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Book mini-review: Modern Perl May 3, 2011

Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,

Modern Perl cover Ok. You are really lazy, curious and want to know my opinion? Buy the book. It’s great. If you are less lazy, keep reading.

I was really exited about this book. Even before the book was published, chromatic regularly posted very interesting articles and, maybe more importantly, posed questions. It felt like chromatic was thinking out loud and he welcomed everyone who wanted to take part. The text for the book is open for collaboration and lively discussions took place in his blog. He goes a step further and offers the ebook and pdf version for free. It’s a good feeling to be sure that you are not buying a cat in a bag.

What kind of book is it?  It’s the kind of book that it’s fun to read (sadly this is not that common in the IT world). It’s not the kind of book that offends your intellect by trying too hard to be funny nor the dry stuff that put you into sleep. It’s not a reference. It’s not a tutorial. It’s not the book a would suggest for someone who wants to learn Perl, but it certainly be the one to read after that (if your friend is serious about programming he will not stop at “Learning Perl“).

Because the pdf is freely available you can have a look yourself at the contents, but just glossing over the titles of the chapters gives you a good idea:

  • The Perl Philosophy
  • Perl and Its Community
  • The Perl Language
  • Operators
  • Functions
  • Regular Expressions and Matching
  • Objects
  • Style and Efficacy
  • Managing Real Programs
  • Perl Beyond Syntax
  • What to Avoid
  • What’s Missing

Modern Perl is not the book that teaches you specific technologies du jour. chromatic aims higher and moves the bar from “how” to “why”. By doing so it’s clear that for the author the Modern Perl revival is more than the sum of new CPAN modules fixing what’s broken in Perl 5. It’s a book about understanding the basics of Perl 5. The good and the bad stuff. And how to use this knowledge, a quest for Good Programming. I specially appreciate “The Perl Philosophy” as it manages to explain clearly the basic assumptions of Perl (and at the same time give a valid answer to the “write-only” accusations). Even if you have programmed Perl for a while, you’ll be surprised on how nice it is to see things clearly explained what you probably “kind-of” knew.  chromatic’s inviting style helps a lot.

I pre-ordered the book on Amazon before it came out and I haven’t regretted it for a second. It lives next to my “Perl Best Practices” copy. I appreciate when content providers treat me with respect and not as a pirate (DRM!). That’s why I hope this publishing model is viable (open content, free pdf, free epub, companion site). I don’t mind voting with my wallet.

Buy it at amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.fr or amazon.com (depending on your country).


1. Joseph Brenner - May 3, 2011

Yes, “Modern Perl” is very good: both tight and readable, this is the missing Camel (Oreilley’s “Programming Perl” has been stuck at edition 3 for far too long).

I’ve got some complaints (I think “chromatic” abuses the word “context”… I would say — in the context of perl — there are only three contexts, the potential returns from wantarray), but they’re really just quibbles.

I wish there were more books like this on different subjects. Focusing on the state-of-the-art and downplaying legacy is definitely the way to go.

2. chromatic - May 4, 2011

See Want.pm on the CPAN for a discussion of several other effective contexts in Perl 5.

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