I noticed that the O’Reilly stand at Opentech on Saturday had a few new Perl books. I think that a couple of these books are particularly important.
Over the last few years I’ve heard a lot of people saying that Perl isn’t suitable for large scale programming projects as it doesn’t constrain programmers in the same way as languages like C++ or Java. I don’t, of course, agree with this but it seems to be a popular opinion. It’s therefore good to see a couple of books that are firmly aimed at dispelling this belief.
Perl Best Practices by Damian Conway does exactly what the title suggests. It presents over 250 guidelines that will help you write “better” Perl code – where “better” means more readable, more reuseable and easier to maintain. If you’re a manager trying to cope with a multitude of coding styles from different Perl programmers, then buy them all a copy of this book and call it the departmental coding standards. If you’re a programmer whose manager is telling you that your department is moving to Java because Perl code is so hard to maintain, then lend him your copy of this book to persuade him that Perl code can be just as robust as Java.
Whilst Perl Best Practices will probably get most of the publicity, I actually think that Perl Testing: A Developer’s Notebook (Ian Langworth and chromatic) is just as important. Testing is a very hot topic in software development right now and the Perl community has built up a testing framework that is second to none. This book is a pragmatic guide to getting the most out of that framework.
Between them, these two books should go a long way towards countering any arguments about Perl not being an appropriate language for writing enterprise applications.
And that, as far as I’m concerned, has to be a good thing.