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Beginning Perl (Expert'S Voice In Open Source) Paperback – 14 Apr 2010
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About the Author
James Lee is a hacker and open-source advocate based in Illinois. He holds a master's degree from Northwestern University, and he can often be seen rooting for the Wildcats during football season. As founder of Onsight, Lee has worked as a programmer, trainer, manager, writer, and open-source advocate. Lee coauthored Hacking Linux Exposed, Second Edition, as well as Open Source Web Development with LAMP. He enjoys hacking Perl and has written many articles on Perl for Linux Journal. Lee also enjoys developing software for the Web, reading, traveling and, most of all, playing with his kids, who are too young to know why dad's favorite animals are penguins and camels.
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For example, the chapter on regular expressions does not discuss conceptually how they are built of atoms and metacharacters. Instead, the author just begins with literal matches, then gives examples of various metacharacters and their use. So instead of a deep structural understanding of regexes, the reader gets only a list of metacharacters that can be used to check for matches of different kinds. The tools become instrumental rather than conceptual.
So much bad code gets written by folks who learn solely from books like this. They know how to manipulate certain tools to get certain results, but they have no actual understanding of the craft or the language.
The book is also structured poorly. The examples keep using functions that haven't been introduced yet, and the only explanation is: "We'll find out what this function is doing in chapter #foo." Surely the author could have rewritten the example not to use that function. But the reader ends up just taking code on faith, not really understanding what's going on in the big picture, focusing only on the one narrow statement that is immediately relevant to what the author is trying to illustrate. It's another indication of the superficial approach to code.
The production values are surprisingly shoddy. The font size is tiny, and how dark it is changes from one page to the next. The chapter on regexes (again) is, for no reason that I can fathom, printed in a font rather smaller than the rest of the chapters.
Although the book is clear and approachable, I got put off by its superficiality and lame humor. I gave up and purchased Learning Perl 6e by Randal Schwartz et al. That one is much more thorough in explaining how the language actually works, rather than being a sampler of the tools the language provides. Don't waste your money on this one.