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Re: [MacPerl] Introduction


In reply to:

>I probably have every single book there could be on Perl, save the
>MacPerl book, (that will have to be the next purchase) but they are not
>written clearly and they assume an already working knowledge of
>programming and computer languages overall.

Suggestion #1: Do get "MacPerl, Power and Ease".

I learned Perl from Programming Perl (the first edition covering Perl4).

When I started, I had a fair bit of experience with Fortran, Pascal, Basic,
Z80 Assembly Language, and awk.  Nonetheless, I found it extremely
difficult to "get" Perl.  However, once I got it, I found it wonderfully
easy to use.  (This is perhaps the most extreme "AHA!" experience I ever
had.)  By the time I bought the MacPerl book, I was already comfortable
with Perl, so it is hard for me to evaluate it accurately, but my
impression is that it is perhaps the best book for Learning Perl (he says,
never having looked at "Learning Perl" or any of the other Perl tutorials).

>And when one is trying to
>solve problems, spending hours trying to find an answer on FAQs...
>I want to learn Perl
>desperately  to add to my
>skillset, and therefore be able to bill a higher fee.

Suggestion #2: Be Patient.  It may take some time to "get" Perl, but the
payoff is enormous.  If you get too goal oriented too quickly, you may get
frustrated.  Of course, the only way I can learn a computer language is to
use it, but it would help if your first programming tasks were small and
had no deadline.

>With one last try I am hoping this list is much friendlier

It is :-)

>I want to use the OO aspects of Perl5

Suggestion #3: Start small.  The three things that will make learning Perl
difficult are:

1) Perl has all kinds of cryptic shortcuts.  These are wonderful once you
know them as you can express a lot in a few lines of code, but can be
hopelessly confusing when you are learning.  We just had a discussion on
this list about the variable named (of all things) $_

Besides its short, bizarre name, the confusing thing about $_ it is that
there are a lot of places in Perl where if you don't use a variable, $_ is
used by default.  Such code can be Hell for the student!

In the beginning, avoid these shortcuts, but be warned they exist when you
look at example code.

2) There is a mountain - nay, a mountain range - nay, a CONTINENT of
software libraries for Perl (Perl modules).  This is wonderful, except that
it takes an already rather large language and makes it almost infinite.
Try to understand the core language, then pick up modules (some of which
can almost be languages into and of themselves) slowly at first.

3) Perl is not my favorite OO language.  To me, Perl is almost OO assembly
language.  Once you are into it, this can be sort of cool in that you
REALLY learn about objects under the hood, but it sure doesn't make it
easy.  This refers to WRITING objects.  USING objects is not too hard, if
you don't try to get fancy and you learn just a little syntax.

I use CGI.pm all the time, but I have to say it is not my favorite Perl
module.  It seems sometimes to make a fairly simple task complicated.  (The
reason I use it is that it nicely covers all the wierd cases and gotchas of
Web programming.)

Hope this helps a little.


David Steffen, Ph.D.
President, Biomedical Computing, Inc. <http://www.biomedcomp.com/>
Phone: (713) 610-9770 FAX: (713) 610-9769 E-mail: steffen@biomedcomp.com

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