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am 29. Mai 2000
I've been a Unix user for seven+ years, and have some programming experience, although I am by no means really knowledgable about either. When I entered my most recent job, I needed to learn Perl fast, and so I used this book to help me get started.
From a self-teaching perspective, I found this book to be exactly what I needed. I'll admit that the first chapter (a general description of the Perl language) was not very helpful, but I found the division of the rest of the book by small pieces of the syntax (scalars, arrays, hashes, regular functions, i/o, etc.) to suit my needs, which tended to be along the lines of: I need to do x right now. I learned the easy stuff really quickly, and I still use the book as a constant reference.
Now, it is just a beginner's text, so it is not an ideal complete reference, and you won't learn anything particularly nifty. However, if you need to both learn how to program and actually do some programming at the same time (i.e. not in a class-room setting), Learning Perl can be a wonderful text.
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am 4. Dezember 1999
I came to this book knowing next to nothing about Perl, and with a few misconceptions to boot (that Perl's syntax is 'write-only', it's primarily a CGI tool, etc.), and now I am not sure that epiphany would cover it. In 12 years of learning and using programming languages, I don't think I have come across anything so enchanting.
One of the best parts of the book: the authors. Add Schwartz & Christiansen to Elliotte Rusty Harold, Petzold, and a very few others who are truly effective technical writers. Classic O'Reilly easygoing style, never condescending, and eerily consistent in presenting just the right amount of information on the given topic.
Every programmer (even non-Perl ones) should read 'Programming Perl' by Larry Wall. But to learn Perl, and take the first step down a long and magical road, buy this book.
I had a few nits, but by the time I finished the book, I had forgotten most of them. As close to 5 stars as I will ever give for a technical book.
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This accessible and practical book can make a Non-Programmer into a Proud CGI Guru, given that the beginner understands some basic logical structures, and is willing to meet the authors halfway.
PROBLEM 1: The book assumes a fairly extensive Unix background, so doesn't always explain itself where that's concerned. SOLUTION: Just ignore the bits that don't apply to you and keep going.
PROBLEM 2: The first chapter can be intimidating. SOLUTION: Understand it to be an overview: "Here's what you can do with perl." Run its programs to see how they work, experiment with them, but don't freak out if you don't understand them completely. Alternately, just skip on to Chapter 2.
We enjoyed Learning Perl, and found it a good beginner's book for this language or for programming in general. The touches of humor could be annoying to some, but we thought they added readability and interest.
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am 1. August 2000
A very, very good book for beginners. Extremely helpful, detailed explanations of what's going on and more. It says UNIX on the cover but I am using a Windows NT platform and almost everything works as is. If you want to learn Perl, start here.
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am 5. Mai 2000
This is not a bad book, but I'm still surprised by the generosity of the reader reviews. Perl is something of a cult, so I think in a lot of cases a positive review means "I like Perl" more than it means "I like 'Learning Perl.'" People hesitate (understandably, I think) to insult a book that's closely associated with a great open-source language.
I myself think Perl is great, but I have some serious problems with the way this book was written and edited. The authors can't seem to decide whether this should be an easy book for programmers, a difficult book for non-programmers, or even (at times) an easy book for non-programmers. That is to say, the tone, style, and assumptions about the audience change throughout, sometimes from page to page. Key concepts are glossed over with a minimum of explanation (the chapter on hashes, particularly, is a disgrace); then, defying all reason, very simple concepts are overexplained for two or three pages. The authors have been too close to their subject for too long, and they seem to have forgotten what they learned and the order in which they learned it. Maybe a newbie co-author might have helped.
If you are an experienced developer or are comfortable with UNIX, you'll get a lot of benefit from "llama." Otherwise, though, start with another book, or learn something about UNIX first. Then return to this book, and you should have an easier time of it.
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am 27. April 2000
I picked up Learning Perl with very little programming experience (only having completed a compulsory Visual Basic course in high school), and found it easy to read and understand.
The first chapter, A stroll Through Perl, is perhaps the biggest flaw in the book. Rather than introducing the capabilities of Perl (which I think is what the author's intended), it bogs the new reader down in detail and seems to set forth an avalanche of cryptic code at you. It was so bad that, thinking that Chapter 1 was an indication of the rest of the book (ie it was all too cryptic and meant for seasoned programmers), I set the book aside for a few months.
I came back to the book when a friend of mine picked it up, and, after skimming over Chapter 1, was pleasantly suprised. The rest of the book is easy to read and understand, though at times a little dense for the new programmer, and immediately useful. The examples are good illustrations of implementation ideas for concepts described in a chapter, and the excercises at the end of each chapter are good indications of what you've learnt. The book introduces new concepts smoothly and quickly integrates them into existing material, and culminates in an especially interesting and useful chapter on CGI (which is really what I wanted to use Perl for).
Overall, it's a great book, even for people who are new to programming: with a little dedication you'll be able to blaze through the chapters and become proficient at Perl basics. Some organisational errors let it down and make the introductory pages unjustifiably daunting for those new to programming, but other than that, it was a very satisfying and self-contained tutorial for Perl users.
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am 31. Oktober 1999
There are 2 sets of reviewers rating this book. The first set, who compose the majority of reviewers, are experienced Unix programmers who have used sed, awk, grep and the various Unix shells. For those Unix hackers, this book is a great intro to Perl because it covers the basics of the language quickly and efficiently without belaboring the obvious (or I should say, the obvious to experienced Unix users).
The second set of reviewers (of which I am one), who have just about universally panned this book, are Windows or Mac users who had no clue what sed, awk and grep were and then attempted to tackle Perl with this book. For those people, this book is a big mistake.
When I was searching for a beginning Perl book, I flipped through the llama book and got confused not only by the first chapter, but with several of the succeeding chapters as well. I learned Perl with Laura LeMay's "Teach Yourself Perl in 21 Days" which is a much gentler intro to Perl and also covers Perl in Windows and the Mac. Now that I have some Perl and Linux experience, I went back to the bookstore and started flipping through the llama again, and this time I thought, "Hey this book is really good."
Learn from my Jekyll and Hyde experience with the llama: if you are trying to learn Perl and you have previous Unix experience, buy the book. If you don't have previous Unix experence, get something else.
I hope this explanation clears up why some people gave this book rave reviews while others ripped it.
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am 8. April 1999
As an experienced systems administrator and script writer I was extremely offput by this book. Of course it's an ORA book and thus the quality is there, but I swear I have no idea how the authors got this poorly organized, confusing amalgamation past the editors unless they were simply too baffled to reject it and gave up. For starters, the footnotes often contradict the text which references them. The writing is thick and assumes too much. The authors' sense of humor apparently dictates the presense of smart-alecky and totally irrelevant commentary at random spots, just to make sure that the reader is absolutely lost. And the index! The index references such important aspects of Perl as "Astro [from "the Jetsons"], pronouncing 'Windex'" and "Max Headroom," yet if you look up the keyword "hash" -- which has an entire chapter devoted to it -- there is no listing at all in the entire index. You can look up associative arrays (a deprecated term) though. I found this book to be hostile to the learning process. In fact, I picked it up no fewer than three times trying to learn basic perl from it, only to toss it down in frustration after pulling my hair out. Compare the ORA Korn shell book, which is beautifully instructive, concise and clear, and with a wonderful index with nearly every important function listed. This was the first ORA book I wished I hadn't bothered to purchase. One could argue that perl5 is simply too complex to be gently introduced, yet I learned more about perl from reading Webmonkey's quickie six page tutorial than I did from "Learning Perl." I was quite disappointed with this book. Buy a copy if you must, but plan to use it as a (poor) reference because its teaching abilities are limited.
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am 7. November 1998
I came to Perl from Windows, C & Delphi and wanted a quick leg up the learning ladder. This book does just that, but with some caveats. I found it hard to get past the leaden and, to me, very un-funny foreword by Larry Wall. That apart, the book does the job as advertised.
The 1st chapter (A Stroll Through Perl) is tough. It throws in a lot of code without explanation (e.g. use of =~ operator on p.11) and is very Unix-oriented. If you know C, you'll hack it, but this is heavy stuff for a non-programmer wishing to learn. Programming Perl (this book's big brother) is much tougher again. You would need to be an intermediate/advanced C & Unix hacker to go straight into Perl from there. However, if you come to use Perl regularly (and most Windows folk coming here will be using Perl for CGI stuff), you would be well advised to buy both.
The remainder of the book consists of well-paced examples, culminating in a (for me) particularly useful primer on CGI. I have just completed my first fully home-grown large CGI script, and would never have got there without this book (and CGI.pm).
So 4 stars for general content and concept, 1 star lost for dud humour and the whole "Stroll Through Perl" thing which I think increases, rather than flattens the learning curve. Don't be fooled by claims of Perl's natural or intuitive feel. It is only natural and intuitive for "Hello World" programmes. Beyond that, it is natural & intuitive only for those who have been practicing it for years. The rest of us use it like more forgiving version of C.
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am 8. Dezember 1999
This book is perfect for what the title says: Learning Perl. I own this book, the Programming Perl book, and the Advanced Perl book. All three are great for different things. If you've never written a line of Perl before this is the book to get. It will show you how to do most things related to Perl, and will even get you started in CGI and Database access. The authors often point toward valuable web resources like CPAN. In addition, the book is fun to read- not drab and dull like other programming books (this seems to be an O'Reilly thing, and maybe why I buy so many of their books).
I've written a lot of Perl code over the last year or so and I still often refer to this book for little things that I forget (like syntax for certain things, etc). This book sees the most use out of the three Perl books I own (although Programming Perl is pretty worn too).
Definately a must-have for anyone serious about programming in Perl. Especially if you write in a lot of languages like I do and don't have the brain capacity to memorize every nuance of every language. This book is easy to find information in.
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