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Book Release Announcement, 9/7/06

"Minimal Perl: for UNIX and Linux People"

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My book on Perl is now available. In fact, it's so available that you can even get two of its twelve chapters for free from the publisher's web site!

As detailed in the book's brochure (see, this book teaches Perl to UNIX/Linux people by capitalizing on their existing knowledge and skills. For example, the book discusses the "matching operator" as an enhancement to the grep/fgrep/egrep commands, and it presents Perl arrays by contrasting their syntax and features with Shell arrays.

What's more, the book covers a variety of important topics in greater detail than you'll find elsewhere, such as:

  • when you should use Perl commands for augmenting standard UNIX/Linux commands, rather than replacing them
  • how to use set -x to debug Shell commands launched via system
  • how to emulate in Perl the advanced features of the Shell's looping facilities
To make this book as useful as possible as a reference work, it's equipped with dozens of tables that describe Perl's essential features and that show their use in representative coding examples. Moreover, to help UNIX/Linux people understand how Perl relates to its UNIX forebears, the nearest relatives of Perl features found in the Shell (e.g., split vs. $IFS) and in the UNIX/Linux command set (e.g., Text::Autoformat vs. fmt; reverse vs. tac) are identified.

Another unique feature of this book is its use of amusing "case studies" to entertain you while you're learning the language. Here are some of the characters you'll encounter:

  • Patrick from soggy Seattle, a climatology data-wrangler who consoles himself by proving that Miami and New York are "rainier"
  • Felix and Oscar, who respectively exemplify the fastidious and quick-and-dirty styles of programming while contending for the same promotion
  • Ivan the stamp collector--who needs to compress images ranging from scowling dictators to Franco Zappato's tweezer collection--to fit within the storage allotted by his ISP
  • Diggity Dog, a rapper with a reputation for profanity to uphold, who "validates" his lyrics with Perl
  • The wily Bell Labs veteran, who wins a $200 bar-bet by writing a one- line Shell script that calculates the square root of pi.
Like other Perl programmers, I'm grateful for Larry's gift of Perl, so I'm happy to have been able to give something back to Perlity by making this contribution to the literature. However, I hasten to add that I'm indebted to many in the Perl community--including many members of SPUG--for their generous donations of time and effort to act as reviewers and proofreaders for this book.

To learn more about the book and to download the sample chapters, go to the publisher's Minimal Perl web site:

To download the book's brochure and free articles on other Perl topics, go to the author's Minimal Perl web site:

By the way, if you buy the Electronic-edition ($22.50; available now), you can upgrade to the paper version when it becomes available in mid-September by just paying the difference. If you exercise this option, you'll get the book in both digital and paper formats for the price of the paper version alone, which is pretty cool.

I hope you like my book!

Tim Maher, Consultix

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