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chromatic (983)

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Friday January 16, 2009
03:10 PM

Modern Perl

[ #38303 ]

O'Reilly haven't announced "Perl: The Good Parts", but it's a book that's crying out to be written....

Piers Cawley, Healthcheck: Perl

O'Reilly's not going to do that book, but Piers is right -- it's a book that needs writing. I've used Perl for over a decade. I've asked and answered questions on Perl Monks since its inception (as the second user to register for the site). I know a little bit about project management, a little bit about testing, and a little bit about working on projects in a team composed of developers with divergent skills and interests -- even some about mentoring.

I also know a little bit about writing, editing, and publishing books.

I'm looking for feedback on the idea now. Would you be interested in buying, reading, promoting, reviewing and offering feedback on, and/or handing out a book called "Modern Perl" which teaches the language and the principles behind the language so that you can take advantage of the good parts, ignore the bad parts, and ameliorate the awful parts? Would you read or comment on a similarly themed weblog in conjunction with the book?

Of course it will cover some of the best modern CPAN modules.

If you're interested, please feel free to reply here, to my email (chromatic at wgz dot org), or even @chromatic on

Update: dmp2k suggested that the name "Modern Perl" is better than "Maintainable Perl". I agree. Do you?

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  • I've been using perl for 10ish years and I would buy, read, and flog this book on my friends. I would read, comment, and try not to troll the associated weblog.
  • How do you picture this being different from Perl Best Practices?

    • PBP isn't primarily a didactic book. If you don't know Perl, I'm not sure you'll learn it from reading the book. It's a great book, and there's definitely some overlap, but I have in mind something like a very streamlined version of the Camel that's deliberately non-exhaustive. I feel free to say "Here is how to think about a useful feature in such a way that you can remember it and use it productively... and here's a feature you can safely ignore and avoid, because it doesn't work right or it's just too

      • Ah, sounds more tutorial than reference. Good idea. I think that would be useful to me and to others.

        As far as a companion blog goes, that sounds useful, too. I've often thought that a site that shows how one could improve perl found in the wild would be interesting. I'm picturing something like MJD's red flag talks, crossed with, and a little bit of best practices or code review thrown in I guess. This sounds vaguely related. I think you would be good at it.

  • Sounds interesting. But if you see it as a streamlined Camel book, then I would suggest complimenting it with a Modern Perl Cookbook (i.e. a task-focused guide).

    I'd be willing to find a way to contribute to either.

    -- dagolden

    • That's a lovely follow-on idea, though it will need a different name to avoid a trademark scuffle.

      • "Modern Perl" is definitely a better title.

        Other possible title alternatives...

        * "The Perl Way" (ala"The Ruby Way" ;-)
        * "use Perl"
        * "using Perl"
        * "Enlightened Perl"

        I'm kinda liking the last one myself as it nicely associates itself with EPO efforts (

      • Well, if O'Reilly is the publisher, they might go for it -- I could see making a case for how it leverages the brand and recognition of the original Perl Cookbook and that would improve sales.

        Another idea is to just have "Modern Perl" be in two parts. Part I is the language and Part II is a task-focused cookbook. It would make it a pretty hefty tome, though.

        -- dagolden

  • The only weakness I can see is "modern" becomes "classic" in a short IT time span. I don't have a better title though.

    • Hows about "Hypermodern Perl" then? (the chess enthusiasts out there may appreciate this meaning!).

  • I would buy the book because I support the community but it would end up sitting on my shelf collecting dust and be eventually given away.

    I have done the same with 15-20 other such perl books. I have probably only ever opened 4 or 5 of them and haven't read more than half of any one of them.

    That's just me and has nothing to do with the quality of the book or author.

    I would would participate in a weblog.

    I would prefer to collaborate with you (or anyone else with time) on the book I have been meaning to writ

  • Our friend Daisuke Maki [] just wrote the book titled Modern Perl [] and it will be out in mid February 2009.

  • Modern Perl is a good concept, but antique Perl style also needs explanation. Only very few programmers never have to maintain the old stuff.

    A while ago I started a wiki page for this, [] but I never got around to finishing that.

    Also, while old stays old, the definition of "modern" is constantly changing. It'd be a bold move, especially in print, but I think this book needs a timestamp ("Modern Perl 2009") in the title, and constant (biennial?) review.

  • When we first started teaching Perl there was the temptation to show off all the things Perl could do. So we showed off $" and $,. That lasted for about 3 courses. Then we decided that the students really should learn to use join instead.

    Our course notes [] deliberately avoid mentioning as many of the bad-old ways as possible, although we still start the file chapter with ugly, old-style file handles because they are so overwhelmingly prevalent (see the first few actual examples in perldoc -f open and pe

  • This would leave us some space for later updates: Romantic Perl, Modern Perl, PostModern Perl.
    • A second thought - Renaissance would also be a good name.
      • I like the names, but worry that they're a little too cute and non-obvious for the intended audience. I'd like to expand all of the knowledge about how to take advantage of Perl features added in the 21st century to a wider pool than the upper 15% of PerlMonks and most posters on

        That said, there may be ways to pull these ideas into a unifying concept -- though likely in tagline or design rather than title.

  • Is this really an introduction to a language (Perl 5) that will surely have a declining adoption rate by the time the book is published? Or is it instead intended for current Perl 5 users who wish to learn not with outdated patterns, syntax elements, and libraries, but with a fresh look at the best Perl 5 has to offer? The latter is certainly more likely, and more likely to inform the Perl 6 user-to-be. A book with this angle is better titled "Postmodern Perl", as the approach is in reaction to classic, or

  • I think a book like that is a good idea. I'd be more than willing to contribute to its writing process. As for buying it - I'm not sure yet, but I'm leaning towards a yes - given price and other constraints. Did I mention it should be made available online? []

    In any case, I think this book is a good idea. One thing I noticed is that I advertised many books that I read and still have, but no longer read often on the local open-source mailing lists, and hardly anyone wanted to borrow them. I also tried to bor