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December 4, 2002

The Best of the Perl Journal

Sebastopol, CA--In its first five years of existence, The Perl Journal (TPJ) ran 247 articles by more than 120 authors. Every serious Perl programmer subscribed to it, and every notable Perl guru jumped at the opportunity to write for it. TPJ explained critical topics such as regular expressions, databases, and object-oriented programming, and demonstrated Perl's utility for fields as diverse as astronomy, biology, economics, AI, and games. The magazine gave birth to both the Obfuscated Perl Contest and the Perl Poetry Contest, and remains a proud and timeless achievement of Perl during one of its most exciting periods of development.

Much to the sorrow of scores of Perl programmers, TPJ no longer exists in printed form. A new O'Reilly release, Computer Science and Perl Programming (US $39.95), is the first volume of The Best of the Perl Journal series, compiled and re-edited by the original editor and publisher of The Perl Journal, Jon Orwant. In this series, the very best (and still relevant) articles published in TPJ over its five years of publication are immortalized in three volumes. This first volume has 70 articles devoted to hard-core computer science, advanced programming techniques, and the underlying mechanics of Perl.

"Perl is something of a grab bag," says editor Jon Orwant, "and so is this book. These articles are the creme de la creme of the articles published during The Perl Journal's five-year existence. This book has 41 different authors. The articles within each section are loosely ordered from general to specific, and also from simplest to most complex, but since these spectra are not one and the same, the progression is not always uniform. The book can be read straight through, or sampled at random. In deference to the Perl motto, There's More Than One Way To Read It."

"The Perl Journal is about the experience of programming--the fun, the tricks, the surprising facts uncovered, and the neat new ideas," says Sean M. Burke, a TPJ writer. "Think of The Perl Journal as a thick lush oasis in a wasteland of bone-dry acronyms and stick-figure theories."

Here are just a few of the topics covered in the book:

  • Jeffrey Friedl on understanding Regexes
  • Mark Jason Dominus on optimizing your Perl programs with Memoization
  • Damian Conway on Parsing
  • Tim Meadowcroft on integrating Perl with Microsoft Office

Written by 41 of the most prominent and prolific members of the closely-knit Perl community, this anthology does what no other book can, giving unique insight into the real-life applications and powerful techniques made possible by Perl.

"Perl programmers are some of the smartest folks around," explains Jon Orwant. "They're not interested in writing about boring stuff, but rather showing the generality or applicability of their latest hack--whether it's using Perl to decode the human genome or to create artificially intelligent software robots. So TPJ was always more interesting than typical computer language magazines, and as a result there continues to be great demand for most of the articles. When I published the magazine, over half the readers ordered every single back issue so that they'd have a complete collection. Since those back issues aren't available any more, the O'Reilly TPJ anthologies are dearly needed."

Other books tell you how to use Perl, but this book goes far beyond that: it shows you not only how to use Perl, but what you could use Perl *for*. This is more than just The Best of the Perl Journal--in many ways, this is the best of Perl.

Additional Resources:

Computer Science & Perl Programming: Best of The Perl Journal
0-596-00310-2, Order Number: 3102
758 pages, $39.95 (US) $61.95 (CA)
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938

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