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Mastering Perl/Tk

by jlongino (Parson)
on Feb 10, 2002 at 22:18 UTC ( #144517=bookreview: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
Order Mastering Perl/Tk

Item Description: Graphical interfaces with Perl

Review Synopsis: Highly recommended.  *****

At the same time I ordered Practical PostgreSQL, I ordered this book at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Fortunately, this one didn't disappoint me. This book lived up to all the hype I'd heard, and had begun to anticipate, two months before it was available.

The index and table of contents are excellent (a must for any good reference book). The index seems very thorough and takes up about 30 pages. The table of contents, and thus the book, is laid out in a manner that makes it easy to find topics/subtopics of interest.

There is a 60-page appendix table "Options and Default Values for Each Widget" which I've already placed a stickem on for quick reference. The appendix would have been even more invaluable if each widget (and possibly some lesser used/known attributes) had a page number reference so one doesn't have to find an entry there, and then have to look it up a second time in the index to find more details.

There is also another appendix that contains complete program listings for fun/useful programs like progress bars, MP3 player, RPN calculator, etc. They are useful as extensive examples of Perl/Tk code, if nothing else. The only downside is that there are no electronic copies (CD or web links) to these programs and some are rather lengthy.

Although I consider myself a rank beginner with Perl/Tk, I believe that it will also serve as an invaluable reference to advanced users of Perl/Tk and have heard from at least one or two monks via CB that it is far superior to Nancy Walsh's first book Learning Perl/Tk.


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Re: Mastering Perl/Tk
by sparkyichi (Deacon) on Feb 11, 2002 at 01:01 UTC
    How valuable the information you had learned from the book? I read the Learning Perl/Tk from cover to cover. While I was able to do some nifty things, I found that most of it did not look appealing and was of marginal usefulness. After reading the Mastering Perl/TK book, could I create production level apps that look and feel professional?

      Excellent questions. I'll attempt to answer them but as I said in my review: I consider myself a rank beginner with Perl/Tk. Having made that clear, unfortunately, the answer is: It depends . . .

      My experience. I've only used Perl/Tk in about 5 programs, all prior to receiving this book. I haven't programmed any new Perl/Tk since receiving it. I've flipped through the entire book, examined the available features and examples and have come to the conclusion that yes, based on what I've seen/read, I can develop applications with a professional look/feel.

      Now, you may not necessarily agree with what I consider having a professional look/feel means. There are some crappy looking examples in this book, just as Nancy Walsh's previous book Learning Perl/Tk was full of crappy looking examples. Keep in mind that the purpose of most of these examples are not to imitate a VB look, but to illustrate basic ways to vary the appearance of Perl/Tk widgets. OTOH, there are some very nice examples in the new book. My experience so far with Perl/Tk have taught me that the fewer options/attributes you take advantage of, the crappier your results will look.

      I think using Perl/Tk is alot like using HTML to build a web page. The simpler your HTML, the crappier it will look. If you have a well developed feel/talent for graphical design and/or layout your chances for ending up with a professional look/feel will be significantly higher than if you don't. I developed a Web Calendar application for my University and my intitial pages were very crude and simple looking. At that point, I turned the application over to a Graphics Design Artist in Web Services. The results were amazing, and beyond my capabilities. Sure, I could've come up with something sparse, sleek, and functional (I do think of myself as artistic, just not in a desktop publishing way), but I would've never come up with what she did. Having seen what she's done, I could emulate her and come up with a similar look. But I ramble.

      I believe that all of the necessary tools are there, whether or not you attain your goal depends on your will, talent, and ability to use them. It takes a good deal of effort to create apps with a Windows look. Perl/Tk is not Visual Basic.

      I suggest that you visit a major bookstore near you and browse through a copy of the book. Especially check out Appendix C: Complete Program Listings. Each program references a figure/chapter to check out. If you see a look/feel you like, check out the code that produces it.


      I have written some nice looking front-ends using Perl/Tk. It is certainly easy to use and very quick to develop. As far as how professional your GUI will look - well, that's really up to how much time you are willing to put into the design.

      If you want to see one of my better works, you can find it here. This was a front end to a class project we did for a real-time oscilloscope. We used RTOS Linux component in conjunction with a Keithley DAQ card. The link above is just a sample GUI with dummy data. Please feel free to play around with it.

      I must add one more thing. In my Tk experience, I've discovered that even though the code will work on any Perl/Tk enabled OS (btw, I tested this on Windows and RedHat), you MUST specify ALL parameters to EVERY widget in order to achieve the same look on different platforms. So, if that is a concern for you, please take this statement dear to your heart. I know for a fact that my program does not do a good enough job - I saw major differences b/w Windows and RedHat. I hope this helps.

        Your oscope code is just great. A very nice example. There is a minor typo on line 87 - the word "lable" should be "-lable".


        would it be possible for you to refresh the link to your oscope example?

Re: Mastering Perl/Tk
by lemming (Priest) on Mar 04, 2002 at 04:58 UTC

    Great book. And for the program listings: program examples

    O'Reilly is pretty good at making them available. I'm not positive if these are all the examples, but they useually include them.

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