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CGI Programming 101 - Perl for the WWW

by Hero Zzyzzx (Curate)
on Mar 11, 2001 at 20:59 UTC ( #63622=bookreview: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
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Item Description: Perl for beginners

Review Synopsis: Good for newbies, but beware of the sloppy coding you'll learn from this book.

This book was my first introduction to programming with Perl, which is good and bad (the book, that is). For a beginner, I'd cautiously recommend it. I was writing functional scripts almost immediatly with CGI 101. I learned quite a bit from this book and it got me excited about perl, but it's lacking in major areas.

On the good, it is very accessible and full of code examples. It does a good job describing regex to a complete beginner, has a short but good introduction to DBI and mySQL, and you really could learn enough from this book to make some pretty good CGI sites. I still find myself referring to some of it's chapters, specifically on date/time, cookies, strings, and regex.

On the bad, it taught me bad programming style that I now have to unlearn. She doesn't recommend using " -wT" in your scripts until the end of the book, and doesn't mention "use strict" at all (that I remember). This is especially a problem considering that I want to move a whole bunch of scripts into mod_perl, which is less forgiving with sloppy variables.

I'm sure there are better books for beginners out there (I have the O'Reilly CGI Programming book). However, CGI 101 got me excited very quickly about perl programming, which is a damn good thing. However, the bad programming style has hurt my coding somewhat.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re (tilly) 1: CGI Programming 101 - Perl for the WWW
by tilly (Archbishop) on Mar 12, 2001 at 03:43 UTC
    I have to wonder whether you will retain your optimism for books that give admittedly bad advice after you have some more experience under your belt. There are good books that have been written with beginners in mind, danger wrote at least one that I have heard good things about. Why not read that and seriously think about what book you would want to see a person start with...

      I know what you're saying, tilly. I'm feeling the frustration of the shoddy coding I learned in this book now, however, it's hard for me to beat up on the book that really got me to want to buckle down and learn perl.

      Part of it's accessibility is that it wasn't overwhelming, like some techie books can be. Unfortunately, being "underwhelming" meant some very important things were left out.

      That's why I said "cautiously recommend," if a newbie goes into this book with the attitude "I can learn from this but shouldn't take it as the Word," they can get a lot out of it.

      Besides, should the "reviews" section be only for the very best? It makes sense to include even the bad or mediocre, to let monks know before the plunk cash down on a stinker.

        Reviews are both for good and bad books.

        However I am very cautious about recommending bad books because they are accessible. Instead I would ask what a good and also acceptable book is, and recommend that.

        It is like Matt's Script Archives. Yes, they did a lot to get a lot of people into Perl. They made a lot of people's lives easier. But they have resulted in a lot of cracked boxes, and a lot of people who have no idea how at risk they are.

        But I really believe that it is possible to work from the beginning doing things correctly without being so forbidding that beginners cannot learn. I believe that seeking to find that approach is better than just accepting that beginners are doomed to accepting whatever crud the publishers are pushing because they wanted to crank out Yet Another book in a popular topic...

Re: CGI Programming 101 - Perl for the WWW
by blahblah (Friar) on Jun 01, 2002 at 23:04 UTC
    I am also one who started with the online version of this book about two years ago. I tried the O'Reilly books first, but they were too complex and riddled with sarcasm that I didn't quite understand. I understand and appreciate it now, but it was an obstacle back then.

    After this course I had a basic foundation of the language under my belt which made it possible for me to get through the O'Reilly books. I never refer back to this book now - I only use Perl Monks and the Perl Bookshelf, but thank god I had an easy place to start gaining understanding about something that is very complex to someone with just a hobby computer education.

    Because of my experience with it, I recommended this book as a good -introduction- to a friend recently, but then told him that after he finished the online version he should go through Ovid's CGI course to really learn safe practice.

    my 2c
Re: CGI Programming 101 - Perl for the WWW
by Hero Zzyzzx (Curate) on Jul 23, 2002 at 22:24 UTC

    After vastly improved my perl skills since I wrote this review, I have realized this book is a piece of doody. Please get the O'Reilly "Learning Perl" followed by "CGI Programming with Perl" for a MUCH better intro to the language and good coding techniques.

    In the spirit of completeness, I'm not going to edit my old review.

    -Any sufficiently advanced technology is
    indistinguishable from doubletalk.

Re: CGI Programming 101 - Perl for the WWW
by scottstef (Curate) on Mar 11, 2001 at 22:09 UTC
    I started with the the online chapters of the book, they are located at I agree with your cautious optimism. It is neat in the fact there are plenty of excercises available for us newbies to try until we are ready for the orielly cgi books.
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