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O'Reilly

November 28, 2001

Perl for Web Designers and Other Non-Programmers
New O'Reilly Book Shows How to use Perl for Everyday Tasks

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.

Online Resources:

Perl for Web Site Management
By John Callender
November 2001
ISBN 1-56592-647-1, 508 pages, $34.95, 508 pages, $34.95 (US)
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938

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