Sebastopol, CA--Traditionally, a wide gulf has separated computer users
from computer programmers. Users often see computers as a means to an
end, and learn only as much about them as they need to in order to
solve their immediate problem, while programmers tend to see mastery of
the computer as an end in itself. But the Web has blurred these
traditional distinctions, says John Callender, author of
Perl for Web
Site Management (O'Reilly, US $34.95). On the Web, it's easy for
someone who isn't a programmer to create useful collections of computer
based-information using Perl, the programming language of choice for
web content creators.
"The Web represents a breakthrough in the history of computers,"
Callender explains. "For the first time, large numbers of ordinary
people who haven't spent years learning to program can use computers to
communicate their own unique visions in powerful ways. Perl is the
perfect tool for web designers and developers who want to take that
creative process to the next level, building richer, more extensive,
more dynamic sites."
For many web designers, Perl may seem like an arcane, forbidding world
of strange terms and a never-ending series of odd punctuation
characters. However, as Callender demonstrates, while being a Perl
expert is hard, most Perl scripts are relatively simple.
Perl for Web
Site Management teaches web designers how to use Perl to perform
everyday tasks such as checking links, batch editing HTML files,
tracking users, and writing CGI scripts.
"I wrote this book for people like me," says Callender,
"non-programmers who nevertheless have been inspired by the
possibilities inherent in the Web, and who want to take their web
creations to the next level. Unfortunately, it has been hard for such
'accidental' programmers, as they are sometimes called, to get the help
they need. The Perl documentation and the best books about Perl have
historically been written for people who were already programmers."
"My book takes a different approach," Callender adds, "based on my
understanding of how accidental web programmers actually learn Perl: a
little at a time, in the course of solving progressively more
challenging, real-world problems."
Perl for Web Site
Management leads the reader through the
behind-the-scenes programming used to create and maintain large web
sites using Perl and other open source tools. Examples are accompanied
by in-depth explanations intended for an audience that is technically
adept, but not expert at programming. Along the way, there are pointers
to more detailed explanatory material, whether elsewhere in the book,
on the Web, or in other books. The overall approach is that of a
tutorial, progressing from simple concepts in the early chapters to
more complex problems later on.
As Callender explains to his readers, his book is not so much about
learning Perl as it is about getting things done with Perl. Whether
readers of this book are developers, designers, or simply dabblers on
the Web, Perl for Web Site Management is a practical, hands-on
introduction that makes it easy for "accidental" programmers to handle
complex, sophisticated web sites.
Perl for Web Site
By John Callender
ISBN 1-56592-647-1, 508 pages, $34.95, 508 pages, $34.95 (US)