REVIEW - Perl in a Nutshell - A Desktop Quick Reference


Perl in a Nutshell - A Desktop Quick Reference


Ellen Siever, Stephen Spainhour, Nate Patwardhan




O'Reilly (1999)




Al Lines


April 2000



O'Reilly's desktop guides are designed to be a smallish reference guide to all the essentials you need, without having the complete manuals. Does this work for Perl, where there are already a number of superb (O'Reilly) reference books, such as the Larry Wall "Camel" book?

After dispensing with the quick installation guide, the meat of the book comes into its own. This starts with the basics of the language covering keyword by keyword. Each of these have a short description along with (where appropriate) the arguments needed to use them. With space being limited, there are no code examples included.

Next the debugger gets a section all to itself. Very handy to have in one place, as Perl can be a little terse sometimes! Most of the remainder of the book is then left to the key modules that Perl can utilise, such as IO, Text etc. The only area that at first glance seems to be omitted is the parsing and creation of web pages - one of the main usage's of Perl. It is however present, under the title of 'Network Coding' - not quite as obvious.

This reference on its own is insufficient for those who want to use Perl seriouslyt. For that you will still require a text like the Camel book or the Perl cookbook. However, if you only want one book asking for desk space, then this is worth a look.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.