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The Perl Cookbook

by splinky (Hermit)
on Jul 09, 2000 at 00:13 UTC ( [id://21664]=bookreview: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
Order The Perl Cookbook

Item Description:

Review Synopsis:

Perl Cookbook by Tom Christiansen and Nathan Torkington
ISBN 1-56592-243-3
Copyright 1998, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

Capsule Review

Excellent book. 5 stars out of 5.

Who should be interested in this book?

  • All Perl programmers
  • Anyone interested in learning Perl
  • Particularly, anyone who learns best by example

Full Review

There are very few books I consider essential to a good Perl library, and the Perl Cookbook is one of them. The information is excellent, and I think O'Reilly hit a home run when they combined Tom Christiansen's attention to detail with Nathan Torkington's wit.

Like many people, I learn best by looking at examples and tweaking them to see what happens. If you're like me, you'll love this book. Nothing but examples start to finish. 733 glorious, fun-filled pages of them.

The book is also thoughtfully and carefully organized. The first few chapters are basic, introductory Perl, and then the book gradually builds through process management and interprocess communication, finally ending with CGI programming and web automation. And within each chapter, the examples slowly escalate in complexity, so that even as you're learning how to do what the example is about, you're also coming across more and more advanced language features and idioms.

So, is there anything wrong with the book? Some people may be put off by its rather disjointed feel. Take Object Oriented Perl, for example. It is, of course, about writing object oriented programs with Perl. Every chapter is directed toward that theme.

But the Perl Cookbook, by its very nature, has no single unifying theme. It's about doing just about anything you can think of in Perl. So, every chapter stands on its own, and to a large extent every section is autonomous, as well.

The question is, is this really a bad thing? I would argue that it isn't. The book is exactly what it claims to be. A recipe book. Recipe books don't read like novels. The recipes are organized in sections -- casseroles, desserts, meats, and so forth -- but I better not have to go back and read the Bread Pudding recipe in order to make Banana Pudding. So, the Perl Cookbook is organized exactly as it should be. Into neat little free-standing recipes.

However, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't point out the one real problem with the Perl Cookbook. The title. The book's title is Perl Cookbook. Why couldn't they have put a "The" at the beginning? I thought I'd eventually get used to it, but it still irritates me. Oh, well. Nothing is perfect, I suppose.

So, in summary, an excellent book, especially for those of us who learn by example. Go get one right now.


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: The Perl Cookbook
by wganz (Novice) on Mar 21, 2001 at 00:38 UTC

    It rates as a "pry it from my cold dead fingers" book. Required if you are going beyond 'print "Hello World";'. Get Jon Orwant's Perl 5 Interactive Course, which IMHO is better than the 'llama' book, for starters; then, The Cookbook to fill in. Later, start filling out your Perl library with what you need.

Re: The Perl Cookbook
by dze27 (Pilgrim) on Apr 20, 2001 at 00:42 UTC

    I'm in total agreement with splinky (btw, good review) -- this is an awesome book which you need if you don't have it already.

    If you're an inductive learner like me (you take specifics and figure out the general principles from those) then you will find this book particularly useful.

    The book is astonishingly broad. It seems as though the authors have covered just about everything. Before I got the book I kind of thought that the examples would be too specific and would somehow never apply to my programming, but that was completely wrong -- I've directly applied many of the examples given.

Re: The Perl Cookbook
by giulienk (Curate) on Nov 19, 2001 at 20:41 UTC
    I just bought it and now I know why everybody is talking about it in such a wonderful way. I got a few problems writing my WWW::SMS module and with some CGI redirect when The Perl Cookbook came into my life: what a great inspirer! :) In half an hour i knew the answer to every problem i had. This is a great book indeed.

    PS: i'm not payed by Tom Christiansen or whoever to talk about it in this way.

Re: The Perl Cookbook
by /dev/null (Chaplain) on Sep 04, 2002 at 15:48 UTC
    I have to agree. This book has taken me right from the clutches of programmers "writers block". This book always proves it's worth when you need to follow by example. A must have Perl reference for the novice to the Advanced programmmer.
      And now comes the Second Edition. 80 new recipes, 100 updated recipes, and two new chapters, one on mod_perl and the other on XML. An excellent update to a beloved must have. My only gripe is that the examples are not yet up on the O'Reilly site.
Re: The Perl Cookbook
by Phenomanan (Monk) on Oct 07, 2016 at 19:34 UTC

    This book worked excellently as a beginner guide when I first started learning Perl. I went through this book for a few weeks before my job started to get an intermediate understanding of Perl, and then googled anything more advanced or specific that I needed after that. It definitely gave me a solid foundation on which to add (a lot) more. My coworkers almost always come to me with Perl related work or questions now :) I couldn't recommend this book more. 10/10

Re: The Perl Cookbook
by Rich36 (Chaplain) on Sep 27, 2001 at 19:01 UTC
    Definitely agree with all of what's been said about the book. This has really helped me get to a new level in my coding. Not only have the examples introduced me to a lot of new concepts, but it's also been very helpful in learning different ways to structure my code. After you've worked your way through a Perl book that's designed for beginners, this is definitely one of the next books to get.


RE: A Review of the Perl Cookbook (capsule review)
by ybiC (Prior) on Jul 09, 2000 at 03:38 UTC
    splinky's review style is a winner by me. Capsule Review with "who should be interested in this book" is great. Like any good Monk, this book is already in my library, and I concur with all his observations. Only thing missing is a link to the publisher.

    Now I'd like to read a splinky review on a book he didn't care for.

      Good idea about the link to the publisher. I'll make that change to everything tomorrow.

      As far as a review of a book I didn't like... I'd be hard pressed to think of a technical book I've read that I didn't like. Not because I just love all technical books, but because if I'm gonna spend $40 on a book, I'm not doing it blind. I check Amazon reviews, Tom Christiansen's reviews, I do Deja searches on the title... by the time I write the check, I know I'm gonna like the book.

      I dunno... I could always go to my manager's office and grab his copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Perl 5 Unleashed in 15 Minutes for Dummies with CD ROM or whatever it is he has in there :-)


Re: The Perl Cookbook
by cowhide (Initiate) on Jul 22, 2005 at 20:25 UTC
    I agree completely, splinky. The Cookbook is the only book I have at my desk at work. I use it a lot.

    Then I google up a snippet and start 'rapid cycling' until I have created a huge, impossible-to-understand plate of spaghetti.

    When a small man casts a long shadow, the sun is going DOWN, baby!

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