coders looking to transform data somehow and hackers who want to take advantage of Perl's unique features will improve their knowledge and understanding. If you find yourself working with files or records in Perl, this book will save you time and trouble."

"The book's chapters are concise, the coverage is comprehensive, and the examples are plentiful and relevant. I've been using Perl's data munging capabilities heavily for many years, and I still picked up some useful new insights from Cross' book." --Web Techniques magazine

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every cent! 9 Feb 2001
By A Customer
I bought this book solely for the XML parsing section, it explained in four lines what other documentation couldn't in 100 lines. It turns out the other chapters are just as brilliant!
If you do _any_ data manipulation with Perl then GET this book, it explains what Perl data structures(or modules) to use with what data, and then how to use that data structure...
The author writes and thinks like a programmer, so programmers can ultimately understand the topics/concepts and not just cut-paste someone elses code.
I also recommend 'OO Perl' by Damian Conway (same publisher).
These two Manning books are the only other Non-O'Reilly books I own.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Gold - Easy Parsing 16 Mar 2001
This is a juicy, if slim book (283 pages incl index). It is worth its weight in gold, if like me, you are not a perl porter, but inhabit the fat end of the perl expertise pyramid. The author munges for a living, and it shows in a non-academic, on-the-money, practical book on converting, filtering and parsing data. This book adds value, even if like me, you have all the O'Reilly Perl books because (1) it is really easy to understand, (2) it gives a valuable conceptual overview, (3) it gives trench-proven tips, (4) and best of all, it shows you how to do it.
I too found the chapter on Parse::RecDecent easy to understand having struggled with Damian's TPJ article. But this book to get on your way to being an expert munger.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good 2-3 months after "Learning PERL" 4 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This is an excellent book if you have recently started PERL, have got beyond "Learning PERL" but have not got into some of the more advanced books. However, if you have been studying PERL for longer and have read around the subject then much of this book will be old news, and some of the topics are very much "tasters", not imparting sufficient information to use in anger.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The quintessential Perl activity is data processing, particularly in a Unix environment, where output is piped into a script from some other program, transformed, and spat out again. Many people's first encounter with Perl will probably be in this task. David Cross's book shows how to do this with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of flexibility. It's not a Perl tutorial however, so you will need some basic knowledge of Perl, having read The Llama is enough. There is an appendix of 'essential Perl' to refresh your memory if you're a bit rusty.

The book begins by revising some of those basic Perl practices that come in handy for scripting, e.g. command line options, regular expressions and sorting. The second part of the book deals with parsing fairly simple data: traditional fixed-width record data (e.g. the column-based stuff that you often find as the output of old Fortran and C programs), unstructured data (e.g. doing word counts on text files), and formats such as CSV, PNG and MP3. This is the strongest section of the book, and contains lots of useful hands-on information.

The third part of the book deals with more modern forms of data files, in the shape of XML. Parsing HTML also gets a chapter to itself, after the author usefully demonstrates the limitations of any simple solution (e.g. using regexes), which provides pretty strong evidence in favour of the standard 'don't try it yourself, use a CPAN module' argument. The XML chapter itself covers the XML::Parser module in reasonable detail. However, there are now many more XML parsers in Perl out there, and XML::Parser is probably no longer the best solution (Grant McClean's Perl XML FAQ on the net has a good overview of the options).
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