11.0486 perl

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 30 Dec 1997 22:44:38 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 486.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: David Pinaula <david.pinaula@mci2000.com> (42)
Subject: Re: 11.0481 perl and programming

[2] From: Fotis Jannidis <Fotis.Jannidis@lrz.uni- (55)
Subject: Re: 11.0481 perl and programming

Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 13:03:52 -0500
From: David Pinaula <david.pinaula@mci2000.com>
Subject: Re: 11.0481 perl and programming

At 02:32 PM 12/24/97 +0000, you wrote:
>On Fri, 19 Dec 1997, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>> you need to know is basic Perl - so get a basic book. I highly recommend
>> anything published by O'Reilly; if you are new to programming, get
>> _Learning Perl_.
>Having just been through the above work, I would hardly recommend it to
>anyone without a pretty good programming background already under one's
>belt. The whole is peppered with comments like:
> "and for those already familiar with C++, you'll be happy to know
> that also in Perl..."
>For those not already familiar with C++, the book is not particularly
>helpful. It is definitely not written with someone with a background in
>the humanities in mind. The introductory "Tour of Perl" is gratuitiously
>intense and overwhelming. This is a wonderful book if you feel like
>reading it over maybe fifteen times before you can make head or tail of
>I tried desparately to find a manual on Perl which was written is
>something approximating English and was none too successful. Hopefully
>others have had more luck.
>Leo Robert Klein
While having a copy of the O'Reilly book at least as a reference is a good
idea once you've learned PERL, I can see how non-programmers may find it a
little too code-intensive. David Till's _Teach Yourself PERL in 21 Days_
may prove readable enough for novices. The book is set up in a series of
lessons and self-tests aimed at building the fundamentals of how PERL
accomplishes tasks, leading to a pretty good understanding of the language
by the book's end. Then, buying the O'Reilly book can help make you a wiz.

David L. Pinaula
English Department
421 Greenlaw Hall, CB # 3520
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599 USA
Public Encryption Key at:

Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 11:30:27 +0000
From: Fotis Jannidis <Fotis.Jannidis@lrz.uni-muenchen.de>
Subject: Re: 11.0481 perl and programming

I started two years ago programming with Perl and had almost none
programming experience before. I used David Till: Teach Yourself Perl
5 in 21 Days. Sams 1996 as an introduction, because _Learning Perl_
is obviously not meant for the programming beginner and Till doesn't
assume any programming knowledge.
There is a lot to say in favour of Perl. It has no steep learning
curve and you can start to do real work after a few lessons. Even if
Perl is not as fast as C/C++, it is fast enough to handle even
very large chunks of data. The "quick-and-dirty" access to
programming in Perl comes very handy for a humanist, who doesn't want
to bother about memory management, pointer arithmetics or the types
of variables he/she uses. And another point worth mentioning: Perl is
available on most platforms and there is a huge library of free
modules and programs.
The drawbacks are: Perl doesn't enforce structured programming which
can easily lead to huge amounts of unmanageable "spaghetti-code". Its
object-oriented programming model is difficult to understand and
handle (at least for me and some others I talked to), but you don't
have to use it. Perl does not provide any tools to develop a
graphical interface (actually you can use Tk from Tcl, but only on
Unix). The modules are version dependent.
If you want to give a program to some non-programmer nowadays, I
found it very difficult to persuade them to use text oriented ones.
So I started working with Java for this kind of program. Its powerful
API provides one with most of the building blocks for a program.
Programming becomes more the glueing together of prefabricated
software blocks, which seems to me to be the best way for people like
us who have an area of knowledge to take care about next to
programming. But Java has a much steeper learning curve. For the
processing of text it is as far as I can see difficult to beat Perl.
Fotis Jannidis

I found Perl very useful.

Dr. Fotis Jannidis
Institut fuer Deutsche Philologie
LM Universitaet Muenchen, Germany
Schellingstr. 3 /RG * D-80799 Muenchen
Fx: -49-89-2180-3871

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