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merlyn (47)

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Journal of merlyn (47)

Saturday June 16, 2007
11:32 PM

Foreword from "Mastering Perl"

[ #33537 ]
I wrote this for the upcoming Mastering Perl book, but I figured it was worth reprinting it here. Enjoy.

One of the problems we face at Stonehenge as professional trainers is to make sure that we write materials that are reusable in more than one presentation. The development expense of a given set of lecture notes requires us to consider that we'll need roughly two to four hundred people who are all starting in roughly the same place, and who want to end up in the same place, and who we can find in a billable situation.

With our flagship product, the Learning Perl course, the selection of topics was easy: Pick all the things that nearly everyone will need to know to write single-file scripts across the broad range of applications suited for Perl, and that we can teach in the first week of classroom exposure.

When choosing the topics for Intermediate Perl, we faced a slightly more difficult challenge, because the "obvious" path is far less obvious. We concluded that in the second classroom week of exposure to Perl, people will want to know what it takes to write complex data structures and objects, and work in groups (modules, testing, and distributions). Again, we seemed to have hit the nail on the head, as the course and book are very popular as well.

Fresh after having updated our Learning Perl and Intermediate Perl books, brian d foy realized that there was still more to say about Perl just beyond the reach of these two tutorials, although not necessarily an "all things for all people" approach.

In Mastering Perl, brian has captured a number of interesting topics and written them down with lots of examples, all in fairly independently organized chapters. You may not find everything relevant to your particular coding, but this book can be picked up and set back down again as you find time and motivation -- a luxury that we can't afford in a classroom. While you won't have the benefit of our careful in-person elaborations and interactions, brian does a great job of making the topics approachable and complete.

And oddly enough, even though I've been programming Perl for almost two decades, I learned a thing or two going through this book, so brian has really done his homework. I hope you find the book as enjoyable to read as I have.

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  • The last paragraph sells the book well. We are great teachers, but the book even has advantages over our teaching. Those advantages are what you may even see as a criticism of the book: not all of it you see as something you need to learn. This's not a bug, it's a feature: You can pick it up and put it down as time and inclination moves you.

    The general issue of the differences between teaching yourself through a book and having a teacher teach you are interesting. It's hard to beat the motivating influence