Book review: Learning Perl <i>by Randal L Schwartz, Tom Phoenix, and brian d foy</i>

The book Learning Perl will teach the reader how to begin writing code using the Perl language. The authors are not new to this subject matter. Randal L. Schwartz wrote Programming Perl with Larry Wall in 1991. Larry Wall being the father of Perl. Tom Phoenix has worked for years as a lead trainer on this subject; brian d foy is referred to as a fellow instructor and the lead writer for this fourth edition of the book. It would be hard to find a more qualified group to learn from. O’Reilly publishes this work in their familiar style and format. This book is commonly referred to as the Llama book.

The book’s cover

Learning Perl is an excellent book for someone who needs to get something done. The book takes you from zero to 60 at a proper pace. The authors have very realistic expectations for the reader. This is based on the authors’ extensive training experience. They suggest that you could spend 30-45 hours learning the material presented.

The contents

The book is a perfect size to work through at only 283 pages. Large enough to cover its subject, small enough to tackle on your own. The book is written as a textbook with exercises at the end of each chapter. The answers are provided for reference in the back. The book covers programming topics such as data types, subroutines and file handling. But most interesting are the chapters on regular expressions. If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, or specific patterns in large volumes of data, you will find help here.

Who’s this book for?

This book is for someone who needs more capability than the shell scripts offer. If you are repeating common tasks, responsible for finding bits and pieces of data scattered about your system, or just trying to find out what Perl is all about—this book is the place to start.

Relevance to free software

A quote from the preface of the book reads, “Perl lives as the ‘toolbox for Unix’”. My initial work with this book was with GNU/Linux and I did not have any problems using the Unix examples. The authors state that the book applies to most modern Windows implementations as well. If you are a proponent of free software, trapped working on another platform, using Perl will set you up for a smooth transition down the road. Perl is wonderfully portable among GNU/Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

“Perl lives as the ‘toolbox for Unix’”


When you require the functionality of Perl, you should start off with the best foundation possible. This book is the best place to start. Since the book is now in its forth edition, you can be assured that any early problems were worked out long ago. The authors of this edition are individuals who have done well as professional Perl instructors. Their presentation and style reflects those years of experience.


This is not the last Perl book you will buy. Keep in mind this is Learning Perl, not Mastering Every Last Function and Feature of Perl. That said, if you are new to Perl this is still the place to start.

Title Learning Perl
Author Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix & brian d foy
Publisher O’Reilly
ISBN 0596101058
Year 2005
Pages 283
CD included No
FS Oriented 9
Over all score 9

In short


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