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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2007
I was initially not excited by O'Reilly's "Developer's Notebook" line of books. A lot of things conspired to make me turn up my nose. The design looked too gimmicky, the first few books turned me off (I don't remember specifics, but it was something like Excel Macros, Java Networking, and some other crap), and something inside me just felt like it was a dumb idea. I don't know why: I used to use similar references all the time, back when the Linux HOWTOs weren't useless. Anyway, when I heard that the new Perl testing book was going to be a notebook, I sort of groaned, but I still made sure I got it as soon as it was out and dug in.

Testing is Really Important. It serves as a secondary form of documentation, it makes it easier to add new features, it makes it easier to fix broken features, and it makes your replacement's job a lot easier when you win the lottery and retire early. It's a sad fact that plenty of people don't test their code, and that many of those who want to just don't know how. PTDN is a crash course for those people. It gets right to the point: page one says, roughly, "You know you should be testing, so here's how you do it. First, run the CPAN shell and install Test::Simple."

The rest of the book sticks to that no-crap attitude. "You want to do X. Here's what you do, and here's what happens when you do it." There isn't much of "why should I do this" or "how does this work on the inside" and that's just right. The book isn't there to show you how Devel::Cover works, or to explain the ideas behind agile development. It's there to help you do the job you know you need to do. It's like an old-style HOWTO extracted back one level of abstraction, or a set of nice fat articles on a series of related topics.

In fact, I think it's safe to say that a more traditional technical book on this subject might have been just the sort of overblown self-important thing that would've kept more people scared of and away from testing. Instead, it's a great crash course for the uninitiated.

For the initiated, I'm not sure how useful it would be. I must say that I didn't find many new or esoteric things in PTDN, but I don't think I'm its target audience. I already use and love coverage reports, I aim for full coverage on my code, and I like keeping my eye on the Test:: namespace for neat new tricks. If I were to hire a lackey, though, who wasn't already familiar with testing, this book would be high up on his must-read list. Knowing how to test your software is vitally important, and this book provides a very short path to that knowledge.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2005
You'll read this book cover-to-cover. It's easy,

it's concise, it's fun and it will change your

testing attitude. You'll be inspired immediately,

roll up your sleeves and get started.

Sure, Ian Langworth and chromatic could have

written a 700-page reference tome on all the

different testing modules available and how to use

every single feature. Instead, they just show you

what expert perl programmers do when they're

testing their work.

They're getting you 90% there. If you need more,

it's easy to pick up the details from the manual

pages of the various testing modules, most of

which come with excellent documentation. The

value of this book is that it shows you what's

available and covers an astonishing amount of

different use cases.

O'Reilly's "Developer's Notebook" style is

somewhat unusual, very FAQ-like. The only gripe I

have with this series are recurring headlines like

"How do I do that?" and "What just happened?",

which I'd rather like to be replaced by


Summary: I strongly recommend this book if you

want to improve the quality of your code by

verifying it thoroughly. Using the recipes in

"Perl Testing" takes the unsexyness out of

Quality Assurance.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2006
Love this book, excellent intro to Perl testing. One of the few (or only) books on Perl testing out there. Not sure what the people who gave it a low rating would've recommended instead - there are some web docs out there but they are all by chromatic too.

Contents include the following:

Test::More, Dest::Deep, test_ok, cmp_deeply, is, Devel::Cover, Test::Harness, Mock modules, program testing, testing databases and Apache, and much more.

Fairly easy to follow. If you program seriously in Perl, but need to learn more about testing, this is the book to have.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2005
If you have never been involved in testing your Perl stuff this book lets you know just about everything that you would want to know. Being new to Perl, this book told me everything I wanted to know about testing my Perl programs.

If you are already testing your Perl programs, this book may give you some ideas or get you thinking about different ways to test. If you have never tested your Perl programs before, this book is a fantastic resource.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2005
Like most of the Notebook series this is a short rocket ride though a series of topics. But this book is written well enough that the flow of test driven development for every type of code will work for an experienced Perl programmer. The book covers the fundamentals of test driven development. It also covers database code testing, and web app testing through robots. An excellent book on Perl and a great addition to the set of O'Reilly Perl books.

While you are looking you should also check out "Perl Best Practices", which is phenomenal.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2005
My introduction to this book was incredibly valuable. I had been having a problem installing a particular module in ActiveState Perl: I kept getting an error message saying the module was not found, even though the ActiveState website showed that the module WAS available. Well, on page 4 of this book, in the "What About..." section, they answered my question exactly: Test::More is part of the Test::Simple distribution and therefore, you have to install Test::Simple. Very frustrating problem solved, thanks to this book. My delight with the format and presentation continued as I read through the remainder of the material. This book covers not only testing (and a great job of that!) but also introduces a number of additional modules which can be very helpful in Perl development. I particularly like the fact that some of the newer modules are introduced. For example, not only is covered, but also, so you get to compare them side-by-side and learn the differences. I also like the fact that the book includes complete code examples -- of both modules and their test scripts. This means that you can type them in and try them out for real, and then tweak/tune them as you need (and learn more along the way as you introduce your own errors).

I especially like the no-nonsense approach to the topic: this is a "lab", not a "lecture". Hats off to the O'Reilly folks for changing the paradigm and creating a winner!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2007
Throughout history, many writers have written glowingly about the noble tester; the one who ensures that quality is part of every line of code. Children know the names of all of the famous testers, and have committed to memory their noble deeds. There are series of trading cards with the stats of every code tester that has ever lived. OK, perhaps this is all a load of humbug. Testing code is as highly thought of as documentation and debugging; we know we need to do it, but not many developers look forward to doing it. Its the rare developer that leaps from her chair and exclaims "I've just finished this code! Now I get to go test it!". Perl Testing: A Developer's Notebook (hereafter referred to as Perl Testing) may not make the process of debugging Perl code any more sexy or appealing, but it does have some excellent tips and strategies for tightening and streamlining the whole development process.

Perl Testing is part of O'Reilly's Developer's Notebook series of books. The idea is to get the ideas to press quickly, so the books are very concise, straight to the point, and include some themed features such as notes in the margins and "coffee stains". It makes for a more causal book, and stresses workable solutions rather than extreme formality. Sure, its a bit gimmicky, but the format works, and gets the information out quickly. Unfortunately it appears O'Reilly hasn't published any books in this series since Perl Testing so I hope they resurrect it for future topics.

Perl Testing is divided into nine chapters: Beginning Testing, Writing Tests, Managing Tests, Distributing Your Tests (and Code), Testing Untestable Code, Testing Databases, Testing Web Sites, Unit Testing with Test::Class, and Testing Everything Else. Each chapter has several subtopics, beginning with a prelude describing the testing situation, a "How do I do that" explanation, a "What just happened" discussion of the results, and a "What about..." exploration of other tips and tricks. This formality, even for such an informal book, makes for an easy-to-read style, and allows for the book to be used both as a tutorial and a reference for specific tests and testing situations. The code for the tests is both well written and clear, and the tests themselves are well thought out. One might accuse the authors of being too paranoid with their testing, but when bugs are out to get you, paranoia is just good thinking.

Perl Testing is a well-thought out book. I enjoyed leafing through the tests, and found myself thinking "I never thought of that" at some of the tests performed. Some might think that a whole book devoted to testing might be a bit extreme, but compared with other books who dedicate maybe a chapter or two for testing, having this subject covered at length is long overdue. The best summary for Perl Testing would be on the back cover: "You don't have to be a die-hard free and open source developer who lives, breathes, and dreams Perl to use Perl Testing: A Developer's Notebook. You just have to want to do your job better". This is an excellent resource for those looking to have their Perl programs truly sing, and demonstrate their resilience to the bugs and other foibles that plague software development. If you're even thinking of doing Perl programming, and care at all about the quality of your code, you owe yourself a read through Perl Testing: A Developer's Notebook.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2007
This is a decent overview of Perl testing libraries, that goes further than the material in Intermediate Perl and the second edition of Advanced Perl Programming. It also moves pretty fast, as is the practical bent of the Developer's Notebook series. This will be welcome for any programmer familiar with testing tools in other languages, although testing newbies should be able to understand the mechanics without trouble.

Apart from the unit testing basics, it also goes over mocks, coverage, databases, webpages, testing documentation and module layout, and (most importantly for Perl) testing scripts. The Test::Class module, a xUnit-style module is also covered, although the more procedural Test::More seems to be the standard tool in Perl and is given the most attention. Code for a simple continuous integration tool is presented, which is pretty neat, given how short it is.

The emphasis in this book is very much on the how, rather than the why. Unlike many other books, you are given complete code along with how to execute the scripts and the expected output, which is very helpful. What isn't covered is any of the development methodologies that have driven the interest in testing methods. There's no discussion of Test Driven Development here, or how developer-driven unit testing meshes with the software building process, and there's only cursory or no discussion of what to test, where to start, test organisation (which IMO quickly becomes the limiting step in going test-infected), dealing with legacy code, dummies vs stubs vs mocks, white box vs black box testing etc. For the latter, you will have to consult the likes of xUnit Test Patterns,Unit Testing in Java and Test Driven Development: A Practical Guide. None of these books contain Perl code, however.

This is not a very long book, and there's not always the detail you might want for the more advanced topics. The emphasis on applications rather than principles also means that the book is a little vulnerable to API changes and newer CPAN modules. That said, part of the deal with the Developer's Notebook series is the lack of ceremony, so as long as you know what you're getting it's hard to complain, particularly as it's possible to pick up a copy at a reasonable price. Also, the writing itself is clear, direct and no-nonsense. It's a useful resource, and certainly in a more convenient format than scrolling through countless perldoc pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2007
This is a compact and **concise** presentation of "here's how to do it" code examples, with supporting explanatory text to take you through the examples quickly. It covers a very wide range of testing scenarios, but it's organized so you don't have to read much more than just the section you're interrested in.

You can take a look at a sample chapter of the book on-line at the O'Reilly website. The book's rating here on Amazon is high, but there are a few who really didn't like it, so it's probably a good idea to take a look at the sample.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2007
This is a short but solid intro to perl's Test modules. Easy to read, mostly easy to follow.

What it's not:

* an intro to TDD methodologies; for that you should look at the Beck book

* an in-depth guide to the full array of Test::* modules. There's a section on using MockModule and MockObject, but like all the other chapters it's basically just one example of a class + a test script with a brief discussion of "What just happend?"

* Cheap. With largish print and only 180 pages (including index) the cover price of $29.95 is no bargain.

Still recommended for someone trying to get started with perl test frameworks.
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