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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Functional Programming meets Perl, this is something special, 4 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Higher Order Perl (Paperback)
In a book market awash with teach-yourself-in-x-time-units, cookbooks, and API tutorials, Higher-Order Perl is ambitious. It attempts to bring functional techniques to Perl, leaning heavily on two language features: closures, and functions as first-class entities. To enjoy this book you need to be completely comfortable with Perl's syntax, there's lots of code to read and digest, and if you can't follow it, you're going to get lost very quickly, because there are lots of new concepts going to be thrown your way. There's no outlandish symbol table hacking, almost no object orientation, not even much use of modules, but it is in a very different style to most of the Perl you're used to.

If, like me, most of the programming languages you're familiar with are more closely related to C than Lisp, this is going to be a challenging read. It's going to take you a long time to get through this book, and it'll probably require re-reading (more than once) to fully get it all. This is a book bursting at the seams with ideas, beginning with recursion, and then onto caching, iterators, streams and currying. The last two chapters show how to apply these techniques to parsing and declarative programming, and they feel like mini books in themselves. Applications of the code range from classics like Tower of Hanoi, Fibonacci sequences and the Newton Raphson method, to more practical material including databases, tied files, and directory walking.

Part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much may be because I have no formal training in Computer Science, and of course, the likes of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and The Little Schemer contain similar concepts. But for someone without functional programming experience it's great to have it in Perl. Lispniks, MLers and Haskellites may well be familiar with these ideas already, but they should consider this an enticing 'gateway book' for Perl programmers. And Introduction to Functional Programming using Haskell just isn't as well-written as HOP. There's no hiding from the fact that if you want to fully appreciate the material here, you're going to have to work hard at it, but Mark Jason Dominus does a great job at stopping things from feeling like a textbook, and knows how to inject some wit into the proceedings without being distracting. Full marks to Morgan Kaufmann for the layout and overall production quality, too.

I keep The Camel, Perl Cookbook and Perl Best Practices on my desk when programming Perl. HOP is not going to be joining them (yet), it's not that sort of a book. Instead it's a very different intellectual pleasure and easily one of my favourite and most important Perl books (only PBP edges it out due to the latter's everyday practicality). If you're serious about Perl, you need to read this book. If you're serious about programming, ditto. Hell, this might just be a good enough reason to learn Perl if you don't already (admittedly, the chances of such a person reading this far are small).

HOP has set the bar very high. Python and Ruby authors, please step up!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well Chosen Title!, 26 July 2007
Daniel Otterburn (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Higher Order Perl (Paperback)
As the title suggests, this book is about advancing your programming techniques in Perl and is definitely not for the beginner. I had used some of the techniques before, though largely without being fully aware of the "theory", but most were either entirely new to me or concepts that I had previously considered to be the domain of the true guru (and well out of my reach). And this despite being a professional Perl programmer for over 4 years!

Mark Jason Dominus works carefully through a number of well explained examples, illustrating how and why each technique should or could be implemented, and developing each example as the book progresses. Though I found myself frequently having to re-read his often terse code examples and though I cannot claim to have understood _every_ techinque well enough to implement it, I have found that I have used at least one of the techniques he describes in almost every script or module I have written since I finsihed the first chapter!

I would say that this book is an absolute must for any serious Perl programmer who does not already consider him or herself to be at guru status.

Buy it, read it, understand it (eventually) and become a better programmer!

(It occurs to me that for those with a more formal training in Computer Science, the techniques described may not be quite a revelatory as they were for me, however the implementation examples in Perl will still, undoubtedly, be extremely useful.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars File this book next to your copy of Knuth, 19 Mar. 2008
D. Brennan (Marlbrough, Wiltshire England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Higher Order Perl (Paperback)
I echo all the reviews so far this book is all about the "Art" of computer programming, and as such is comparable to Knuth's work, than the usual Cookbook.

Its always great when a book teaches you things that you have forgotten or don't know. The description of Scope, Duration and Lexical closure in chapter 3, wakes you up to the fact that just because this language looks like C its not C.

Perl is a language that I use all the time, as its very easy to build stuff that works. This book makes you think about some of the stuff that you have produced over the years, and wonder if you could have done better.

Mark Dominus and friends have reminded us that programming is not just about function, but is about style, method and art.
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Higher Order Perl
Higher Order Perl by Mark Jason Dominus (Paperback - Mar. 2005)
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