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Are these Perl Textbooks Good?

by Svetlana (Novice)
on Sep 23, 2016 at 18:44 UTC ( #1172488=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Svetlana has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:


New to the forum. Have a simple question. I going to make an effort and learn Perl. I tend toward using text books rather than the internet. Are these books any good? I'm aware you have to be careful as some books/websites teach bad practices.

It's a series teaching Perl. Perl is now at 5.24, but the book covers 5.14. Is there that much of a difference? Would purchasing the book be a bad choice?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Are these Perl Textbooks Good?
by perldigious (Priest) on Sep 23, 2016 at 19:04 UTC

    Hi Svetlana,

    I personally found Learning Perl 6th Edition to be a fantastic book for learning the rudiments of Perl. I have a heavily highlighted and annotated copy that I keep as a reference when I forget how to do things I haven't done in awhile. I highly recommend it.

    I actually just received my copy of Intermediate Perl in the mail yesterday, so I can't comment on that yet, but I'm expecting it to be similarly helpful in establishing a good foundation of other basic things about the Perl language.

    UPDATE: Also, don't worry too much about the version difference. I started on version 5.22 even though the book was written under the earlier version, and I didn't run in to any problems. You can probably skip Chapter 15 of Learning Perl that covers Smart Match and Given-When, or at least leave them until you complete the rest of the book. Both of those things are experimental in the current version of Perl so they could change or be taken out completely. That said, I do shamelessly use Smart Match on occasion purely for debugging purposes, but not for "production" code of any kind.

    I love it when things get difficult; after all, difficult pays the mortgage. - Dr. Keith Whites
    I hate it when things get difficult, so I'll just sell my house and rent cheap instead. - perldigious

      No recommendation for books, but if you're interested in the discussions on smartmatch, here's a thread that cropped up on the p5p mailing list and has been ongoing for a couple weeks relating to the fate of smartmatch in the next release (5.26.0).

        Thanks for the link stevieb. It's good to know it's still being actively discussed, though I get the impression from the conversation the verdict is still very much out as to what will ultimately be done (if anything).

        I was also curious enough to try to quick Google and perldoc search what they might have been talking about with the Smart Match overloading $x~~, but after not finding an explanation immediately and upon deeper reflection I decided that no... no this probably is one keyhole I don't want to look through. :-)

        I love it when things get difficult; after all, difficult pays the mortgage. - Dr. Keith Whites
        I hate it when things get difficult, so I'll just sell my house and rent cheap instead. - perldigious
      Hi perldigious , Many thanks for your reply. Much appreciated.
Re: Are these Perl Textbooks Good?
by Discipulus (Abbot) on Sep 23, 2016 at 20:32 UTC
    buy the first, print your copy of ModernPerl and take a look to PerlCookbook: it is very aged but was a wonderful panorama for me. I did'nt liked very much Intermediate Perl but generally speaking all O'Reilly Perl books are good quality ones.

    About version differences, Perl is very strong in backward compatibilty, so you'll never learn something no more valid. A perldelta is available for all versions: and yes was a big improvement from 5.14 to 5.24 but books are still fully valid.


    There are no rules, there are no thumbs..
    Reinvent the wheel, then learn The Wheel; may be one day you reinvent one of THE WHEELS.

      I second this. I learn much better by example than straightforward lecturing. The Perl Cookbook is nothing but examples; ISBN 9780596003135. Most of the code is dated but all of it is instructive and if you understand it, itís easy to make the leap to the modules and practices that have replaced much of it. Replacements that were not out of necessity but usually, in my view, toward elegance, terseness, reusability, and clarity.

Re: Are these Perl Textbooks Good?
by Your Mother (Archbishop) on Sep 23, 2016 at 19:13 UTC

    I also like books. My view is: yes, all those books are worth owning. You might try this first: Modern Perl. Available in print or free PDF or pay-as-you-please. You could skim the PDF and decide if you want to own the print version.

Re: Are these Perl Textbooks Good?
by stevieb (Canon) on Sep 23, 2016 at 23:57 UTC

    I, too, much prefer reading on paper than I do online. I remember my earlier Perl years where I'd print out freely available Perl books on my work printer after hours, just to take them home to read them.

    I like the O'Reilly books, as others have stated. A bit more advanced than what the OP has asked, I'd like to throw out Learning Perl Modules, References and Objects by merlyn (Randal Schwartz) and Tom Phoenix. This was instrumental in me finally grasping Perl references.

    One of my very favourite books is one by Dominus (Mark-Jason Dominus) which he's gracefully offered for free, Higher-Order Perl (I have a printed copy from when it was available via PDF with tons of scratch notes in margins, plus a purchased edition). This book contains many things I still don't grasp.

    So a couple of recommendations for the intermediate-advanced Perl programmer.

    A pointer for the OP: If the book doesn't use & before subroutine calls, and has use strict; and use warnings in most of the code examples, you're probably good. Perl is Perl is Perl, and since even 5.6 (or 5.8), the overall techniques used today haven't changed very much.

Re: Are these Perl Textbooks Good?
by ExReg (Priest) on Sep 23, 2016 at 20:25 UTC

    I also prefer books over the internet (I have thousands of them at home), although I find myself going to the internet more frequently for quick answers. The books you mentioned are all excellent. I have them all and have learned much from them. I prefer the O'Reilly books, but I also have about 10 other Perl books from other publishers. One that you did not list that I consider a must is "Programming Perl" (the Camel book) co-authored by Larry Wall himself. It is a harder read, but is a super reference on all things Perl. As you get more adept at Perl, there are a few other good books, like "Higher-Order Perl."

    I don't think that using an edition or two too old will hurt. I do not have the latest editions of the books, but then again, here at work, I don't have the latest versions of Perl either.

Re: Are these Perl Textbooks Good?
by eyepopslikeamosquito (Bishop) on Sep 23, 2016 at 21:23 UTC
Re: Are these Perl Textbooks Good?
by Laurent_R (Canon) on Sep 24, 2016 at 17:02 UTC

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