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on 29 March 2001
I dived straight into Perl with this book (rather than picking up Learning Perl - I'm a skint student!) and actually found it alright. The book itself is excellent and well written - it almost makes bedtime reading. If you are new to programming, find a learning book first. However, if you've got any experience with other languages, you should find this has enough to get you started. After that, the book is an amazing reference. It not only has all the gory details you could want but is packed with interesting snippets of code that fits with the Perl motto, "There's more than one way to do it". The authors frequently show you how TMTOWTDI and you come away from reading this book full of fresh ideas. I'm now totally hooked to Perl - it's one of those things where you keep thinking, "If only I'd learnt Perl earlier, it would have made that task far simpler"! I'm off to buy the cookbook...
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on 3 August 2001
... and the 'Camel Book' is the perfect companion.
I have used Perl for over 7 years and I am ordering my 3rd copy. I tend to have this book lying open under my keyboard and every now and then it also soaks up my coffee.
I learned Perl by looking at examples and reading using this book. If you read the book (and understand most) you are off to a good start.
I have seen several persons having difficulties accepting the way Perl works - therefore I would say that Perl has a high learning curve. I say this with a personal conflict because the simple jobs are so simple in Perl and the complex jobs can have so elegant solutions. But take care - in Perl the simple problems also have very complex solutions.
If you have done some C/C++ programming and some shell programming Perl should be no problem - but read the book anyway - there are some important issues that you need to learn. If you don't you will never fall in love.
The book has a practical approach to programming (I guess that's the essence of Larry) and therefore you will find an overview section, details section, and reference guide. The book also has some very honest sections like optimizing section and common 'goofs' section.
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on 10 August 2012
If you already program in Perl you know that "Programming Perl" is the de facto reference of the language. I haven't met Perl Mongers citing randomly from it, but we are not that far from it :) . If you're new to Perl, well now you know what you will be reading soon.

This brings us to the targeted public of this book and that's a tricky question. In my opinion, if you're new to Perl -or new to programming- you are better served by "Learning Perl" (or a similar book). On the other hand, if you are an experienced programmer you'll learn Perl from "Programming Perl" with a deep understanding of the language as a bonus. But 1184 pages may be a little too much to get your feet wet.

Don't return the book to Amazon yet or you take the tutorial-road: your copy will serve you well for years to come as reference for the less obvious aspects of the language (and let's be honest, there are several). So, this book is not a tutorial book. It's neither, unlike what I just wrote, a pure reference book. The book is very well written, with just enough humour (also: as not "too much") to make the 1184 pages digestible to get a deeper insight of the language, something that can not be said of many reference books that are written in a "phone book" style.

The previous versions dates from the year 2000 and covers ancient perls preceding the Perl revival and modernisation we're enjoying today. Well, if this book is so important for the language -the codification of the language as it were- and well written to be enjoyable, the authors should be lucky to not face trial for the Perl riots while waiting for the update of the book. More seriously, the update was indeed urgently needed and kudos to the authors: writing this kind of book (content and reputation) is hard. It helps that Larry, the creator of Perl, is part of the team. A great read.

Discuss the review at [...]
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on 7 November 2000
If you want to learn perl, go buy O'Reilly's other book, "Learning Perl". I can recommend it.
If you program in perl regularly, I am sure you already have this book (else how can you have survived?), so I don't need to write this review for you.
For those who have learned perl, but feel the need for a reference on it, this is that reference.
It is well written, and I read all 600-plus pages of it from cover to cover (though not at one sitting!). This was the first time I'd found this in a computing book, and I have to say the experience converted me both to Perl and to O'Reilly.
If you are REALLY serious about perl programming, there are two other good books that fill complimentary niches: "Perl Cookbook" (solutions to common tasks in Perl), and "Advanced Perl Programming". But before you buy them, you need this book in order to be able to understand them.
The book is also an excellent insight into the eclectic mind of the author.
If I were to have a gripe about this book, it's that it has really handy one-liners scattered all over the place, but they are not collated into an accessible list anywhere, so until you get to know the book like the back of your hand, you have to flip through it, saying "I *know* I saw a really elegant way of doing that in a footnote somewhere here...".
also, a quickref card, like that in "HTML: the definitive guide" would be really handy. But then, that's what the perl 5 pocket reference is for.
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on 25 September 2008
This book makes good bed time reading, but it is no good for learning in a hurry. The book contains humorous comments and anecdotes, but these are just annoying to someone trying to learn in a hurry. The book is structured for somebody who wants to write a compiler for perl rather than a user of perl. Chapters often contains vague references to other chapters of the book that are difficult to follow, and end up in a dog eared book as you continuously search for references.

The idiomatic english is probably not suitable to non english speakers with technical english.
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on 15 January 2001
As a Windows addict and mainframe developer, neither PERL nor O'Reilly figured much in my life until last year when I decided to kick the habit and look into Unix and a career shift into web development.
Not knowing anything about PERL, and desperately wishing to conquer CGI, I bought "Learning Perl, 2nd Ed.," and "Programming Perl, 2nd Ed." and I got there. I'm still getting there, but I find this book an indespensable aid to understanding PERL language and technique.
Any programmer worth his salt, and with experience in other languages, should be able to dive straight in here and get something positive out of it. The book is well written and presented throughout, and isn't too dry or joyless (some of us actually enjoy Larry's writing style, his humour and his philosophical asides).
My 2nd Ed. is a little battle-worn so I'm back to buy the 3rd version.
In my own experience, this is an essential addition to my extensive library. However, if like me, you had problems with Regular Expressions, then please also consider "Mastering Regular Expressions," another excellent O'Reilly title by Jeff Freidl, as a companion volume.
Enjoy!
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on 14 March 2009
This is the book I learned Perl from - or at least tried to. All the information you need is in here, but it is not always easy to find, and the authors often seem more interested in explaining implementation details than broad concepts which might actually help you understand the language.

In general, the prose is awfully verbose: this book could be halved in length and become a lot more readable in the process. The style is discursive and digressive, and cluttered with lame attempts at humour.

This book is very much like Perl itself: useful, but untidy, annoying and difficult to follow. I learned a lot more from Tom Christiansen's superb Perl Cookbook, and the nice little Perl Pocket Reference.
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on 14 July 2007
Perl seems capable of evoking both rapturous adoration and abject disgust from those who are exposed to it. If your feelings are closer to the former than the latter, well, you probably own this book already, and you love it.

After all, The Camel consists of the God of Perl and two Perl demigods writing the definitive reference about Perl from top to bottom. What's not to love? In particular, if you've ever heard Larry Wall give a talk, you'll be able to spot his contributions: droll, parenthetical and punning.

For those of us who just like Perl (or even just have to work with it), it's not quite as essential as you might have been led to believe. In part this might be because the third edition is getting on a bit, and plenty of other good Perl books have emerged in the intervening time. And in part, it's because definitive tomes such as this one by definition contain large chunks that you don't need, where you'll spend most of your time just nodding and thinking 'yep, I already know that'.

But of course, there's always a few bits you didn't know, and that's where The Camel comes in handy. The first part of the book, which goes over the core of the language, is a must read in this respect. To be honest, I didn't find the explanations to be quite as cogent as what can be found elsewhere (e.g. Perl Best Practices or Advanced Perl Programming), but it's all in one place here.

In addition, beyond the core language, lots of other material is present, including: threading, details on Perl's internals, and a long list of Perl idioms and dos and don'ts. There's also the reference section, which covers the built in functions, and briefly outlines what's in the standard packages that come with Perl, which is also helpful, although in most cases I expect an internet search (or the perl man pages) is just as fast, and in the case of the standard library, provides more information.

On the one hand, I think you can get by without owning this. On the other you will not regret buying this book -- Perl has enough quirks that it's nice to have The Camel close to hand. Nice, but not essential.
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Once again, O'Reilly have produced an excellent reference work.
This book is probably not a great book to buy if you don't know anything about Perl and have no programming experience. But, if you have previous programming experience or are already familiar with Perl, you'll find this book an invaluable reference source to keep close to hand.
Just about anything you'll need to look up while writing even the most complex of Perl scripts can be found quickly in this book.
I'm a Web Developer for a large UK ISP and this book is continually in use. It's the only Perl book in the office, and the only one needed! I'd highly recommend this book.
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on 26 May 2012
As expected, a thorough presentation of one of the most powerful computer languages today. I have been using this language for a few years, for projects ranging from one liners to full blown network daemons, and I think mostly anything can be done with it. Even after all these years, the book gave me a lot of information, on how this great language came to be, how it works, and how it should be used. The book is easy to read, with good examples. The language is presented in a funny way, and the whole book is infused by the freedom and power given to the programmer bz Perl.
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