August 1, 2005
Learning Perl, Fourth Edition: The Llama is Back--Revamped for Today's Nascent Perl Programmers
Among Perl programmers, the classic instruction books are
affectionately referred to by the animals on their covers: the Camel book
(Programming Perl), the Llama book Learning Perl, and a relative
newcomer, the Alpaca book (Learning Perl Objects, References, and
Modules). By no means do these books make up the entire sum of knowledge
about Perl; each animal merely represents a step on the path to mastery of
the language. The Llama book serves as the traditional starting point for
the programmer looking to learn Perl. Newly rewritten by Randal Schwartz,
Tom Phoenix, and brian d foy, three prominent members of the Perl
Learning Perl, Fourth Edition (O'Reilly, US $ 39.95) has been
updated to reflect recent changes in the language (through Perl 5.8) and
the way the language is used by programmers today.
Learning Perl is not a beginning programming book, but a guide to
applying one's existing programming skills to Perl. As brian d foy, lead
writer for the new edition, explains, "We aimed Learning Perl at the
programmer who does not know Perl. We assume the reader understands the
basics of variables, subroutines, and other features found in most
programming languages, but needs to know how Perl does it. We're not a
complete reference on Perl--you'll need Programming Perl for that," he
adds. "But we cover the eighty percent of the language that most people
use over and over again."
Like many others, foy began his own study of Perl with the Llama book. "I
learned Perl from the first edition of the book," he recalls. "You can
even see the
receipt online. The
careful viewer will notice that I bought it a week after I got
Programming Perl . A
couple of years later, I started teaching Perl with Randal Schwartz. Soon
after that, Tom Phoenix re-jiggered most of our courseware and turned it
into the third edition of Learning Perl. Now we're on the fourth
edition, and I was the lead writer on the book that started it all for
The fourth edition of the book includes new exercises with solutions so
readers can practice what they've learned while it's still fresh in their
minds. Readers will learn about data structures, minimal matching,
threading, data parsing, references, objects, modules, package
implementation, and more. The authors have reengineered the pace and
scope of the lessons with today's Perl student in mind, while retaining
the detailed discussions, examples, and eclectic wit for which the book is
famous. Although Perl was first known as the "toolbox for Unix," knowledge
of Unix isn't required; the lessons in the new book apply equally well to
most modern implementations of Perl. As foy says, "Previous editions of
the book had a bit of a Unix bias, but we've removed as many traces of
that as we could find. You can use Learning Perl no matter which
operating system or environment you're using."
If you ask Perl programmers today which book they relied on the most when
they were learning Perl, you'll find that an overwhelming majority will
point to Learning Perl. Other books can teach you to program in Perl,
but this book will turn you into a Perl programmer.
Praise for the previous edition:
"...this book really is a masterpiece. An easy to follow syntax, brilliant
organization, and well thought content really give this book its edge.
Overall this book gets five out of five stars from me."
--Adam Fortuno, M.U.D.slinger (Macintosh Users of Delaware Newsletter)
"This is the book to measure all others against."
--Richard Mateosian, IEEE
"It is easy to learn just enough Perl for a particular purpose, but if you
want to understand Perl, this is where to start. Highly recommended"
--Major Keary, Book News
Further reviews of Learning Perl
"This is the best tutorial for experienced programmers who want to learn
--Dave Cross, www.perlmonth.com
Learning Perl, Fourth Edition
Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix, and brian d foy
ISBN: 0-596-10105-8, 283 pages, $39.95 US, $55.95 CA
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