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For a while I had been thinking of writing a meditation called "Perl books I'd like to see," but since you posted this one, I may as well add turn my meditation into a note to it.

I'd like to see someone start a whole series of Perl "cookbooks" devoted to whole modules and applications. For example, an entire book showing how to write a basic mail client in Perl, or a simple text editor, or a simple web browser, or a personal calendar/address book or an personal accounting program, or a basic mail-order website, or an internet forum like PM. Of course, these applications would not match the functionality and performance of existing open-source offerings. The point is rather to take an intermediate or advanced beginner through the process of crafting a full-blown application. This process involves many design decisions that are difficult to convey in the abstract.

One objection I have received to this idea is that the issues involved in designing such an application are not specific to Perl. That's certainly true, but the same could be said of most if not all the recipes in the Perl Cookbook. My point is that there is value to the non-expert in seeing the process of developing a full-blown application in concrete, spelled-out terms, such that design questions cannot be waved away with theoretical generalities. In a full-blown application, even a toy application like what I'm describing, tradeoffs must be examined and decisions made, and, at the end of the day, the thing has to perform.

That said, I think it would be essential to leave room for the reader to try things out on his/her own. It would be easy to include exercises such as "modify module X to add features Y and Z." The book could end with an extended discussions of ways in which the application may be enhanced, and maybe pushed beyond the level of a learning toy.

I realize that there are a lot of people programmers who do not need this type of book, but then again there are a lot of programmers who do not need books like Learning Perl, and who go straight for Programming Perl (if not the PODs). I think there'd be a sufficiently large audience for such a series.

the lowliest monk


In reply to Re: Perl books I'd like to have by tlm
in thread Perl books I'd like to have. by johnnywang

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