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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction to learning Perl scripting, 14 July 2007
This review is from: Learning Perl (Paperback)
I learnt Perl scripting from the third edition of The Llama, and recently had cause to brush up my Perl for a new job, so I thought I'd check out the fourth edition. I'm pleased to say it's still an excellent work. If you want to use Perl as a scripting language, this may be all you need for your entire scripting career. Some basic programming knowledge might be helpful, but even a complete beginner could get something out of this.

The basics are covered well: strings, numbers, control structures, subroutines, arrays and hashes, and most importantly, reading and writing files, and the mighty regular expressions. In fact, I've not read a better treatment of regular expressions anywhere else. Everything is clearly explained and well-written. Basically, this is the gold standard against which all introductory books to a programming language should be judged.

However, this book makes no claim to covering all of Perl. At least the main text of the book doesn't. I don't know what happened with the blurb on the back of the book, but it mentions, among other things: threading, references, objects, modules and package implementation. Technically, these topics are indeed present, but only in that a paragraph each is devoted to them in Appendix B. You will certainly learn nothing of any value about them.

There are some other minor quibbles: you may find the constant Flintstones references tiring after a while. Also potentially wearing are the sometimes inane footnotes, which breaks the flow of the reading experience for little reward. On the other hand, I found them a lot less annoying in this edition, so perhaps I've just mellowed out in the intervening years. Finally, the last chapter does a very whistlestop tour of map, grep, exception handling with eval, and array and hash slicing. I've never found the 'cram a bunch of stuff we don't have time to talk about into one chapter' approach to be very useful, and it doesn't work here, either. Fortunately, apart from the slices, it's all covered again at slightly greater length in Intermediate Perl.

Speaking of Intermediate Perl, if you want to learn Perl as a general purpose language, rather than for short scripts, you need to go and read that one next. Many suggest that you can graduate onto The Camel straight after The Llama, but I strongly disagree -- I tried and failed miserably.

But as long as you bear in mind you're only getting half the Perl experience, this is still the book I would thrust into the hands of anyone looking to learn Perl.
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