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Computer Science and Perl Programming

by mooseboy (Pilgrim)
on Dec 19, 2002 at 12:52 UTC ( #221097=bookreview: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Item Description: Best of The Perl Journal, Volume 1

Review Synopsis:

On examination, the formidably-titled Computer Science and Perl Programming turns out to be not so formidable at all. It's the first of three volumes from O'Reilly collecting together some of the best articles from issues 1-20 of The Perl Journal, spanning the years 1996-2000. Two further volumes, one covering the Web, graphics and Perl/Tk, and the other games, diversions and Perl culture, are planned by O'Reilly.

So what do you get for your $40? Well, you get over 700 pages of articles by such Perl luminaries as Graham Barr, Tim Bunce, Sean M Burke, Damian Conway, Simon Cozens, Mark Jason Dominus, brian d foy, Jeffrey Friedl, Tom Phoenix, Chip Salzenberg, Lincoln D Stein, Nathan Torkington and many more. Hard to think when so many people with a brain the size of a planet were last together in one place ;-)

The back cover blurb notes that the articles were selected and re-edited for the book by TPJ's original editor, Jon Orwant (who also provides a brief history of the magazine). Being newish to Perl, I don't have any back issues to compare, so I can't say how significant the differences between the original TPJ articles and the re-edited book versions are, but suffice it to say that the book is up to O'Reilly's usual high standard.

As with any book of this nature, the content is very much a mixed bag (a very high-quality mixed bag, it should be said), although a brave attempt has been made to categorize the articles into eight sections: beginner concepts, regexes, computer science, programming techniques, software development, networking, databases and internals. Everyone will have their own favourites here, but I particularly liked the articles by Jeffrey Friedl on regexes, Damian Conway on parsing, and just about everything by Mark Jason Dominus. You can check out the full table of contents on the O'Reilly website as usual.

Caveats? Well, it should of course be pointed out that none of the material is new, but on the other hand, maybe that's no bad thing -- Laziness is supposed to be a virtue, after all! It should also be noted that a fair-sized chunk of TPJ stuff is available free online or, if you're willing to fork out $50 for the complete version, you can get the CD here.

I imagine that a lot of Perl Monks will already have either back issues of TPJ or the CD, and for them, there probably isn't any compelling reason to buy this book. But if you missed out on the first five years of TPJ, or if you just like curling up with a book by some of the finest minds in Perl, Computer Science and Perl Programming would make a pretty nifty Christmas present for the Perl hacker in your life. And if that person is yourself -- go on, give yourself a Christmas treat.

Season's greetings to all Perl Monks, whatever your faith or culture!

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