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Archive for August, 2009

Perl Books

Posted by brunorc on August 31, 2009

I am very happy, because I was contacted by someone who got interested in Catalyst and Perl. Luckily, this guy is quite smart, as he’s already reading Learning Perl – it’s always better to start with a good book, rather than rely only on suspicious blogs. The other book I’d say it’s worthy to read is the Intermediate Perl. In fact, O’Reilly did a lot of good job in terms of publishing useful books about Perl. And no, unfortunately they don’t pay me for advertising them; even worse, I had to pay for the ones I owe, but I don’t regret the money I spent on them.

I remember the big discussion about publishing the book about Catalyst. O’Reilly turned it down, as it was surfing high on the whole Ruby on Rails wave. One of their argument was that – at this time – Catalyst was still in flux, so its API may had been undergoing some significant changes during the publishing process. Anyway, The First Catalyst Book got prepared and released by other publisher. Maybe I’m not the best informed person, but I think that the API of Catalyst is now quite stable – but The Second Catalyst Book is published by Apress. And that’s not the only book about Perl that will be published by them, since they’re going to refresh the book for beginners, as well as prepare something for absolute beginners!

At the same time, O’Reilly on its Perl page puts the photo of Damian Conway, with the title above: Stay competitive. We can help. Let’s see: I clicked on the perl in their tag cloud and faced the page with some links to the blog posts; one from July 23, and then February, January… competitive, huh?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that O’Reilly may be no longer interested in investing their effort into Perl books (apart from that put in those already published, which must have been huge, and I appreciate it), while preferring Erlang or Haskell. That’s OK, as those languages are interesting and O’Reilly tries to give them some spin, using some part of the income generated by the iPhone hype or other trendy topics. But then it’s the Enlightened Perl Organisation, which runs the Ironman Challenge. There’s Apress, publishing new titles. Perl already has some spin and if O’Reilly backed out for some reason, the niche created by this move has been already filled.

Update: There are also free books about Perl – maybe not the freshest ones, but still may be useful.

Posted in Perl | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

What’s so exciting in Perl 6 – fighting bugs

Posted by brunorc on August 23, 2009

Undoubtedly, Perl 6 will bring many new exciting features, and we – Perl 5 users – are really eager to try them out. But what about the beginners or people who just started their Perl adventure?

Well, they’ll also profit, since Perl 6 programs will be much more easier to debug. During his keynote on YAPC::EU 2009 Larry Wall talked about different ways of comunicating errors to the user. But he also announced that Perl 6 won’t only go to great lengths to make the diagnostics of the error easier – it will also give the comprehensive suggestions regarding the fix. Because no matter how strong typing has the language, no matter how straightforward is its syntax and object model, users of this language will tend to make errors. Sure, Ken Thompson is right, but surprisingly, every user starts learning the new language as inexperienced. Once they get experienced, they will understand even the most cryptic messages, but they may never get if the learning curve is too steep (anyone who tried Lisp or Haskell and failed?).

Being a developer means writing software and debugging it. The easier is the debugging, the more time we have to write more software. The more software we write, the more we learn and more experienced we get. But even the experience won’t save us from omitting the parenthesis or bracket, and there are times, when such kind of mistake effects in weird, indirect error message. Larry showed us some examples of Perl 6 signalizing bugs and what was really impressive, was the emphasis on explaining those aspects of Perl that will change during the transition from version 5 to 6. Another thing was some kind of perspective shift – in the phrase parser analyses code written by human Perl 6 is closer to the human part.

And since every single Perl programmer is a human, we will all profit.

Posted in Perl 6 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

When Perl 5.11 will be available?

Posted by brunorc on August 21, 2009

Well, it’s also up to you.

There were many community-oriented topics on YAPC::EU 2009, especially during the lightning talk sessions. At some point Jesse Vincent, The Man With Purple Hair entered the scene and shared the thrilling message with the audience: You can help releasing Perl 5.11 with even more important addition and you don’t have to hack on any code. What is needed, is to sort commits into appropriate categories – mostly it can be done based on the commit message.

This essentially means that everyone can try. Just go to the Perl 5.11 Changelogger and start being a rockstar. You may also see what are all those people doing, you may get familiar with the new features – but you can also get into the Top Ten. Or Top Eleven, in that case.

Just take a look at the legend, to know the what-is-what. Tags have hotkeys, so it’s quite easy to use the page. In return, you’ll get your shiny Perl 5.11 sooner. With a pony!

Posted in Perl | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »