Perl by Example (4th Edition)
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2003
This book was the required and only text for an introductory Perl class that I took. The students generally panned the book. While we appreciated having an extensive source of examples (the book is over 800 pages long), the examples often seemed trivial and repetitive.
Let's look at what the book is not. This book is not an introductory programming book-it does not cover basic principles of programming. This book is not a Perl tutorial-it does not introduce Perl concepts and features in a systematic and integrated way. For example, consider the various array functions. All you get in the book is a series of separate sections on each function. There is no discussion that push and pop might somehow be related. This book is not a Perl reference-it does not provide complete and easy-to-access information. For example, it only rarely covers exception conditions. Consider the pop function-the book never indicates what happens if you apply the pop function to an empty array.
So what is this book? It is an extensive source of trivial and repetitive examples. This book might be a good supplementary text for people who learn best through numerous repetitive examples. Also, the systematic three-part layout of each example is helpful (the format of the Perl language element, an example script with output, and an explanation).
If you want a book of Perl examples, you might consider the "Perl Cookbook" by Christiansen and Torkington.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 1999
I've been a programmer for over 23 years (started very young) and I've programmed in Perl for about two years. Out of the 24 Perl books I own (including most of the O'Reilly books), this is one of my two favorites. The examples are excellent and there is a brief description of almost everything. I have used Perl on both UNIX and Windows NT, but am using mostly Windows NT now and this book has helped greatly just by explaining things better than Learning Perl and Programming Perl (O'Reilly). My other favorite which lists many libraries/packages is Perl Cookbook (O'Reilly).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2003
I picked up this book as a tutorial/reference for my Perl class. Overall I found this books explanations to be very clear and comprehensible for even the novice. There are many good illustrative examples. It covers some very important features like sort, map, grep and also split. The regular expression coverage is really well done. In addition to coverage these foundation concepts, the book also delves into some more advanced features of Perl such as file i/o and database (DBI).
Despite, the this excellent work, I have found the book does have some shortcomings that I think should be taken into account. There are several foundation concepts that are not adequately covered. For example, substr() only has a little reference blurb, but one cannot comprehend what substr is doing without seeing adequate examples. The vanilla reference from PerlDoc.com is a bit more adequate. I also found the file i/o cumbersome to sift through. I had to hunt for information I needed.
The book's attempt to be platform neutral, or rather multi-platform embracing, is great. I thought adding Mac and Win coverage for file i/o was more than appropriate and very useful. However, when covering advanced features, I wish Quigley could have sprinkled some resourceful platform specific coverage, such as Administration, Registry, and OLE Automation (VBA-like functionality) on Windows, or OSA (Open Scripting Architecture) or AppleScript-like functionality, on the Macintosh.
Overall, I think the book is excellent, but definately not the only book needed for foundation concepts of Perl. In my narrow scope of getting a good reference book for my Perl course, I would have chosen another book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2002
Ellie Quigley delivers again. Her latest version of Perl by Example has been completely updated to include the latest features of the most fun programming language in existence. The new format is even easier to read than before. Anyone programming in a Linux environment will be particularly impressed with her treatment of Linux shells. As in previous books, Quigley's examples are always short and to the point. She explains each and every line of code in her examples leaving nothing to the imagination. I've been teaching Perl at the corporate and college level for four years, and would recommend this book over all others to people who are trying to learn the language for the first time, or to those who just want a complete reference at their side. This book's a keeper!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2006
I use the Perl language daily (and I love it). I own several of Ellie's books and have taken classes from her in Silicon Valley. The books are clear, the index is excellent, but the examples are too simple. Many examples use input typed in from the keyboard (instead of reading in input from a file). Business applications/corporate applications usually read in input from a file.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2004
I have been learning Perl for about 2 months now, I have a little shell scripting experience but that is it. I 1st started with Learning Perl by O'Reilly. Good book but lacking on the examples, I then went to programming Perl by Larry Wall, a great book for intermediate to advanced, didn't help me much beginning Perl. I then picked up Perl by Examples 3rd edition, this book is superb, a well written programming book. I have read many Computer based books and this definately ranks top 2 in my opinion. The examples are excellent, she shows you the code, the ouput of each line, and then explains each line in every example. So if you forgot something from the 2nd chapter and it shows up in the 5th, it is explained again to you in the example, so you don't have to go through the book and find it. This is a must have for any Perl programmer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2004
I'm using this book in a class and, while it's fairly solid, I've found a lot of it to be repetitive and lengthier than it needs to be. The O'Reilly "Learning Perl" book is probably a better place to start, although it's helpful to have a bit of UNIX under your belt before tackling that one (come to think of it, you should probably know a bit about UNIX before tackling Perl, regardless of what book you're using).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2009
Wow -- what a frustrating experience! I'm an experienced programmer who is familiar with both C and shell programming, which are the two areas that are referenced often in the book, but it was *still* hard to figure out how to do things in Perl using this book.

My biggest complaint is the very poor organization. As some other reviewers noted, it seems to be a random collection of tidbits, but not organized logically or hierarchically like every other programming book I've ever read.

For example, as I write this, I'm trying to figure out how to read lines from a file. I looked at the section for "Report Writing". As most anyone can figure out, when you write a report, you need data. So this section goes on and on about generating reports. But all the example simply output the contents of various variables. As anyone who processes data knows, the normal sequence of things is: read data, process data, output data. Well, I have yet to find how to simply read in lines from a text file. I mean the book talks about printf, so I assume there is something similar to scanf or gets or something similar right? I'm sure it must be in here somewhere, but so far it is not obvious from the table of contents or the index.

Hey, so what about this section called "Getting a Handle on Files"? Nope! It tells you how to open and close files, and how to even output lines of text to a file, but amazingly, it doesn't mention how to read lines from a file! ARGHHHH!!!

I guess this author must expect data to spontaneously, magically materialize from thin air!

I finally figured it out! ...but not from this book. It took me two minutes with Google to figure out what I couldn't find in this book after half an hour!

So, now that I know the "trick" to reading lines from a file, out of curiosity, I try to find the info in the book. So I search the index for "$_". Well, guess what? You know how most languages have their share of special characters (including operators, of course), so every programming book I've read had these symbols in the index (and as far as I can recall, usually right at the front of the index)? Well, this book does not put the special symbols in the index! This is a huge shortcoming, because as you read through the book and see these various symbols for the first time, it is usually very convenient to be able to look them up in the index (as opposed to trying to search in the book for the first occurrence of the symbol). Well, that's not an option here... Ridiculous!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 1999
If you are going to buy many books on Perl this might be one to buy early. It plods through some simple examples.
If you only plan to buy one Perl book, keep looking. This is not a good reference. You only get glimpses of topics, and information is hard to find.
If you only want to learn enough perl to solve a particular problem, keep looking, unless of course your problem happens to be like one of the examples.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2003
As a programmer experienced with Java and C, I needed to learn PERL for a new project. I started out with this book and I'm finding it acceptable, but not great. It certainly has enough examples, but the actual presentation of the language was lacking. It relies far too heavily on examples for me, and reading through hundreds of examples has turned out to be a frustrating and difficult way to learn. I think I'm going to try a different book and hope for something better.
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