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Perl Best Practices Paperback – 22 Jul 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (22 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596001738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596001735
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 550,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"If you are looking for a book to teach you how to program Perl, this is definitely not what you need. Also, if you are cranking out quick Perl scripts to solve one-time tasks, it might not be worth the effort to read this book. However, if you are fairly comfortable with the language and are looking for ways to improve your code, this book would be a wonderful addition to your bookshelf." - James Mohr, Linux Magazine, November 2005

Book Description

Standards and Styles for Developing Maintainable Code

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Format: Paperback
Not only the best Perl book I've ever read, it's also one of the best programming language books, period.

If you've ever programmed C++ or Java, you'll know how revered the likes of Effective C++ and Effective Java are, a series of tips, suggestions, idioms, advice and commandments. This is the equivalent for Perl, except it's even more thorough and covers even more ground, from brace layout and statement formatting, to regexes, unit testing, documentation and command line parsing.

There's also an exceptionally good chapter on object orientation, wherein author Damian Conway guides the reader through the use of his own Class::Std module. If you're using objects in Perl, and you're still rolling your own, you're really making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself. Class::Std provides object features reminiscent of CLOS, and makes Perl competitive with the likes of Python and Ruby when it comes to objects. Class::Std has changed the way I code Perl forever, and I know I'm not the only one. Seriously, this chapter is worth the price of admission on it own.

It's hard to overstate just how much excellent stuff there is in here, there's even useful emacs and vi settings provided! And I've not even mentioned how well written it is. Damian Conway really does prove himself the master of witty examples.

Perl Best Practices is just brilliant. Absolutely essential reading - don't code Perl without it.
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Format: Paperback
The Perl motto "there's more than one way to do it" comes to bite you as you start to write longer and longer codes. Other people's Perl "codes" are often totally intractable and my scripts were probably even worse... Where does it all go wrong? Most of us who "code" in Perl started off writing short scripts to do simple tasks and it just grew - still looking like scripts but longer, meaner and weirder.

The Best Practices starts off with formatting. Seemingly trivial but it really makes a big difference to the legibility of your code. I've taken away the formatting guide to when coding in Matlab too. Small things like spacing makes a big difference:

$average = ($one + $two + three) / 3;

is better than

$average=( $one+$two+$three )/3;

Perl Best Practices consists of a series of do's and don'ts. For example, don't use postfix looping controls like "do {...} while ($ii < 10)". Use "for my $ii (0..10) {...}". Did you also know that for and foreach loop declare their own local loop variable within the for loop? So $ii outside the loop is not the same as inside the loop in the following code:

my $ii = -1;
LOOP:
for $ii (0..10) {
last LOOP if ($ii >= 5);
}
print "$ii\n"; # This prints -1 not 5!

Some of the Best Practices are quite severe but there are lots of useful bits that you can pick and mix. All the best practices are clearly illustrated with don'ts followed by do's (in bold). Those with previous programming experience might even be better off starting with this book (supplemented with some online materials) to avoid picking up bad habits.

This book will make your Perl scripts more readable, more efficient, easier to debug and maintain.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book addresses Perl's biggest problem - that it is unreadable. Here is a bunch of recommendations on how to make your code more supportable, starting with the use of parentheses, white space and singular/plural variable names. All recommendations are clearly explained and argued with examples to show why they are better than the alternatives.

I don't agree with many of his suggestions, but the most important thing with Perl is to have a style guide and that everyone on your team uses it. I'm not about to write my own rules, so I will happily adopt Damian's recommendations for the sake of standardisation.
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