Top positive review
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Exploit the web with power and ease
on September 1, 2002
Disclaimer: The author is an online-type-friend and I used to work with the author of the foreword. I even got my copy for free.
If the above hasn't totally disqualified me from commenting, I just wanted to note some things most reviewers have ignored.
The book is an excellent resource for two kinds of people.
Many people scan technical books looking for little scripts and thingies; a few lines changed and BOOM! They have the program they always wanted. Sean provides those in abundance.
It is also a good resource for a complete novice to learn about the hodgepodge of technologies we call the web - the ... wire protocol, markup languages, tree-based parsers, and encodings, to name just a few. The author is an expert in all of these, but has restrained himself to provide just enough information to get a programmer going. I was impressed time and again with how he manages to give the reader exactly enough knowledge to get their tasks done, with short but accurate explanations and pointers on where to learn more.
Best of all, this is a funny technical book. Usually if a technical book has pretensions to humor, it jabs you in the arm repeatedly with lots of groaner puns and dumb cartoons, in order to fill the space between bland code sections. But Sean has sprinkled the *code sections* with his dada sense of humor, which also highlights the difference between mere placeholder data and the concept being illustrated. And then the text gets right back to the point.
This is a slim work (242 pages, no thicker than my thumb) but packs a lot of value for your money. So buy it already.
My only criticism is that it is exclusively focused on consuming services on the web - like downloading TV listings and so on. But you can use everything Sean talks about to also *publish* information; for instance, making some nifty Perl-based thing to update your online journal from MS Word or something. Or to aggregate information that's out there, and feed it back onto the web. Nevertheless, if you've got half a brain it will be obvious how to do this stuff once you've absorbed everything you'll get from this book.