|Think about Loose Coupling|
Programming Web Graphics with Perl and GNU Software
By Shawn P. Wallace
I enjoyed reading this book. I'd have to say that I got through this O'Reilly book faster than any one I read. And now, its definately going to be one I'll keep handy.
The thing I like about this book is that it is really focused directly on web graphics. It doesn't take time to dive into all the details that people wouldn't care about if they were only trying to put together something for a website.
In the first section of the book, Introduction to Web Graphics, I found a lot of valuable background information that really brought me up to speed on topics which I had heard about before, but never fully understood. Chapter 1 of the book takes the GIF, PNG, and JPEG formats and explains the basic file structure for each format. Topics such as interlacing, compression, and alpha channels are also explained. Chapter 2 Discusses web browsers and servers. It explains compatability issues and explains the 6x6x6 "web safe" color cube. Chapter 3 Provides an alphabetical catalog of various graphic libraries and utilities which are available, along with their history and URL's.
I found section 2, Graphics Programming Tools, to be oriented more to people who were less interested in how things worked, but wanted to know how to use the various API's to achieve what they wanted. Chapters 4 through 7 each deal with GD, PerlMagic, GIFgraph, and Gimp, respectively. Each chapter explains the library, provides some samples and tutorials for the library, and finally provides a comprehensive reference for the library. I can really see these chapters getting a lot of milage in the future. (Yes I know, I could probably get the same thing from a perldoc, but sometimes its easier to have things in front of you on paper).
The third section of the book, Dynamic Graphic Techniques serves as a sort of miscelaneous section with things that don't really fit anywhere else, but are really useful to somebody leaning how to program web graphics. Chapter 8 deals with creating image maps (both static ones and ones that are dynamically created). Chapter 9 delves into the art of gif animation. It explains how the animation works, then talks about how to create animated gifs using PerlMagick and GIFscript. Chapter 10 provides a useful cookbook with various scripts ready to use for different purposes. And finally, Chapter 11 explains how to build printable graphics documents. This chapter deals mostly with postcript programming.
In summary, I really liked this book. It seems to have something for everyone. It was a good book for me because not only was I able to read it like a book and learn a lot about graphics formats and programming, I will also be able to use it later on as a cookbook and API reference.