After a gap of twelve years, a new edition of Programming Perl (affectionately known as “the Camel book” to its many fans) was published earlier this year. That came as quite a surprise to many people who had given up on seeing a new edition. What has changed in the new edition? Does the book now cover Modern Perl? The answer depends on what you mean by the term “Modern Perl”.
Back in 2007 the London Perl Mongers ran a free one-day Perl training course at the BBC’s offices in White City. That was five years ago, so for a couple of months I’ve been thinking that it was probably about time that we did another one.
And then suddenly this afternoon a few loose ends came together and all of a sudden it’s been organised.
The course will be on Saturday 4th August at Google Campus in London. It will run from 9am to 5pm. As last time, it will be completely free to attendees.
Last time the course was aimed at intermediate Perl programmers and introduced them to advanced Perl techniques. This time I’m aiming at the opposite of the spectrum. The course is called “Modern Perl for Non-Perl Programmers”. It’s aimed at people who are comfortable programming in languages other than Perl and who are interested in getting up to speed in Perl as quickly as possible.
Obviously most of the readers of this blog won’t be in the target audience for the course, but I’m betting that you all know at least one person who might be interested in the course. So it would be great if you could send the link to the registration page to anyone who you think would find the course useful.
Those lovely people at O’Reilly have put an advert for the courses in the new issue of Linux Format which hits the shops about now. That’s issue 154 and the advert is on page 54. The advert contains details of a competition where two people can win free places on the two courses – one person on each course.
Google Reader just showed me Mithaldu’s blog post about the falling level of Google searches for the term “perl tutorial“. The fall is, of course, more than a little worrying and we should do what we can to get more people searching for Perl. But I wondered what results Google is currently returning for this search. It’s not a pretty sight.
The first two results are for Nik Silver’s Perl tutorial from about twenty years ago. I know Nik and I know that he would be horrified to think that people were trying to learn Perl from this site. Nik has been responsible and left a clear notice at the top of the page stating how out of date it is and I understand him wanting to leave the page there for historical interest. But I still see questions on places like Stack Overflow from people who are obviously using this tutorial.
The next link is to a site at perltutorial.org. That sounds encouraging, but it’s a rather pedestrian affair teaching dated and simplistic Perl and written by someone whose first language clearly isn’t English.
The next result is to tiztag.com. It’s about as good as you’d expect from a site that insists on calling the language “PERL”.
Next, we finally get to something worth using. It’s a link to the free online version of Simon Cozens’ book Beginning Perl. That’s good – but it’s still a little dated.
Next we get to Robert’s Perl Tutorial. Which proudly boasts it was last updated on 20th April 1999. That’ll be up to date then.
The next result is BradleyKuhn’s book Picking Up Perl. This was an attempt to produce an open source Perl tutorial book. It was a worthwhile project, but it was last updated in 2002.
The next result is one that finally links to perl.com. It’s an article by Doug Sheppard called Beginner’s Introduction to Perl. I bet it was great when it was first published in October 2000.
Towards the bottom of the list there are two links to Gabor’s recent (current?) Perl tutorial series. These are probably the only links on the list that we should be sharing with people wanting to learn Perl.
Finally, there’s the NCSA Perl Tutorial. At least this page has realised that it is out of date and has closed down. Unfortunately the alternative sites that it suggests are of variable quality.
So there it is. The first page of results is of rather variable quality. There’s some great stuff there, some good but dated stuff and some dreadful stuff. But I’m sure there are better Perl tutorials out there. It would be great if the first link returned by Google was to learn.perl.org. But what other sites should be on the list? What good Perl tutorial resources do you know of?
Have I just given all those dreadful sites a healthy boost of Googlejuice by linking to them?
Often on sites like StackOverflow you’ll see questions that people could have answered for themselves if they had just searched the right web sites (usually perldoc or CPAN). But instead, they just went straight for Google and ended up with some dodgy, out of date information that just left them confused.
In order to get round that, I’ve created a Google Custom Search Engine which searches known Perl web sites. You can try it out here.
If you want to use this search engine on your site, the code is below.
Earlier this year I met Josette Garcia at OpenTech and she told me about her new blog Josetteorama. She asked me if I’d like to contribute a few articles about Perl to the site. I agreed and then promptly forgot about it for a couple of months.
But I remembered my promise a week or so ago and realised that this would be a great opportunity to promote YAPC::Europe outside of the Perl community.
So I wrote an article called YAPC::Europe Preview. And she published it today. Hope you find it interesting.
No-one showed any interest so the domains will go away over the next few months.
But in order to hang on to the content, I spend a couple of hours last night moving some stuff around.
The stuff from perlvogue.com is now at perlhacks.com/perlvogue and the old proudtouseperl.com content is now at proud.perlhacks.com. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll find some people to resurrect Proud to Use Perl at some point in the future.
I’ve also set up redirections from the old addresses to the new ones – so hopefully Google will work out what has happened before the domains vanish off the web.
The perlfive.com and perlfive.org domains weren’t being used for anything, so I’m just going to let them die quietly.
I’ve never let so many domains expire before. I feel I’m growing as a person.
There has been a flurry of Perl 5 releases over the last few days and there’s some evidence that this has confused a few people. So let’s take a closer look at what is available.
This is the most advanced stable version of Perl 5 currently available. It was released on 17th June. If you’re looking for the best version of Perl to use then this is the one to go for unless you have a good reason to choose one of the other versions mentioned below.
I’ve heard people mention the “stable Perl versions have an even number” rule as a possible reason not to use this version. They are wrong. That rule only applies to the middle integer in the Perl version number. Perl 5.10, 5.12 and 5.14 are stable versions. Perl 5.11, 5.13 and 5.15 are not. 5.14.1 is 5.14.0 with bug fixes. It is stable.
This version was released on 20th June. Due to a bug in CPAN, it currently shows as the most recent stable version of Perl. Well, maybe it’s not a bug as, strictly speaking, it is the most recent stable version of Perl. This version is a maintenance release on the 5.12.x branch. It fixes some bugs in version 5.12.3. Version 5.14.x is (obviously, I hope) a more advanced branch than 5.12.x. This release is intended for people who are tied to the 5.12.x branch for some reason. They get some bugs fixes but don’t have to switch to a whole new major version of Perl 5. Unless you’re tied to 5.12.x, you don’t need this version.
This version was released today (on 21st June). It is the first release in the 5.15.x development branch. This is the branch that will (in ten months or so) become Perl 5.16. The “stable Perl versions have an even number” rule applies to this version as the middle integer is 15. That’s an odd number. This is an unstable release.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use this release. It has been released for a very good reason. The Perl 5 Porters would very much like you to download and try out this new version of Perl and report back to them with any problems that you see. But you shouldn’t consider putting it into production.
I hope that clear things up. If you’re wary of leaping to 5.14.x for some reason, then use 5.12.4. If you want a sneak preview of how Perl might look this time next year, then use 5.15.0. But most of you should be installing 5.14.1.
Summer is YAPC time. And YAPC means getting inspired on Perl-related projects. And that, obviously, means buying domain names for those projects. And that, inevitably, leads to lots of email from domain registries at about this time of year which roughly translate to “are you ever going to do anything useful with that domain you bought a couple of years ago, or should you just face facts and let it go?”
This year’s batch brings memories of projects from the last three years.
In Copenhagen in 2008 I gave a talk called Proud to Use Perl. To back it up I started a blog where I planned to share things that made me proud to use Perl. It didn’t last long. Even when I brought a team to help me, no-one had the time and nothing has been written there for two years. An advocacy site like that does more harm than good unless it it kept updated. So unless someone wants to take over the site (and keep it up to date) I’m going to let the domain lapse.
Lisbon in 2009 seemed to be largely about getting the Perl marketing project up and running. It was the scene of the famous Perl Marketing BOF. One of the ideas that came out of it was that Perl needed better web sites. I registered perlfive.com and perlfive.org in order to… well… I’m not really sure what they were for. Currently they both just redirect to perl.org. Do you have a better use for them?
And then last year in Pisa we had Perl Vogue. I was learning by that point and only registered the domain for a year. I’d really love for the Perl Vogue idea to really take off, but I’m not going to be the one to do it. If you want to try, then let me know.
Most of these domains expire some time in July. If you have ideas of what we can do with them then please get in touch. But, be aware that any suggestions that start “couldn’t you just…” are likely to be ignored. I’m looking for suggestions that start “I’d like too…”.