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on December 12, 1999
Sometimes I think either Tim O'Reilly or Tom Christiansen knows what I am thinking.
In the past week alone, I can count half a dozen times I have wondered about ways to do things in Perl, and never once have I failed to get either a full solution or a running start from the information in this book. If you have read Learning Perl by Christiansen and Schwartz (and if you haven't, you probably should before tackling this one), then this is your next step on the road to Perl.
This book contains hundreds of examples of solutions to "How do I..." type problems using Perl. Ranging from core language topics like hashes, sorting, and string and array processing, to files, database access, IPC, and brief but useful sections on Web and CGI usage, there is something here for everyone who does things with Perl.
Each chapter contains at least a dozen 'recipes' for solving a particular problem in a particular context. Each recipe is neatly laid out with a brief description of the problem, a proposed solution, and a follow-up discussion section. I especially appreciated the discussions, as they maintain the plurality of Perl--the proposed solutions work, but the discussion area almost invariably also includes alternate approaches or techniques. That's the beauty of Perl (and its motto)--There's More Than One Way To Do It. This book offers the intermediate programmer years of experience in solving real world problems using Perl in a few hundred, easy to read pages.
If you have learned enough about Perl to get started, the next thing you should do is get this book. So get cooking!
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on January 18, 2000
I have owned this book for over a year and still use it regularly. While I was learning Perl syntax I found that it served very well when language guides such as "Programming Perl" fell short. When I started using the language I didn't have the syntax totally mastered and came across various little questions and problems. The "Perl Cookbook" addressed both of these by providing succinct solutions to my problems while helping me learn more about Perl syntax.
Furthermore, this book exposes you to the various Perl modules available in a more natural way than searching for them in a general language reference like "Perl in a Nutshell". Most recipies in the book present a simple code solution and then refer to a module that provides the same (and often extended) functionality.
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on December 4, 1998
After dog-earring (sic) the pages of the first edition of Programming Perl (the Camel book), I quickly glommed on to the second edition, thinking that they'll have even more informed narrative and great examples. The enhanced narrative WAS worth purchase of the second edition, but, as mentioned in the review, the "Command Tasks with Perl" and "Real Perl Programs" chapters had been dropped... it's been the closest I've ever come to letter-bombing a book publisher. Little did we know that there was a cunning plan by the Perl wizards and O'Reilly to produce The Perl Cookbook.
While in this world of instant communication some say that two years was a long time to wait for the Cookbook, the wait was definitely worth it. The Cookbook is a treasure trove of examples, and should be considered a mandatory companion to Programming Perl AND Advanced Perl Programming on the bookshelf of intermediate and advanced perl programmers.
The Cookbook is also a great place for the novice to feed after cutting their teeth on Learning Perl. Each section is a mini-tutorial with nice examples to enter and ponder. Combined with the Camel book as general background and reference, you'll go a long way in finding quick solutions to common problems.
I'm not sure what was the problem of one reviewer regarding typographical errors. I've been using the first edition of the Cookbook, and have not encountered any serious difficulties. It seems that any typographical errors (and I haven't seen any, but then I haven't been looking) would have at worst lost one star in rating the Cookbook. Benefits of the Cookbook seem to far outweigh the nits on which this reviewer has focused. I do agree with the reviewer's final note: buy copies from the second and third printings, as I'm sure the first edition has already sold out! (... and some perl book geek will view this as an opportunity to collect a "first edition.")
It's not often I'm moved to write an online review. The Perl Cookbook is a superb reference for any serious perl programmer and especially for the novice and intermediate wanting to improve their skills. Buy this book! Bon appetit!
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on December 1, 1998
I have had experience in the language for a few months now. The only reason I even started learning Perl was because I was intrigued with programming CGI. I bought "Programming Perl" and enjoyed it as a beginners reference but was left hanging as where to turn next. I picked up 2-3 other books, specifically for web programming with Perl, but they all did not get into topics besides basic form parsing, etc and the information was repeatative from book to book. I finally found this book and it has answered all my questions and cleared all my confusions with my CGI scripts. It has a lot of good examples/scripts with helpful subroutines. I use them in almost every CGI script I program now because of their ease of use and accuracy. There were a few minor mistakes in their code (perhaps a test to see if you can debug their scripts using your new knowledge <grin>) that kept it from getting a perfect 10 but 9.5 is good enough anyways. Don't hesitate to buy it as it is probably the most used and most valuable Perl book on the market!
(Not recommended unless you have basic knowledge of Perl)
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on April 13, 2000
I had a roommate in college who could learn programming languages by reading the language specifications. He took Advanced Algebra as an elective and blew the curve for the math majors. Corey went after the theory in everything. Once he understood the theory, he could extrapolate the applications.
I'm just the opposite. The theory doesn't mean squat to me until I can see a few examples. Give me enough examples, and I can extrapolate the theory.
If you're like me, this book is for you. 733 pages containing 334 examples of how to use Perl to solve virtually any programming problem you can think of. And as you examine the solutions to the various problems, you're introduced to successively more and more advanced Perl programming constructs.
In short, outstanding book.
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on November 10, 2002
In the past, I've had a bad experience with Cookbook-styles. One example would be a "CGI/Perl Cookbook". But this one is nothing like its counterpart.
To be able to follow the cookbook, you're expected to have a basic knowledge of Perl, Perl data structures and IO filehandles. The rest is "in order to get there, do like this, because of that" - style. Very easy to follow, very concise and at the same time informative. What you will appreciate the most of this book is, it doesn't just give you a solution, but it also teaches you the solution.
The book consists of 20 chapters, each chapter dedicated to a distinct subject, such as Strings, Numbers, Dates and Times, Arrays, Hashes, Pattern Matching, File access, File Contends and so on. Each chapter, consists of smaller sections, called "Receipts". Each receipt is dedicated to a solution of one commonly encountered real-life problem.
For example, Receipt 8.6, "Picking a Random Line from a File" introduces the problem , gives a very elegant solution: "rand($.) < 1 && ($line=$_) while <>", and provides a one page exciting description of the algorithm, followed by references.
Although I've been involved in Perl extensively for the last 3 years, I still catch myself skimming through the receipts to compare my solutions to that of the book. Frequently I end up discovering something new and exciting.
The book is definitely of value. Any Perl programmer should have it.
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on February 2, 2001
This is my favourite Perl book. Read the first two sections of Programming Perl, any section that deals with references, skim the rest, and start browsing the Perl Cookbook. The presentation of the varied problems and their solutions is wonderful and instructive. Most programming professors in college are neither as good at instruction, nor as pragmaticly helpful. If all you want is a book to swipe code from, don't bother; most of the book will be just extra weight. All the free code you want is on the net.
Get this book, but get this book because with each problem and solution set is a discussion of why the solution works, other solutions that are possible, and when to look toward a more robust and/or complex answer. Each chapter has ten or twenty pages that are dedicated to the programming bailiwick the chapter explores. The answers are well commented, and syntatic suggar is explained. The writing is not terribly dense, and a good sense of flow is maintained through out the book. This is one of the few technical books I own that I can just sit down and read for hours on end w/o getting bored or loosing steam.
I cannot praise this book enough. My copy is dog-eared, looks like it's been through a bad land war in SE Asia, and has tiny yellow post-its with titles marking sections I found particularly interesting or useful. With The Perl Cookbook, Programming Perl, Effective Perl Programming, Advanced Perl Programming, and Mastering Regular Expression (ack.), there are few situations a programmer can't handle. Buy this book, NOW!
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on December 17, 1998
Soon after I bought this book, it's been on my desk anytime I'm writing Perl code. It provides a fast way of getting straight to the code samples perfectly suitable for most tasks one might need to incorporate in Perl script. That much you could expect from a "cookbook".
What makes this book brilliant is that it supports the idea of "learn as you go", the very reason many programmers turned to Perl. You don't need to know every feature of the language in order to produce powerful Perl programs. What you need in most cases is in-depth knowledge of the area you're focusing on. That's exactly where "Perl Cookbook" saves the day!
Well organized set of solutions each followed with comprehensive analysis I enjoyed reading and greatly benefited from.
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Perl Cookbook is full of recipes for common classes of problems. Hundreds of them. Best of all they come with explanations and discussion of the thinking behind them. As a Perl programmer this is a time saver.

I don't want to reinvent the proverbial wheel.

Like cooking food, the Perl Cookbook's recipes are easy to modify, adapt and extend to solve your specific problems. In some ways like Effective Perl Programming(2nd Edition) Perl Cookbook is a tool for a kind of Perl thinking and approach to problem solving.

When I'm trying to get something done that I know has been done before I reach for the Perl Cookbook first. Even if it's not quite what I want I am more comfortable editing something into what I need than starting from scratch. This is just what I wanted.

The 2nd edition is updated for more modern versions of Perl and this is a plus, of course.

I hope this is helpful to someone.
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on March 22, 2001
This is easily the most useful computer book I've used. I refer to the Cookbook constantly, and it shows--the binding has come undone and the cover is falling off.
I would actually recommend purchasing this before Programming Perl, and after Learning Perl. The recipes provide quick solutions to common problems, but each recipe (and each chapter) includes a tremendous amount of background information and gloss. The wisdom of this approach is especially apparent if you take a look at the recently released PHP Developer's Cookbook.
Buy it.
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