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am 31. Mai 2000
The official reference for the Perl language did not improve in its second generation. The original "purple Camel" is, in my opinion, a true classic where books about programming and programming languages are concerned--I rank it right there with The C Programming Language, Anatomy of Lisp, Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs, and so forth. It was a classic because it was filled with lucid expressions of the thoughts of Perl's quintessentially pragmatic creator, Larry Wall. It was a classic because it provided a literate and thoroughly reasoned counterpoint to arguments in favor of more formally based languages and programming styles.
But ... somewhere in the extensive revisions, additions, extensions, and deletions that transformed the first Camel book into this, the second Camel book, the magic went away. And some very suspicious stuff went in. The book lost its digressive, essayic feel and became more of a perfunctory reference work. Additionally, some of the completely new material turned out to be just a little ... strange. The discussion of object-oriented programming based around the term "thingy" just doesn't do it for me. (Ignore all that and read Damian Conway's book instead.)
Preferences of style and tone aside, an unavoidable flaw of an infrequently-updated book like this one is that it inevitably refers to an obsolescent version of Perl. If you want current Perl documentation, you need to read the man(ual) pages that came with that version of Perl. What's in this book is generally but not completely accurate for newer versions of Perl. And because it's intended to be a more or less complete reference covering even small details, it can't help but be dead wrong on some points as the language continues to evolve. Bear in mind, also, that much of the material in this book comes STRAIGHT from the man pages. (Just not the up-to-date versions.)
A third edition is in the works, which will no doubt be at least a temporary improvement. If the newer version restores the insight and charm of the original, it will certainly deserve a place on your programming bookshelf. But as a reference work intended to cover a constantly-evolving language, Programming Perl will always suffer by being out of date.
If you are the type who dislikes reading electronic documentation, by all means, buy a copy of this book. But you'll find that you have to use the online documentation anyway.
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am 3. Februar 2000
The book itself, used as a Reference and for mastering Perl, is a five star book. But there are a quite a few disadvantages:
1. The book is not intended to the ones who have no programming experience at all. The read should be at least an intermediate programmer, because the basic programming concepts of the language (Variables, Subs and etc..) are badly explained.
2. Because of Perl's C Like Syntax, it is recommended that the reader will know C, Awk, or Grep and Some experience in the Unix Environment.
3. The Book itself is badly organized, certain complicated things are shown in examples and explanations, and those things are taught many pages afterwards. For Example: An Example of a perl program is shown on page 10, and that example contains subs and pattern matching, which are taught 100 Pages later!
These are the 3 Main Disadvantages. For Conclusion, if you're new to programming, or want to learn Perl easliy, buy "Learning Perl", but if you're a somewhat experienced programmer, and want to master Perl, this book is the best one you'll find for that purpose.
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am 7. Mai 1999
I have read well over 50 reviews of this book, and while many seem to think that the book is great, both as a reference book and/or a book to learn Perl, there are a large number who also think that it does not make a good reference book, or that it isn't written well at all.
I think that it really depends on your learning style, and your preivous experience with programming and computers in general (especially Unix).
One thing that seems to be the trend almost everwhere, which I agree with, is that this is not a very good book to learn perl with, if you have no idea what it is, or if you haven't had previous experience with other programming languages. A book better suited for this introductory task is one such as Learning Perl (the 'Llama Book') or one of the other 'tutorial' type books.
However, the Camel book IS well suited as a reference book, and I also enjoy just opening the book in the middle somewhere, and starting to read. I almost always learn some little trick or useful technique within the first few pages that I read, some of which solve a problem which I may be working on, and some I store away and am glad later on when something comes up and I can think "Oh do this you just do this and that..." Plus if I don't remember, out comes the book least I know it's in there somewhere, even if the index isn't perfect :-)
If I had to sum it up in two words, they would be the same as many other readers: GET IT!
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am 29. Dezember 1999
While I was still working my way through Programming Perl, I wrote on comp.lang.perl.misc:
"The authors aren't afraid to use a construct before they've even mentioned it, let alone described how it works, and at least some of the (mostly uncommented) examples are distinctly non-trivial. It's very dense, with a single sentence often expressing something that I'd spend a whole pp on, were I writing it for a programmer's magazine. It's not quite as slow going as some of the page-an-hour philosophy texts I read in college, but it's probably the closest I've come to that in the nearly twenty years since then. Definite perceptual bi-stability: It flickers between 'loads of fun' and 'intensely frustrating'."
Having finished it and having written more than a few Perl scripts, I find it an invaluable reference - I look forward to the day when I can write a non-trivial script without referring to it!
All in all, I found it a wonderful book, the One Book To Get If You're Only Getting One. I do think that the density of the book (and its free use of 'forward references') is a good preparation for Perl programming: If you can understand the book and its examples, you'll have little trouble reading any Perl you might come across.
But - as you can gather from some of the pans here - this book isn't for everyone. If you already know two or three other languages and have a deep-seated need to understand a language's semantics, buy this book. If what you really want is just to quickly learn how to modify some scripts you found on the Net, then this probably isn't the book for you.
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am 25. März 1997
If anything I'm glad O'Reilly published this revised edition of Programming Perl, because my first version was just in horrible shape. I don't think it would have made it another week. Too many long nights, spilled soda and moments of rage and frustration, take its toll on a book.

So, I retired the first version and began to break in the new version. This new version covers Perl 5 (not Perl5) in a way that actually makes a dummy like me understand. Not only is this book good reading, but is also by far the most useful Perl reference (in particular the chapter covering Perl's various functions).

This book really shows you that Perl isn't just some nice little language that makes cute little guestbooks for the homepage, but is a full featured, powerful development language strong enough to take on the most demanding Unix environment (and have enough room left over to conquer any Windows NT server).

This is a must read for anyone remotely interested in Perl programming
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am 20. Mai 1999
There are some great things about this book. The information is accurate, detailed, clear, and concise. However, there are too many places where a clear expository style is badly needed. One example of several (see other reviews here for other examples): if you already know what the m// operator does, and how to combine it with =~, you are OK; but if you don't know, there is no easy way to figure it out. Here's what you have to do.
First you go to chapter 3, the function reference, and see in the category listing on p.143 that there is a pattern matching function called m//. The alphabetical listing doesn't have it, however. If you're lucky, you notice that they've listed it under // instead of m//, and you are referred from there to a section of chapter 2 called regular expressions (p. 58). But the first mention of m// is on p.66, 8 pages later. What's more, the first example is:
which doesn't show the m// notation (which is how it's indexed, after all), and doesn't show the =~ notation because it makes use of $_ without saying so.
If instead you look up =~ in the index, you are sent to p.80, which assumes you already know about m//, s/// and the fact that m// is //. The definition is "Binary =~ binds a scalar expression to a pattern match[. . .].". This is not very helpful if you're looking it up because you haven't used it before (and only newbies are *going* to look up m// in the first place). So an example would be nice, something simple like:
$fred = "abcd"; if ($fred =~ m/bc/) { print "matched!\n"; }
but instead they jump into fine points.
I repeat, a great book, and a compulsory purchase if you are serious about Perl. But it will drive you crazy while you're learning.
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am 24. Juli 1999
Larry Wall und seine Kollegen verstehen es wie keine anderen, die Programmierung in Perl durch einen lockeren Sprachstil zu vermitteln. Zuerst geben sie einen allgemeinen Überblick, um sodann auf die wohl wichtigsten Details einzugehen: das File-Handling und das Pattern-Matching. Im darauf folgenden größten Teil des Buches wird jede Perl-Funktion Stück für Stück erläutert und anhand von Beispielen illustriert. Diese wiederum sind sehr anschaulich ausgewählt, um bei dem Leser keine Langeweile aufkommen zu lassen. Anschließend kommen die - inzwischen wohl in jeder gängigen Programmiersprache zu findenden - Referenzen (Zeiger) zur Sprache, sogar bis hin zu komplexen Szenarien zum Praxiseinsatz. Weiterhin wird umfassend über Packages und Zusatzmodule informiert, die dem Leser viel Eigenarbeit ersparen können und auch zeigen, daß Skriptsprachen ebenfalls modular augebaut sein können. Schließlich gibt es auch noch jede Menge Praxis-Tips, die offensichtlich einer langen Erfahrung der Autoren im Umgang mit Perl entspringen. Ferner sei auch erwähnt, daß sogar Perl-Bezugsquellen und Installationhinweise genannt werden. Alles in allem ist dieses Buch sowohl für den Einsteiger als auch als Nachschlagewerk für den Profi sehr zu empfehlen. (Dies ist eine an der Uni-Studentenrezension.)
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am 2. Februar 2000
The reference sections were great -- I read them end to end. This book would be great if that's what you were buying it for. If you've already been lightly introduced to Perl, (and you can find what you are looking for without a decent index), you wouldn't do badly with this book.
However, even if you know a broad range of other computer languages, Perl is full of painfully implicit semantics and esoteric details, so a few chapters of introduction are important. The book had those chapters, to it's credit, but the writing in them was wandering and weakly structured, and not so well edited -- somewhat like the Perl language itself? I had heard Perl criticized as a collection of many individually "neat" features and shortcuts, lacking overall design and simplifying consistency. The book seemed to reinforce that feeling.
With so many features, you would have expected some extra effort to have been invested into a decent index. Unfortunately, I have often found it rather hard to find what I'm looking for.
The layout scheme conforms to the extremely flat OReilly Books standard (e.g. subsection levels deliniated by subtle font size differences in headings). That standard looks distinctly like old LaTeX output, or something similarly invented before graphical layout tools.
In summary, even if you know lots of languages, don't buy this book expecting an easy ride into the world of Perl, based on the names "Larry Wall" or "OReilly".
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am 5. November 1999
Hola! from the most wired dormatory in America,
I thought my CS friends were crazy. Fell asleep to Chapter 2. I dare not even look at the alphabetical Ch. 3 and 7. How can this be the famous tutorial? The problem is simple: it's a bible. Quite literally. No nonsense details, and lots of it. Don't give up. The authors thought of you. There's hope.
Heed Ch. 2's subtle suggestion as to how you might want to use the book as a tutorial:
A. The >contexts< in which Perl language features, basic Perl functions, and core Perl libraries will be used are not in Ch. 2, 3, or 7--Ch. 4-6 reveals all. Look there instead. Code examples and real world use are simply saved for later. This is a great way to preserve the succinct nature of a deskside reference.
B. Read it backwards! Skim pass Ch. 2, 3, and 7 if you have some programming background. Refer to them as you stumble across strange terrain during your careful study of Ch 4-6. Read this way the reference becomes a tender tutorial. Your fingers will also become very familiar with the whereabouts of each toy in this treasure chest.
This book is a pearl. So is the community.
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am 3. Januar 2000
It's said I am one of the few people who've gone through this book among my friends. Yes. I do enjoy it very much in the past months. It's a long poem, which shows the wisdom of this language from time to time.
We may have to admit that the so-called 'value' is indeed the preference of people. Thus I'll free free to comment this book with my favor. I think this book is great because I like this well-designed language so much and ...
Because it covers everything you need or want to know about Perl - a perfect reference book.
Because it explains the thinking underlying the language - a philosophical book toward a perfect language.
Because it is so concise, saving my time, but provides sufficient hints to help experienced programmers master this language - a poem.
I like the apropos humor appearing everywhere in the book. It's essential to programmers' life - a good old friend.
And we, Chinese, think "Fish acquired, fishnet thrown away." If you do master Perl, no treasuring the Perl books. I believe this book would be the last Perl book I throw away.
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