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scrottie (4167)


My email address is Spam me harder! *moan*

Journal of scrottie (4167)

Thursday June 16, 2005
08:04 PM

How I Learned Perl for #perlhelp guests

[ #25245 ]
Visitors to EFNET IRC #perlhelp ( are generally told to go read, and they generally resent that. Okay. You don't want to read a book, even if it's free. Or else the material didn't stick, or else it doesn't suit how they learn, or else they're eager to get started on their programming project and need a reference rather than a tutorial. This is how I learned Perl. You can follow this procedure exactly, or you can extrapolate from it, but regardless, you need a system. If you make a concious effort, things will go much more smoothly and quickly than bumbling along. Also, if you don't find a system and you depend on people in the channel for all knowledge, you'll accumulate the necessary knowledge very slowly for the simple reason that idle IRCers at work are not the fastest quick reference.

Here's what I did. I read perldoc perlintro. I took notes, and I edited and maintained them as a cheat sheet for the bits I couldn't keep in my head but often needed. I also kept a list of things I didn't understand. (I discovered the fantastic usefulness of perldoc perltoc but not until much later -- it's a summary of the included documentation and core modules.) I read the perldoc perlfunc and perldoc perlop pages and took on conical usage of things that seemed important. I read through perldoc perlfaq, perldoc perlfaq1, etc and learned lessons by example and at the same time got a feel for the kinds of questions answered in there. In good time, I got a feel for what kinds of things were operators, what were functions, what I had to go to the FAQ for, and which I had to go to the core modules for. Discovering CPAN and accepting it into my heart was the final major leg of my journey through Perl novicehood.


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  • That's pretty much what I did. I did have access to the pink Camel book in the early days, and it was a great help. But real mastery didn't start until I made a habit of reading through one page of perldoc documentation (in perltoc order) every day right after lunch.

    Then I plugged into the community, and the rest is history.

    At some point in time, I wrote a little brain download called "The Path to Perl Mastery" for coworkers, which I've sent around a time or two. Maybe I should post it.

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers