Book Review: Perl Best Practices

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We all have done it, haven't we? We've looked at source code--either our own or someone else's--and asked that age-old programming question: "What is this code doing?". When code is written in Perl, the aforementioned question probably is uttered more than it needs to be, as Perl--the ever-popular duct tape of the Internet--often is used to produce code that is hard to understand. This problem is exasperated by the Perl community's near obsession with letting programmers work in whatever way suits them. Although the Perl motto, "There's more than one way to do it", often can be a strength, it also can work against large projects and team efforts. This may be especially true if every team member's code is a law-unto-itself when it comes to style, coding standards, layout and idioms used. Typically, if this is the case, you end up with a Perl code base that is unmaintainable.

In tackling this problem head-on, Damian Conway is nothing if not brave. In his latest book, Perl Best Practices, Damian attacks subjects that should be close to the heart of every Perl programmer: coding standards, styles and development practices and behaviors. In 500 pages or so, Conway presents what he believes to be a consistent set of standards and styles for developing maintainable code when using Perl. Almost magically, there are 256 of these guidelines in the book, offering help to Perl programmers of every ability.

Conway's bravery comes from his decision to highlight the problems that programmers can get themselves into when programming in Perl.

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