This book is the third in a series containing collections of articles from The Perl Journal. Different chapters are written by different authors in slightly different styles. The editors have cunningly pulled together a diverse range of articles under the three headings in the title.
To begin with, I was a bit apprehensive about reviewing this book; I am no Perl guru, though I do occasionally use Perl to search or manipulate text files. I needn't have worried. A lot of the book requires little detailed knowledge of the Perl language. Moreover, a lot of the points that the authors make apply to programming in general.
To begin with, I made the mistake of trying to read the book sequentially, starting at the first chapter and working my way through to the last. That was a bad move. I soon realised that it was far more enjoyable to jump around randomly between chapters, as the mood took me. I was able to do this because the forty-eight chapters are largely independent of one another. Also, most chapters are quite short, falling well within the reading time available on my daily commute back and forth to work by train.
I suspect that no two people would agree on their ranking of chapters in this book. My own favourites were a delightful account of the Infocom z-machine, an intriguing description of how Perl was used on the Human Genome project and the somewhat bizarre collection of Perl one-liners. Chacun a son gout!
I don't think that I'd have bought this book before reading it, but I'd have been very happy to have received it as a present. In summary, it's a charming coffee table book for the computer literate reader with a little time on their hands!