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Perl Debugged Paperback – 27 Mar 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 1 edition (27 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201700549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201700541
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 18.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,120,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

"This book was a joy to read. It covered all sorts of techniques for debugging, including 'defensive' paradigms that will eliminate bugs in the first place. As coach of the USA Programming Team, I find the most difficult thing to teach is debugging. This is the first text I've even heard of that attacks the problem. It does a fine job. Please encourage these guys to write more."–Rob Kolstad

Perl Debugged provides the expertise and solutions developers require for coding better, faster, and more reliably in Perl. Focusing on debugging, the most vexing aspect of programming in Perl, this example-rich reference and how-to guide minimizes development, troubleshooting, and maintenance time resulting in the creation of elegant and error-free Perl code.

Designed for the novice to intermediate software developer, Perl Debugged will save the programmer time and frustration in debugging Perl programs. Based on the authors’ extensive experience with the language, this book guides developers through the entire programming process, tackling the benefits, plights, and pitfalls of Perl programming. Beginning with a guided tour of the Perl documentation, the book progresses to debugging, testing, and performance issues, and also devotes a chapter to CGI programming in Perl. Throughout the book, the authors espouse defensible paradigms for improving the accuracy and performance of Perl code. In addition, Perl Debugged includes Scott and Wright’s "Perls of Wisdom" which summarize key ideas from each of the chapters, and an appendix containing a comprehensive listing of Perl debugger commands.

In this exceptional reference and debugging guide, the authors cover every aspect of efficient Perl programming, including:

  • CGI programming–special tips for debugging this type of Perl program
  • How to develop the proper mindset for developing and programming effectively in Perl
  • Perl "gotchas"–how to understand them, work around them, and avoid them
  • "Antibugging"–the authors’ rules of thumb on how to code defensively
  • The Perl debugger –the authors’ guide to using this Perl built-in
  • Common syntax errors and how to track down their causes
  • Semantical errors–why code may appear correct but the programs do not work
  • How to improve the performance of resource-hungry programs
  • Tips and advice for programmers moving to Perl from other language environments

Focusing on the process of Perl programming and guidelines for identifying and correcting mistakes, Perl Debugged helps the developer to write better Perl programs immediately and become better programmers in general.



0201700549B04062001

About the Author

Ed Wright is a Software Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a Master of Science in Physics from the University of Louisville and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Auburn University. He currently leads the JPL Perl Users Group.

Peter J. Scott runs Pacific System Design Technologies, providing Perl training, application development, and enterprise systems analysis. He was a speaker on the 2002 Perl Whirl cruise and at YAPC::Canada, and he founded his local Perl Monger group. A software developer since 1981 and a Perl developer since 1992, he has also created programs for NASA¿s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Scott graduated from Cambridge University, England, with a Master of Arts Degree in Computer Science and now lives in the Pacific Northwest. He is the lead author of Perl Debugged.



0201700549AB04222004


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The ideal reader of this book would be someone who's been exposed to most of Perl and knows about packages, modules and references (the Llama/Alpaca combo, for instance), but who isn't necessarily experienced with other languages. If you are that sort of person, this should be close to the top of your Perl reading list.

There's an abundance of good material to be found here -- yes, there's an entire chapter on working the Perl debugger, but don't let the book's title fool you, it's not just about debugging. There's also advice on code style and layout, common idioms and features of Perl such as the behaviour of $_, autovivification, local, and optional parentheses.

Additionally, there are introductions to logging (in the context of debug flags), unit testing, code coverage, and error handling. Rounding off the book are chapters on benchmarking, profiling and some simple optimisation techniques (e.g. don't shell out to an external program if you can do the task in perl, use pipes and fork instead of writing to a temporary file), a chapter of tips for programmers coming to Perl from Java, shell scripting, C, C++ and Fortran. Finally there's a chapter covering debugging CGI programs.

Throughout, there's also some more philosophical (or touchy-feely) material, with exhortations to being a good citizen of the Republic of Perl and your work environment. If you're a more experienced developer, and you've read the likes of Code Complete and Refactoring, much of this is either obvious or has been given in more detail in other books, which is why I think the less experienced you are, the more you'll get out of it.

If you've been around the block a couple of times, I think you'll find that while there is a lot of ground covered, it's not particular deep.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Super advice for Perl programmers, and others 14 May 2001
By joe_n_bloe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm tremendously pleased with Perl Debugged. It's half a book about Perl debugging, and half a book with more general advice, all pleasantly blended together. Peter and Ed take you on an unrivaled tour of the ups and downs of Perl debugging. It's sort of like Effective Perl Programming's "Debugging" chapter except hugely and brilliantly expanded. It's comprehensive and imaginative without being pedantic. It covers the Perl debugger (of course), it covers the different types of errors you'll encounter in Perl programs, it covers debugging strategies, and (very important) it covers the always-icky topic of debugging CGI programs. And some other topics ....
Even experienced Perl programmers will enjoy reading this book. You may think you've seen it all but I guarantee you that you haven't seen all of the examples of weirdness featured herein. It reminds me of Kon and Bal's debugging "brainteasers" in Apple's now defunct Develop magazine.
I *highly* recommend Perl Debugged to anyone at the beginning or intermediate stage in Perl programming, particularly to programmers who have less than 2-4 years of debugging experience in general. An experienced programmer, on the other hand, will want to buy a copy (copies?) to browse and then hand to his junior co-worker(s) with stern instructions to "read first, code later." (Reminds me of the time I bought Bugs in Writing.)
Apparently the authors have a way with words. The prose is unusually good--not just by the standards of technical books--colorful, extremely clear, and enjoyable to read. (The illustrations by Peter's sister-in-law are great.) About the only thing that "bugs" me is the authors' use of "semantical" in preference to "semantic."
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great Perl Tips Presented With Humor 2 April 2002
By Philip R. Heath - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a must for perl programmers. Throughout the book, the authors develop 46 "Perls of Wisdom". These guidelines will help you write code with fewer bugs and help you fix bugs when they do come up - and they will! I tend to enjoy software books with a little humor to them, and this one fits the bill. Here are the highlights from the book:
Ch. 1-
Gives some background on the perl language and good tips on accessing the documentation for various parts of perl on various platforms.
Ch. 2-
Kind of a touchy/feely chapter; however, there is wisdom in it. It helps you understand how your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors affect your code. Don't skip it.
Ch. 3-
This chapter gives you some good advice on how to avoid bugs in your program. One of these is documentation. I've found that documenting something makes you think about things you otherwise might not have.
Ch. 4-
Gives some common sources of bugs in perl including syntax, precedence, and regular expressions.
Ch. 5-
How to get formatted printouts of variables in your using Data::Dumper. This is a step up from print statements, and is easy to use.
Ch. 6-
Includes good information on testing your code and the perl modules available to assit you in test harnesses and coverage tests.
Ch. 7-
This is the gem of the book. It is a step by step guide to using the perl debugger. If reading man pages makes your head hurt, you will find this tutorial much more user friendly.
Ch. 8-
An excellent chapter on interpreting the syntax error reports that perl spits out.
Ch. 9-
The runtime exception counterpart to the previous chapter. It contains a discussion of perl exception handling vs. that of java or c++.
Ch. 10-
This chapter deals with the tough topic of code that compiles and runs, but gives the wrong answer. It gives techinques for seeing how perl interpreted your code.
Ch. 11-
This chapter gives you advice for improving performance using the Benchmark module.
Ch. 12-
A nice comparison to other languages. If you are fluent in another programming language, it is helpful to know how the it compares to perl.
The examples in this book are what make it the most useful. They show you how to use various perl modules to make your code better. Being new to the language, I wasn't even aware that some of these modules existed. Unless you are a perl master already, you should find plenty of useful information in Perl Debugged.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ideal for the neophyte programmer 16 July 2007
By Thing with a hook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The ideal reader of this book would be someone who's been exposed to most of Perl and knows about packages, modules and references (the Llama/Alpaca combo, for instance), but who isn't necessarily experienced with other languages. If you are that sort of person, this should be close to the top of your Perl reading list.

There's an abundance of good material to be found here -- yes, there's an entire chapter on working the Perl debugger, but don't let the book's title fool you, it's not just about debugging. There's also advice on code style and layout, common idioms and features of Perl such as the behaviour of $_, autovivification, local, and optional parentheses.

Additionally, there are introductions to logging (in the context of debug flags), unit testing, code coverage, and error handling. Rounding off the book are chapters on benchmarking, profiling and some simple optimisation techniques (e.g. don't shell out to an external program if you can do the task in perl, use pipes and fork instead of writing to a temporary file), a chapter of tips for programmers coming to Perl from Java, shell scripting, C, C++ and Fortran. Finally there's a chapter covering debugging CGI programs.

Throughout, there's also some more philosophical (or touchy-feely) material, with exhortations to being a good citizen of the Republic of Perl and your work environment. If you're a more experienced developer, and you've read the likes of Code Complete and Refactoring, much of this is either obvious or has been given in more detail in other books, which is why I think the less experienced you are, the more you'll get out of it.

If you've been around the block a couple of times, I think you'll find that while there is a lot of ground covered, it's not particular deep. It's good to have issues like unit testing, profiling, benchmarking and logging introduced, but you'll quickly have to look elsewhere for more detailed (not to mention up-to-date) information for use in your own code. If you've read the likes of Effective Perl Programming, Perl Testing and of course, the mighty Perl Best Practices, there's not a lot left to see. However, chapter 8 presents some neat puzzlers, where a seemingly innocuous piece of code is suffering from a missing, misplaced or transposed character, and some useful tips for interpreting the syntax errors are presented.

Overall, this is nicely written in an unfussy, friendly style which assumes the reader is not a complete beginner. Ungrizzled non-veterans of Perl should consider this well worth taking a look at, especially as a companion to Perl Medic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Finally 22 Jun. 2008
By Michael P. Quinn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Finally, a book not only on how to use the debugger, but when and why to use the debugger. Great quick read that will add another level to your perl programming that is uncommonly used, but incredibly powerful.
Valid and useful points for the critical operation of debugging Perl programs 1 Sept. 2008
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am what the authors occasionally describe as a diehard C/C++/Java programmer and have taught this style of language for over 20 years. My experience with Perl is enough to be able to program at the reasonable level and I taught a course in programming with Perl several years ago.
To the programmer accustomed to the syntax of C-like languages, the structure and idioms of Perl can be difficult to understand. Using it well is similar to learning a second spoken language, where phrases that are superficially imprecise, such as "take a hike", can be difficult to translate.
Once you learn the language, the next and most significant step is to learn to test the code so that errors are reduced and hopefully eliminated. This is the step where knowledge of the idioms is most critical, because before you can successfully debug, you must understand.
That is the level at which this book is written, if you pick it up and are not familiar with Perl, then it will do you little to no good. However, if you do know the language well enough to program in it, then the tactics described here will be very helpful in your goal of creating a functional and error-free Perl program. While that statement is more applicable to the programmers that have come to Perl from other languages, even veterans of the Perl programming wars will find points of value.
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