July 7, 2005
"Advanced Perl Programming, Second Edition": Not Magic (Perhaps), but the Key to Unlocking Advanced Perl Skills
Sebastopol, CA--Once you've read a good Perl book--the Camel Book, for
instance ("Programming Perl")--or any other good tutorial, you know almost
all of the language. Some Perl programmers may react with dismay at Simon
Cozens's observation in the new edition of Advanced Perl Programming, Second Edition
(O'Reilly, Second Edition, US $39.95), "There are no secret keywords, no
other magic sigils that turn on Perl's advanced mode and reveal hidden
features," he admits. "In one sense, this book is not going to tell you
anything new about the Perl language."
What, then, lies ahead for Perl programmers? Is it a matter of "See Rome
and die?" Not according to Cozens. "I used to be a student of music," he
says. "Music is very simple. There are 12 possible notes in the scale of
Western music, although some of the most wonderful melodies in the world
only use, at most, eight of them. There are around four different
durations of a note used in common melodies." As Cozens points out, there
isn't a massive musical vocabulary to choose from, and yet music has been
around a great deal longer than Perl.
"I've said that there are no secret switches to turn on advanced features
in Perl," Cozens further explains. "This means that everyone starts on a
level playing field, in just the same way that Johann Sebastian Bach and a
little kid playing with a xylophone have precisely the same raw materials
to work with. The key to producing advanced Perl--or advanced
music--depends on two things: knowledge of techniques and experience of
what works and what doesn't."
The new edition of Advanced Perl Programming aims to give readers some
of each of these things. The book was written not for advanced Perl
programmers, but for any Perl programmer who would like to become a better
Perl programmer. It covers all the complex techniques for
production-ready Perl programs, clearly explaining concepts such as
introspection, overriding built-ins, extending Perl's object-oriented
module, and testing code for great stability. Other topics include
parsing, templating tools, Unicode, interaction with C and other
languages, and working with natural language data. In addition, this
guide demystifies topics such as object-relational mapping and event-based
development. As Cozens notes, "The variety of topics covered in the book
means there's going to be something for every programmer here."
Some programmers may question why a new edition of Advanced Perl
Programming is necessary, considering that the language itself has not
changed dramatically in recent years. As Cozens explains, there's
unquestionably a necessity for the new book. "The first edition of
'Advanced Perl Programming' has long been a mainstay for Perl programmers
attempting to further their skills, but unfortunately it hasn't caught up
with the developments in Perl over the past five years," says Cozens.
"Specifically, the focus of development has shifted from writing
complicated code yourself to using other people's complicated code
available from CPAN. So advanced Perl programming has changed in its
nature, and I wanted to update the book to reflect that.
"My hope is that readers will discover that someone has already done the
hard work for them; that there's a huge collection of ready-made modules
out there, and at least one of them will apply to whatever they're trying
to do. Maybe my book won't give them the exact answer they need, but it
will hopefully open their eyes to where to find the answers."
Perl programmers looking for a magic switch to turn on advanced skills
will come up empty-handed, but Advanced Perl Programming, Second Edition
will help push their skills to the next level to become more accomplished
Early praise for Advanced Perl Programming:
"Simon Cozens notes that once you know the syntax there's no more Perl
to learn. In this book, he shares advanced techniques for applying the
Perl you (mostly) already know... It's a shame for the Perl community
that Simon's moved on to other things, but this book is a fine legacy
from which the rest of us can try to live up to his standards."
--Smylers, The Perl Review
"It has been said that sufficiently advanced Perl code is
indistinguishable from magic. This book of spells goes a long way to
unlocking those secrets. It has the power to transform the most humble
programmer into a Perl wizard."
"The information here isn't theoretical. It presents tools and techniques
for solving real problems cleanly and elegantly."
--Curtis "Ovid" Poe
"Advanced Perl Programming collects hard-earned knowledge from some of
the best programmers in the Perl community, and explains it in a way that
even novices can apply immediately."
--chromatic, editor of Perl.com
Advanced Perl Programming, Second Edition
ISBN: 0-596-00456-7, 281 pages, $39.95 US, $55.95 CA
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