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The Definitive Guide to Catalyst: Writing Extensible, Scalable and Maintainable Perl-Based Web Applications (Expert's Voice in Web Development) Paperback – 9 Jul 2009

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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About the Author

Kieren Diment is a social researcher in the School of Management and Marketing, University of Wollongong, Australia, where he uses Catalyst for the collection analysis and presentation of research data. He has taken the lead in a significant portion of the Catalyst documentation including the Catalyst Advent Calendar in 2006 and 2007. His focus has been on ensuring a culture of documentation by example in the project, and ensuring that instructional documentation points to working example code wherever possible.

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3.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Catalyst is one of the most interesting projects to come out of the Perl community in the last few years. Originating as a fork of the Maypole web framework, Catalyst has grown into the de facto standard for building web application using Perl. Its power and flexibility make it a great choice for many web-based projects.

But often great power and flexibility goes hand in hand with complexity. I've used Catalyst in simple ways on a couple of projects but I had always suspected that I wasn't getting everything that I could out of the software. What I really needed was a good book that explained the best way to get the most out of Catalyst. With this book I think I've got what I was looking for. The book is written by two core members of the Catalyst team. They obviously know exactly what they are talking about and lead the reader confidently through the complexities of Catalyst.

Catalyst, like other well-known web frameworks like Django or Ruby on Rails, uses the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern. This book doesn't assume that you are already familiar with this pattern and chapter 1 explains the underlying concepts in some detail. It also takes time to compare the Catalyst way of doing things with CGI applications and to compare Catalyst itself with other Perl frameworks like CGI::Application and Jifty.

Chapter 2 gets you started by discussing how to install Catalyst. This can be difficult as Catalyst requires a large number of other Perl libraries to be installed, and this section explains the easiest way to do with by using Perl's built-in features. This chapter also contains an introduction to Object Oriented programming in Perl using Moose.
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Lots of errors in book, not great for learning Catalyst. It is a hands on work by example book, so not great if the examples dosn't work. On a positive note it will make you a debugging expert.
Looked like an updated variant of "Catalyst Accelerating Perl Web Application Development", but had so many errors, so I went back to the original.
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By Peco on 29 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
I think it is the right book if you already know very well what Catalyst is and if it fits your needs.
If you want to use it to discover Catalyst and analyse the engine. I'd propose another solutions, cheaper and faster. Just the web.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars 12 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Guide to Catalyst is mostly a tutorial with some good fundamental discussions on design 28 Mar. 2013
By Jack V. Briner - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've found that Catalyst (as a product) is lacking in reference material. There are a couple of tutorials online that are helpful, There is even one that comes with its on virtual disk image so that you can get a jump on the product to help decide if this is the way you want to go.

After spending a couple of days with Catalyst, I decided that it would be difficult to develop and document with an existing code base. I am fighting with about 80K lines of code written over a ten year period. I needed to develop a framework to allow the code to grow with demands on the system. I did not feel comfortable that I could use Catalyst around the existing code and to build a framework for the long run. I feel much more comfortable building a solid class structure that I can add incrementally to the existing code and take the code to the next level. So, I am back to some of the more basic CPAN packages and am focusing on good design.

I was hoping this book would act as a reference manual so that I could get a view of the internals and functionality. However, it does not seem to be organized in such a way. That being the case, I suggest that you check out the tutorials online to make a decision if you want to use Catalyst. If you decide on Catalyst this book's tutorial style, you will find it is a good book that provides solid examples, good design methods, information on databases and lots of basic software design discussion and comments on style.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with errors and poorly conceived 1 Aug. 2012
By Drewp - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Over the years I've become somewhat inured to the astonishingly low quality standards in the tech publishing industry, but in this case I'll be asking the publisher for a refund.

Doesn't anyone in this business hire proofreaders? Virtually every code sample presented in the first three chapters has at least one error (c'mon people, there's a difference between one underscore and two, right?).

And I'm sure the authors are fine programmers, but they're dreadful writers of expository prose. This book is just begging for a mile-high overview explaining, in general terms, what the various MVC components do and how they fit together. Instead what we get is a brief, jargon-filled tour of these concepts, followed by a leap into an error-filled sample application. (At first I dutifully noted every error but gave up midway through Chapter 4.)

I can easily forgive poorly written documentation when the people writing it aren't being paid for their effort. But when I pay $30+ for a book, I expect the publisher to have at least proofread the thing.

By the way, I'm not a complete Perl noob. I've been using it for several years and have benefited greatly from the generosity of the many good folks who have contributed code to CPAN. To them, I am grateful; to the authors of this book, not so much.

*It earns one star simply for being a book on Catalyst.

UPDATE (June 11, 2013): I'm working through the book a second time, after having read the Catalyst manual and worked through the Catalyst tutorial on CPAN. It's even worse this time around. The number of errors is atrocious, and many of them are obvious to anyone paying any attention (e.g., a module identified on one page as DBAuthTest::Controller::AuthUsers is referred to as DBICTest::Controller::AuthUsers just a few pages later). The code samples in the book often don't even agree with the archived code provided on the publisher's Web site. And the authors make no use of graphics to illustrate the complex relationships between the various MVC components. Worst of all, the publishers obviously didn't bother to proofread or edit this book. Even the grammar is poor in places. So I've requested a full refund. The book may be useful at some point as a reference for "best practices," but it's nothing but frustration as a learning tutorial.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on modern Perl, Catalyst 21 Sept. 2009
By Sanjay Mishra - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book not only for Catalyst but also for modern Perl. Perl usage has evolved over the last years, and this book covers techniques and modules that are the most useful as of 2009.

Perl 5 core has been stable for quite some time. However modules and usage have evolved. Even if you don't plan to use Catalyst, read this book for the peripheral knowledge the book pulls in.

For example, I was pleasantly surprised to see nginx mentioned as a potential Web server to use. This to me meant that the book is not a quick job done by an author gathering materials over the web, but a labor of love written by somebody who has hands on experience with the modern Web.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Incremental to the POD documentation, but disappointing. 12 Oct. 2009
By Fake Name - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've used Perl for about ten years, and have experience with all of the "pre-Catalyst" frameworks and helpers (from to CGI::Application to dalliances with writing my own and trying Jifty). I've also used Rails and read several books on it (most of which are disappointments).

Unfortunately, I found this guide a disappointment as well. Most of the book seems to be structured around a few "examples," the largest of which is a translation app from English into "Lolcat." The problem with such an app as an example is that it could readily be done in a dead-simple, several-line CGI script (hell, even a one-liner could probably do it), so it requires a certain suspension of disbelief that one should be using stashes, chained dispatch methods, templates, and the like. Why not a normal CRUD type app as an example? Boring, yes, but to-the-point and more likely to be illustrative of the tools and their best applications.

The conversational "flow" of the book is distracting, as well. I understand that a more tabular or outlined form for making specific information easier to find could render it hard to read "straight through" as a book. But the sheer volume of information, and diversity of scenarios, make it unlikely that anyone will read it straight through and make equal use of all parts. Far better to organize the content more rigorously by function -- for example, the best and best-structured chapter by far is the chapter on dispatch (it gets to borrow for its prose structure from the flow chart on page 168. Less in-depth meanderings into such adjuncts as DBIx::Class and Moose, but more on how (if at all) such outside modules must interface / play nice with the Catalyst core. A chapter on errors. A chapter on logging. A chapter on templating.

The index is a mess and lazily put together. Under "log", only one entry: "Logging, in Catalyst, 7." (Are you serious? who wrote that index entry? Logging, comma, IN CATALYST?!? SERIOUSLY??) For "error:" "error handling code, changing to output errors to the log, 104-105." Nothing for "exception" (fair enough, as Perl properly has none), but under Perl's equivalent, "die:" "die, using for error handling, 156." WTF? Finding these three sections shouldn't be an Easter-egg hunt. WTF would be wrong with:

using "die" ... 156
logging ... 104-105
see also *log*

log ... 7
errors ... 104-105

I'm rooting for Matt & co., and I'm a fan of Catalyst. But this book needs a reworking for its next edition, and it needs an editor (the typography, too, is underwhelming). It's not that the team that wrote this isn't smart enough, or that they don't know the subject well enough. It's merely that they need to structure, structure, structure, and clarify, clarify, clarify. Looking forward to second edition, guys.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Took a second read to make it come together 19 Oct. 2012
By Laidback Jack - Published on
Format: Paperback
My level of experience with Perl and Catalyst was near zero - about a year ago when i bought this book. That being said, my first attempts at reading and understanding were rather feeble. The IRC channel is great and useful, but it's rather apparent that a fellow needs to have a reasonable understanding of perl in general to make any use of Catalyst and therefore this book.

So, after reading a number of other books, I came back to this after asking a quetion in #catalyst ( and got a "Hey, did you know that's in the Catalyst book? You should read that" kind of response. While this might have seemed trite on the surface, the amount of lights which turned on and doors that flew open was amazing. I read this book without a computer in front of me a couple nights ago, and that's frustrating with the lack of interaction, but it's helpful having 'foreknowledge' of the text when you are actually working through it later.

One thing about the POD or Docs on cpan is they are stunningly prolific. Wow is there a lot to read... and which order? The authors have taken the time to actually organize things in a manner that helps a guy like me make inroads and progress.

All in all, I'd recommend this book - after you have a good handle on perl itself. Anyway, read Programming Perl first and chromatic's Modern Perl, and then you'd probably really awesome with Catalyst. I've done it all bass-ackwards - tried to learn Catalyst first, read this book, got all sorts of bent out of shape, read Programming Perl, and then Modern Perl, and then this again. What a difference a bit of knowledge makes.

Perl is a fantastic language, and Catalyst is a rather stunning framework for it. This book is a must-have imho.
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