Book Reviews

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Perl Books

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Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C
Title:Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C
Author(s):Lincoln Stein & Doug MacEarchern
Publisher:O'Reilly Media
Reviewer:Steve Pitchford

The first thing that strikes you about this book is the size. At over seven hundred pages you know that it is going to be quite some read.

The book is aimed at the intermediate Perl programmer. Unless you have mastered the art of Perl's OO syntax, and can competently knock out CGI scripts with use strict and -w set, don't consider coming near it.

A little bit of knowledge of the Apache web server will also be an advantage, but seeing as it is readily available for download, then there really can be no excuses for not having a version installed on your machine.

This book predominantly deals with Perl, or mod_perl to be more specific. As a Perl programmer I found this to be a huge benefit, as I was hesitant of the prospect of having to develop in C. The Authors make no secret of this fact, and do point out that there are likely to be more Perl web developers than there 'C' counterparts.

The book takes an example led approach to presenting the material as opposed to the reference based nature of the camel book. I have always been a fan of more referenced based books on computer programming, but this book goes a long way towards changing my mind.

The examples are of a perfect size to deal with in one sitting, explaining concepts at what I felt is an ideal level for the intermediate. Beginning with the now traditional 'Hello World' script, the book takes the reader on a journey through the mod_perl interface, using examples such as a server side include module, and image manipulation early on in the book.

By keeping examples short and relevant to the subject matter of the book, the authors have managed to both educate, and create a reference which I have returned to again and again. It is hard to find criticism with this book. The only improvement I feel could have been made is producing the material in pill form, so that it could be swallowed, and the information could seep into the brain whilst the 'reader' was asleep.

So, in short, I have no hesitation what-so-ever in recommending this book to any Perl programmer who desires to develop their skills from CGI programming into the world of mod_perl.