by Rick Smith (July 23, 2001)
B O O K D
E T A I L S
Instant CGI/Perl is a massive book of over 1,000 pages that also includes scripts for about a dozen pre-written Perl applications. The book starts out by describing the history of these applications and how they started from a single BBS application, grew into the Selena Sol archives, which have now become the eXtropia site.
The first five chapters of Instant CGI/Perl cover:
Using the book effectively
Installing and configuring the included Perl applications
Changing the look and feel of these applications
Understanding how to control the workflow within the applications
The remaining few chapters in the first half of the book cover customizing the included applications and you can glean some information about the included applications. But unfortunately, these applications are described only incidentally, as part of the text. There is no single location in the book that describes all the applications that are included or how they look in their default configuration.
Because software packages for sale in computer stores extol their virtues, in great detail, using only their covers, I feel that a book titled Instant CGI/Perl could have provided similar information somewhere in over a thousand pages of text. Since you will probably buy this book for the applications and will want to get started right away, I have provided a brief, but complete, list on the next webpage to help resolve this problem in an otherwise excellent book.
Once you find the application you want, there is a vast amount of information that describes how the object-oriented Perl code works and how specific portions of the included ADK (Application Development Toolkit) relate to the included applications. The entire second half of the book provides excellent information about the architecture of the included applications and outlines the:
Principles of Perl
Object names used in the toolkit
Basic overview of the key Web and Perl concepts
This section provides a lot of information and is certainly not light reading. These applications are quite complete and certainly not trivial. This is unlike other Perl books that demonstrate Perl features with only short, prototypical applications that have little real-world capability. This section also describes a way to modify the included applications as well as creating your own advanced applications. I will be working with some of these applications in the near future and will report back to see how well they operate, along with how easy they are to install and modify.
It should be noted that this book works for all skill levels -- something that is rare in most Perl books. Here is how various people at different skill levels could use this book:
A novice could buy this book for a particular application; with some work, learn enough to successfully install and run that application. They could even learn to customize the application and would be quite happy.
A beginning to intermediate level Perl programmer could learn to make more complex changes to each of these programs and learn the fundamentals to large-scale development. I don't recommend this book for learning Perl from scratch -- that wasn't the intention of this book. (See some of our other book reviews and briefs for texts to learn Perl.)
An advanced Perl developer gets access to a massive, pre-existing toolkit that could be used for large scale projects with over 500 pages of documentation.
© 2001 Rick Smith All rights reserved.