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on 10 January 2003
There are a very large number of Perl CGI books in the shops. Unfortunately the number of good Perl CGI books is far smaller. I'm happy to report that this book is one of them.
The problem, of course, with most Perl CGI books is that they are written by people who just don't know very much Perl. That's certainly not the case here. Both Kevin and Brent are well-respected members of the Perl community and they know what they are talking about when it comes to writing CGI programs in Perl.
Another common mistake in Perl CGI books is that the authors try to take people who know a bit of HTML and teach them programming, Perl and CGI all at the same time. The authors of this book realise that this approach is likely to lead to, at best, patchy understanding of any of these concepts so they aim there book at people who are already programmers and who have some knowledge of Perl. This means that they can concentrate of teaching the parts of Perl that are useful when writing CGI programs.
One corner that is often cut when discussing CGI programming is security. This is a very dangerous approach to take as a badly written CGI program can leave your web server open to attack from anyone on the Internet. That's not a mistake that is made here as the authors introduce security in chapter 2. Add to that the fact that the code examples all use -w, use strict and CGI.pm and the book is already head and shoulders above most of its competition.
Early chapters look at common CGI requirements such as file uploads and cookies. Each chapter is full of well written (and well-explained) sample code. The example of an access counter in chapter 6 even locks the file containing the current count - this is possibly a first in a Perl CGI book!
By the middle of the book we have already moved beyond simple CGI programming and are looking at mod_perl. This chapter covers both the "faux-CGI" Apache::Registry module and also writing complete mod_perl handlers.
In the second half of the book we start to look at some bigger examples. The authors present a web-based email system and even a shopping cart. In order to fit these examples into their respective chapters a couple of corners have been cut, but there's enough information there to enable anyone to write the complete systems.
Chapter 13 introduces the HTML::Mason module as a way to separate content from presentation. It's obvious that the author's are big fans of this module and this leads to my only real criticism of the book. At no point do they mention the fact that the same benefits can be gained from using any of half a dozen templating systems found on the CPAN. I would have been a lot happier if they had mentioned things like Text::Template, HTML::Template and the Template Toolkit before picking HTML::Mason as the system for their example.
There are then two more long chapters with examples of a document management system and image manipulation software. Once more the code in these examples would serve as a greating starting point for anyone wanting to implement something along these lines. The last chapter looks at XML and, in particular, the use of RSS files to provide data feeds to other web sites.
All in all this is a very useful book for someone wanting to write web-based applications using Perl. It's packed full of good advice and code that follows all of the best practices for writing CGI programs in Perl. This book won't teach you Perl, but if you've read Learning Perl or Elements of Programming with Perl then you'll find this book easy enough to follow.
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on 15 April 2003
The previous reviewers have said a lot about this book and I agree with them all. I would just like add that I am the Technical Lead at the IT department for a bookselling company. Before beginning a major e-commerce project, we had to decide whether to use Perl or PHP. This book played a large part in helping me make up my mind that Perl is definitely the way to go. The advantage of PHP is that it appears to be better documented than Perl. However, this is an illusion because there is a lot less to PHP than Perl. Perl enables you to do a lot more, and actually with less work once you get past the learning curve.
This book goes an excellent job of tackingling this problem. It brings many Perl technologies together and explains them beautifully. It is a pleasure to read, and the editting and printing is a model other technical books should follow.
Finally, I think it was pure genius on the part of the authors to include a chapter on Mason in a book about Perl/CGI. And what a chapter it is! This chapter alone blows PHP out of the water and is well worth the price of the book. My thanks to the authors.
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on 14 October 2001
Not an absolute beginners book by any means but with a fair understanding of Perl this book helps you learn line by line using 'real world' CGI programs.
Thought it was great and look forward to the next from the author(s)...
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on 27 September 2001
Very useful book in writing CGI programs with Perl.This book has given me a very good awareness working with databases through web.After reading this book,I found it easier to deal with DBM database files used for authentication through apache..It has lots of stuff useful for a web developer.
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on 23 March 2006
Although I didn't finish its reading yet, the book has revealed itself very clear and easy to read and follow.
It is not the copy-and-paste type of book, although it provides some working examples that can be used in real life applications. Instead it covers the subject, teaches how to do stuff, and gives a simple example to illustrate it.
Nearly every chunk of code is heavily explained, line by line, which sometimes can be a bit confusing because we don't have an initial idea of what the code would do, because it's interleaved with the explanation text. In the end of the chapter it has the listing of the same code, without the explanations.
The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is the fact that the part focusing on tainted mode and tainted variables could be made better. This is an important issue for security reasons and seems to lack some focus on the book. This doesn't mean it is bad; it is just not as good as the rest.
As a final note, the book presumes that the reader already has some knowledge of perl (no need to be a hacker, though) and if html as well (specially forms). Therefore, don't expect to learn perl or html in this book, buy it if you need to learn CGI.
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on 13 January 2002
A brilliant book for beginner, intermediate and advanced Perl programmers. Lots of useful things covered such a mySQL, cookies, smtp and pop email etc... Very good as a reference book also.
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on 6 May 2003
As a person with little knowledge of Perl, initially this book came across as a book which by all intents and purpose a book for learning about CGI concepts, and not a cut and paste type book, unfortunately this turned out not to be the case, the scripts do not work (whether from typing or downloading from the books website), there are numerous typos, which are not mentioned on the site, so rather than being helpful, it can leave you feeling more confused on what is supposed to be happening. You get no response from the authors when you E-Mail, which is not helpful.
I would not recommend this book, overpriced and tainted.
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