Programming Perl, Fourth Edition
Tom Christiansen, Brian D. Foy and Larry Wall
with Jon Orwant
Programming Perl, Fourth Edition is written by Tom
Christiansen, Brian D. Foy & Larry Wall with Jon Orwant , and
published by O’Reilly Media, Inc., ©2012, ISBN 978-0-596-
00492-7, 1130pp., $54.99.
Programming Perl, Fourth Edition is the long awaited update
to the book that has become, arguably, the reference for the Perl
programming language. The third edition was released in 2000
with Perl version 5.6 as the point of reference. For the fourth
edition, the authors reference Perl version 5.14.
The authors kept the same basic framework of the third
edition but refined or re-wrote most of the content. Many of the
examples have been updated to reflect current state of the Perl
language. If you wish to follow along and try the examples for
yourself, you should install at least v5.14.
The book is broken up into five sections: Overview, The
Gory Details, Perl as a Technology, Perl as a Culture, and
Reference Material. The first impression I got after reading the
introduction and table of contents was that the authors refocused
the book around the core concepts of the Perl language.
This is a thick book both physically and in its contents. The
Perl language falls into the category of easy to get started but
difficult to master. The authors explain the concepts and
examples in thorough detail. The chapters I feel I got the most
out of where chapters related to the Object-Oriented aspects of
After reading chapters 8, 10, 11, and 12, I feel I have a very
good understanding on how Perl handles Object-Oriented
programming. The big take away for me with these chapters is
how Perl’s inheritance model has been cleaned-up and
inheritance is through method only in Perl (data can be inherited
but you need to do this through methods, it takes some getting
The book has detailed table of contents, extensive index and
helpful glossary. If you are starting out and looking for a
reference for Perl, this is the book you want. But if you are
looking for a bunch of how-to’s to get started with Perl then one
of the other O’Reilly books on Perl is probably a better first
choice. As you continue using Perl and want to enrich your
knowledge of the language or develop a stronger understanding
of why things are the way they are then this is the Perl language
reference for you.
A language like Perl changes a lot of a 12 year period and I
am very happy with the release of this new edition of
Programming Perl. A book has value if you are able to learn
something from reading it. A reference book has value if you
can continue to go back to it and find new things to learn.
Programming Perl, Fourth Edition will show that it is a reference
book of great value for years to come.
Reviewed by Scott Froberg, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes Page 40 July 2012 Volume 37 Number 4