REVIEW - Using Perl 5 for Web Programming (Special Edition)


Using Perl 5 for Web Programming (Special Edition)


David Harlan et al




Que ()




Rob Henley


June 1998



This book is intended to cover everything you need to set up a Web page and create CGI scripts in Perl. There are introductory sections on Perl and CGI, followed by increasingly sophisticated Web page examples. There are good sections on site administration and interaction with databases. The last 200 pages are devoted to a Perl reference. So far so good, the book is well written and covers everything you need to get you started. The examples are explained clearly and are available on the CD. So why do I have reservations about this book?

My main concern is that it shows signs of having been thrown together. The Perl introduction is a modified version of the one that appears in the Perl 5 Quick Reference (see above). This time it is credited to a different author and I'm glad to say that all the mistakes I spotted in the Quick Reference version have been corrected. The table of contents and index haven't been given much attention (e.g. 'libraries: see also libraries'). The Perl reference section is also from the Quick Reference book, but the formatting is consistently wrong throughout (there is quite a large graphic in the Quick Ref telling you which versions of Perl each command is compliant with. These have mysteriously disappeared; leaving a blank section for each command called Compliance. It's hard to believe this wasn't spotted before the print run went ahead!). The CD doesn't contain the promised source for Perl and isn't well organised. All the example code is thrown together into one directory and the names referred to in the book have been mangled into 8.3 format. I think it would have helped if the book was arranged around discrete examples. You have to pick the examples out of the narrative, which isn't ideal if you just want to get something working.

Having said all that, I still found the book readable and managed to get a couple of pages up and running quite quickly. The CD has HTML versions of other QUE books on CGI&HTML and these are useful since they aren't covered in any depth in the text. I think the Perl Reference section should have been left out and the price lowered correspondingly. The book may disappoint if you buy it to learn about Perl and CGI. On the other hand it may make be very useful to you if you are asked to get a Web page up and running quickly.

If you bought the book to learn Perl and were influenced by the promise source on the CD, take it back and demand a refund. It is falsely described and it is time publishers met their obligations. - Francis Glassbobow

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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