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Perl Monk's Bible

by Malkavian (Friar)
on Nov 21, 2000 at 23:20 UTC ( #42757=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

After reading an absolutely phenomenal article (well, I think so) by tye, I thought to myself "Why isn't there a Perl Monk's Bible" in print?
So, I did a search, which turned up an article by princepawn a while back, called Perl Monks Cookbook.
After reading the replies to that, I found myself wondering more and more why that idea didn't seem to have carried forward.
Perl Monks is an organisation, albeit a loose one, of quite a few very talented people, quite a few of who I've noticed are very eloquent, clear and enlightening.
It does seem that it's a waste to not put the words of wisdom into print.
However, there were a lot of valid points in the cookbook thread that do need to be addresses, some of which are not mutually exclusive.
What follows is merely a thought to toy with, but it would be interesting to see where it goes:

  • Perl Monks is and organisation. Rather than it be authored by anyone, perhaps have it authored by Perl Monks as the organisation, for the express purpose of raising funds for the site, and investing in Open Source Perl projects/resource.
  • The perl Monks documentation is always being talked about, and overhauls are always being called for. How about presenting this in book format now, with chapters dealing with certain aspects, with a full table of contents and index. This would be highly advantageous for keeping the Perl Monks docs in order, and pushing this project along too.
  • The question of who owns the answers posted here was talked about. Persuing the idea of a book would entail this be looked at and resolved. I for one would be more than slightly interested to know who does own rights to what I write. I've no aversion to anything I may conceivably do being used in any way necessary to help Perl and Perl Monks. I wouldn't feel quite to happy to know that some other organisation owned it, which I may not be aware of. This would, once and for all, clear that question.
  • The publication of a book would raise the profile of Perl Monks immeasurably. I stumbled on it almost by accident (via slashdot, as I remember). I find it so useful, and fun, that I kept coming back. However, it still seems that the numbers of people who find this site are still relatively small. Publication would open this to people who want to get into Perl who do book searches on the book vendor sites. And I know a lot of people who do that.
  • I remember a debate a while ago, about the permanency of data stored on the internet. And, with all the best will in the world, this information stored here is transient. Can you guarantee that in 20 years time, this site will be up? Or that some of the gems that have appeared here will not have been lost/corrupted along the years? Or even be retrievable from backup tapes? Once ideas are committed to book and paper, they endure far more than anything committed soley to electronic media. I firmly believe the discussions held here, and the articles that arise from that have the potential for a book of the highest caliber.
  • Books are good. Even though it may be here on the site, I can't read it in bed at night, or take it on vacation with me to browse, or read it on a train to somewhere, or anything like that. I'm much more comfortable with a book than a web page for absorbing information and feeling comfortable. I have a pile of well used books that sit by my terminal all the time, and always will have. They're my real repository of info despite all the online references. Plus, it's easier to have a book open as you work on a screen than to flick between multiple windows.. Well.. Just my thoughts anyway..

I think the idea of a Perl Monk's Bible is just too good an idea to let lie. And although some people have reservations about the way ideas are used for profit, I got the feeling that much of that sentiment was due to the feeling that they would not be contributing to the common good, or that their ideas may somehow not be attributed to them, in effect stolen.
Perhaps this would also make a good poll (Would you be willing to contribute ideas to a Perl Monk's Bible)..
Although, as I mentioned above, princepawn got to this idea first, I think what I outlined above is significantly different in it's implementation and what it benefits. And it made me wonder if this was more appealing or less to the Perl Monks populace at large, or what would make it more appealing/feasible at all.
Anyhow, enough of my rambling, I'd love to see what arises from this..


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Perl Monk's Bible
by japhy (Canon) on Nov 21, 2000 at 23:43 UTC
    My thoughts on the Perl-Monks' bible, as pertains to the Christian bible:
    • It should be an account of our history.
      We should talk about the state of the Perl community -- why did come into existence? What other online Perl communities exist, and how do they differ from us? We should highlight and praise key figures in our community; mainly vroom and his cabal ;) of developers who fashioned the site, as well as the Mysticks who dwell among us (such as Dominus and merlyn).
    • It should explain how our community works.
      We need a ten commandments of sorts for this community... the rules and regulations. We should explain the hierarchy of "experience levels", and the power of the vote. We should also explain that sometimes, bad things happen to good people (I refer specifically to downvoting).
    • We should "give light to those with whom we may be associated as we travel along life's pathway" (from the Acacia Preamble).
      It is important to state that we welcome into our community all Perl programmers, provided they learn to live by our rules (which aren't all that dolorous). We're a community of learning, of knowledge, of sharing ideas, and of mutual support. Make that clear.
    • There are more sources to whom one can turn.
      Including, but not limited to, the FAQ, the Perl documentation, the multitude of Perl-related IRC channels, and the Perl Mongers.
    • Share in the body of [Perl]
      We want to hear what you've done with Perl. We want to help you do bigger and better things. We want you to understand it better. (We want you to spell it correctly.) We want you to love Perl, not just program in it.
    I'd be more than happy to contribute to a book that stands for all these things.

    japhy -- Perl and Regex Hacker
Re: Perl Monk's Bible
by Albannach (Prior) on Nov 21, 2000 at 23:50 UTC
    I too think this is a great idea (and I enjoyed tye's article as well). From what I've seen there are certainly more than enough good authors here who also have useful things to say (a great if often elusive combination). However, my first thought (bearing in mind that I'm a Professional Pessimist) is that such a book would have to be a miracle of organization and editing, otherwise you could just use Data::Dumper and publish the Monastery database for all the benefit it would give.

    I'm just thinking that part of what makes Perl Monks great is the dynamic nature of it, the way it responds almost instantly to any input ... it's alive! How would you go about capturing this in a book? I certainly don't want to put anyone off from the project, and I'd certainly support it, but I think it is not going to be easy.

    Ok Albannach, how about a suggestion rather than just slag then? Ok, the first thing that comes to mind would be subdivisions on the basis of general task domain, as well as level of expertise. It would be great to be able to publish the range of answers that appear here, all perfectly good and all for the same question, but requiring sometimes vastly different levels of understanding.

    Update Hmm... japhy's response took a very different route, and I really like that too, but perhaps that would apply more to a Monastery document than something that could be published in the commercial press?

      I agree that the fact that perlmonks is alive would make it hard to place all this into a book. It would be outdated before it ever came close to hitting the press.

      Roy Alan

        That never stopped Perl texts. Especially the wretched ones that give outdated information that became obsolete before the book was thought into being.


        "Reputation: -1". Sigh. <head shaking> The price of honesty.

        japhy -- Perl and Regex Hacker
Re: Perl Monk's Bible
by extremely (Priest) on Nov 22, 2000 at 06:59 UTC
    I'm not big on re-inventing the Cookbook, OTOH hand if you want to take any post of mine and tweak it into a super-ized monked-up version of the FAQs, by all means do so.

    I tend to consider text posted to a website like this as effectively public domain. I think that most publishers would insist on paper signatures from every person who's posts they reproduced tho.

    I really like the idea of a mix between the FAQs, the Snippets, the Categorized Q&A, and the perldocs, assuming it was properly hypertext-ized.

    In the end, I think that the archives on The Monastery prety much ARE turning into a Bible of sorts. More like a Dead Sea Scrolls in that we all get to write in the margins when we think we understand something deeper in a particular stanza...

    $you = new YOU;
    honk() if $you->love(perl)

A way to do it
by jepri (Parson) on Nov 22, 2000 at 08:23 UTC

    Here's a possible procedure we could use to get a good start:
    * Work with vroom to copy/image the database, probably to another machine.
    * Drop the homenodes - unless people really want to stay in.
    * Drop every thread that starts with a post whose reputation is less then zero.
    * Drop every node with a reputation less than zero
    * Flag every node with a reputation of 0. Then go through them fast. If you don't see Perl code, drop the node.
    * Get everyone to suggest threads that are especially worth reading (a lot of people already have these on their home nodes). Move these to a separate section.
    * Dump what's left to a latex (SGML, whatever takes your fancy) file, each section (snippits, code, craft, questions&answers, discussion, etc.) a chapter, threads are subsections.
    * Get everyone on perlmonks to take a look
    * Edit the database image appropriately
    * Repeat until we are all sick of it

    That should produce something good enough to distribute as a PDF.

    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

      you wrote:
      "* Flag every node with a reputation of 0. Then go through them fast. If you don't see Perl code, drop the node."

      Some nodes don't have code but give good background info on general programming "HOW TO" and perl specific implementations of common techniques, so I wouldn't just drop them.

      But the Idea about PDF is quite good as there are also references to the Adobe API's available from Adobe and modules on CPAN to access those, so it's easy to make a printable book out of that using Framemaker or Distiller.

      On the other Hand some might agree that it is within perl's tradition to make such book available for free download as well.

      Have a nice day
      All decision is left to your taste

      I might have misunderstood the term "Flag".
Re: Perl Monk's Bible
by $CBAS (Scribe) on Nov 22, 2000 at 01:22 UTC
    well, only if it's written by hand like any *real* bible ;-)

    Seriously though, this seems like a nice idea but no publisher in the world will accept it because it's not profitable for them. I think you should release it in it's electronical format (PDF or similar) so people can print it out if they really want it (that's why they have copiers at work and in our schools!)

    btw, will it feature a holy camel on the cover? hehe ...


      I like the idea of a manger scene with a little baby camel and three wise monks. Of course I have an animal cracker on my page so you might want to factor that in.

      $you = new YOU;
      honk() if $you->love(perl)

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