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on April 16, 2007
I'd like to give this book 4.5 stars, but that doesn't seem to be an option. I think quite highly of Lua and use it a lot. So I like to keep a collection of references that I can loan out to my colleagues and my students in a nut-so-subtle attempt to get them hooked. This book fulfills that role quite nicely.

I think this is an excellent book for several reasons: 1) I can loan it out both to intro students (who have not had much experience in compiling/installing software, coding anything other than toy programs, etc.) and I can loan it to colleagues who can skip all the fundamental material and yet still learn something interesting about Lua, and programming in general; 2) although it's close to 650 pages, it's 650ish pages of useful material, it doesn't achieve its bulk by being filled with gazillions of pages of on-line API documentation, and other fluff like many other intro books; 3) it has exercises (with answers in the back) for each chapter.

There are only two complaints I have with the book and neither are major. In Chapter 18 (Carrying Lua with you) there is no mention of the Lua port for PocketPC and a handful of other platforms. Although I don't use Windows much, there is a nice port of Lua that I use on an HP iPAQ. The other complaint is perhaps a little curmudgeonly: I don't like the authors' usage of the term "side-effect". While technically correct, it doesn't really align well with how most people, particularly in an intro setting, use the term.

That said, I think this is an excellent intro to Lua, contains good examples of programming in general, and I'm quite pleased to have a copy on my book collection.
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on November 3, 2007
First of all, I am impressed with this book. It is easy reading. The technical content is cohesive. It flows from one topic to the next in a smooth logical manor. The writers did a very good job of directing the text to me, the reader, and not to empty space. I have been programming with real time embedded systems since 1975. My first programming experience was writing assembler code in Octal for an Intel 8080a processor. Since those days, I have had the opportunity, or the misfortune as some would say, to read volumes of manuals. Most manuals were written by the supplier of the CPU, such as Intel, Motorola, Zilog, TI, ST Micro, etc. To say the least, the information was mostly there. Although it took an enormous amount of time to `extract' the information. The point of this, is to say time is precious. Having to read a manual while under a time deadline is not much fun. So when I began reading Lua Programming by Jung and Brown, was I pleasantly surprised! It is as though the writers were in the room talking directly to me. Not talking to empty space, but actually talking to me, the reader. Because they took the time to write clearly and concisely, this book will be in my library with my 8080a assembly language primer.

However before I finish, I feel that I must address an injustice. At this time, there are two other reviews of this book, those reviews did a terrible hack job in the form of a review. It appears nothing more that an amateurish attempt to discredit a fine book. Since both refer to the exact same book, I can only image they were paid to write those disingenuous reviews.

I would honestly rate this book as a solid 4.5 for the above mentioned items. But because of the two hacks, I shall rate the book a 5 to right the afore mentioned injustice.
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on May 6, 2007
I think that some of the reviewers might have been a little harsh on this book. I do agree that the coverage of some of the more in-depth topics such as metatables, closures, upvalues to mention a few may have been better presented in the PIL but this book does offer value in its presentation of web programming, database programming and compiling Lua for various platforms, all of which are not covered in the PIL.

Also on the plus side, the typesetting is a bit richer and you can download all of the examples in the book from the wrox web site. Also, you will find that the examples covered in this book are quite extensive. PIL is better suited for more experienced programmers but if you are starting out with a scripting language, you have chosen well in Lua and you can't really go wrong with this book.
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on October 24, 2013
This is a fantastic book and one that I find myself re-reading. The strength is in the long-form exercises and conversational tone. It's kind of a better, lighter weight version of "Programming Principles and Practice in C++".

Example: In one of the exercises the authors side-effect a variable; that is, they changed the value of something that was outside of the function. Then, the spend a couple of paragraphs discussing the pros and cons of doing things like that.

This is found throughout the book and it highlights its value: As a book on how to think like and be a programmer.

I WISH that they'd update this for Lua 5.2. Lua 5.2's _ENV feature is well-worth exploring in an educational context and I know that these authors would do an excellent job of it.

-ANdrew
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on March 19, 2013
I had to learn lua in my new job and I must say that's a great book to get quickly up to speed with lua.
It'll be both useful for newbie programmers and seasoned developers.
I'm a bit puzzled why some people wrote negative reviews, but in my opinion
it's a great book if you want to get a good understanding of what lua is and is not.
Alghough, Programming in Lua is also a great book to read, but newcomers to programming would find it quite difficult.
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on April 19, 2007
First let me describe my background, so you know where I'm coming from.

I'm an experienced programmer by trade and was interested in writing a C application in my spare time that used Lua as an internal scripting engine.

Much to my surprise I found this book to be confusing. I found the description of upvalues, closures and tail calls hard to understand. I found the way the book handled Lua's object-oriented programming methodology (and modules) was very sparse and not very useful.

Finally, most pertinent to me is the content on how to integrate and use Lua from a host C application. It was disappointingly lacking. First, that content is split over two chapters haphazardly (Chapter 12 - Using Community Libraries, where the book describes calling a C function from Lua, and Chapter 13 - Interfacing Lua with Other Languages, where the rest of the content resides). In addition the book totally omits information on how to setup a full hosting environment to Lua - such as making all the standard Lua libraries available to your scripts. Hint: use luaL_openLibs... this isn't mentioned anywhere in the book. This is important to know, because if you don't provide the libraries, your script won't be able to use io, strings, etc. A quick search on the internet revealed all I needed to get started on this topic - google Christian Larsen's "Using Lua with C++" tutorial for something that is actually WELL WRITTEN, and that something the book should have covered.

I would recommend people stay away from this book and get Programming in Lua, Second Edition by Roberto Ierusalimschy instead. I ended up buying this book after finding myself in circles from reading Beginning Lua Programming.
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on June 17, 2014
I bought this book a few years ago and finally got around to reading it all the way through. It has a lot of information but a lot of stuff that was missing was complete explanation to using Lua within "C" applications. I came across the same material on various websites and it bothered me. However there are other great things about this book. It teaches how to use Lua in multiple ways such as web servers, stand alone scripts, etc. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who is just starting to program because it can be intimidating based on size alone.
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on September 16, 2014
Not the best introduction on Lua for different reasons:
- way too many examples not Lua-specific, too much about generic procedural programming.
- it's like a cookbook that could use most other languages as well for the same recipes.
- too big for a beginner, almost 700 pages.
- not well organized, no Lua language reference.
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on December 18, 2014
Definitely a programmers guide. More intense than a beginners guide. Could see this used as a text book for a Lua programing class.
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on January 1, 2014
Very good but for someone like me, a true beginner, not basic enough. Step-by-step assumes more prior knowledge than I have. Example: step 3 - Open directory. My reaction: Ummm....how?
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