Both Perl and PHP will go through a watershed this year, 2003,
with major upgrades with large impacts on the syntax and semantics of two
very popular open source languages. Hopefully they will maintain more backward
compatibility than did VB in its recent move from VB6 to VB.NET. Microsoft
has not even been able to provide a
reliable, 100% (80% is their best estimate) migration utility to get VB6 code
(VB5 and earlier versions are left out in the cold) translated to the new
VB.NET. The result is that VB.NET coders can easily spend more time doing
unwanted conversions then producing new code. Hopefully Perl and PHP will
do better. Because the last thing developers need on top of learning a
new language is doing conversions of what is essentially working code.
So given that Perl is about to change - and likely profoundly, these
reviews will err on the side of brevity and caution.
||The problem with learning Perl and PHP is that there
are so many modules which extend the language into database, graphics,
mail monitoring, web services, etc. Also both languages have object
oriented extensions which allow even more clip-on modules to be
created. Mastering all the libraries associated with a language
is becoming a daunting task. Steve Holzner's Perl Core Language
helps to address that issue by doing the opposite - deciding what
is core to the language and in a small; but jam packed volume
teaching that very well.
Steve has already written the big Black Book on Perl
- so he knows where to begin. He gets you started doing Perl scripts
very well. Making sure your installation in Unix, Windows, DOS or
Mac is right; then adding all the little details on setting up the
Perl environ - using an editor, making CGI scripts work, etc. The
first 30 pages will have users working more confidently in whatever
mode Perl brings them to.
Steve then proceeds to show how the core syntax and constructs
from packages and modules to objects and formats can be used in
practical applications. CGI is covered with topics on browser cookies
and mail connections to the coding of a multi-user chat session.
The practicality of objects are shown as well - including use in
creating records/structures for database and advanced forms. This
is a wonderful resource to have by with your Slick or Codewright
editor while doing Perl.
||Core Pearl by Reuven Lerner is a good blend between a reference
manual and users guide. The book start out with over 50 pages of
started text including install, syntax and working with Perl on a
variety of platforms. This is ensuring because one of Perl's attractions
is the diversity of uses - batch processing, text manipulation, simple
database connectivity and of course web cgi application. Reuven
spends a third of the book's 500 pages carefully building out Perl's
syntax in the context of ever more varied uses. The next third of
the book is devoted to database concepts in the Perl context including
approaches to web database applications. The last third of the book
of the book concentrates on web applications including ever more
sophisticated CGI applications and a full chapter devoted to mod.perl
and the Apache web server connection. This is quite helpful to LAMP
- LinuxApacheMySQLPerl programmers who need that extra bit of control
of modules. Finally, Reuven has a great bibliography - I like writers
who are not afraid to reference other books and good material - with
good info also on magazines and websites chock full of supplementary
material. Core Pearl not only gets you up and running but understanding
Perl's full potential.