Reviewed by: Mark Fowler
A few months back I decided to go home and visit my folks back in my home town for a week or so. So I packed my bags, threw in my laptop (with the firm intention of doing some serious perl coding) and set off. All in all the week was nice. But I hardly got any work done. Why? No reference books!
In my haste to get home (and not die carrying heavy chunks of dead tree around with me) I'd neglected to take my favorite selection of O'Reilly books with me. And without them it suddenly took me an hour to do what with the help of the Camel book and the Cookbook would have taken me five minutes. Alas, all was lost...
What can I say? I'm lazy (which, remember, is a good thing.) I don't remember everything...I normally just look it up. So, shortly after I got back from the holiday I was delighted to be able get my hands on a copy of the second edition of the Perl CD Bookshelf, and watch my problems vanish. I highly recommend you purchase yourself a copy even, if like me, you already have the books in hardcopy.
This electronic selection has a copy of the books that I rely on: Programming Perl (3rd edition), Advanced Perl Programming (useful for the typeglob section and panicking about C) and the invaluable Perl Cookbook. It also comes with the entertaining and useful Perl in a Nutshell (marvelous reference for many modules) and Perl for System Administrators (great book, irreplaceable for SysAdmins).
I've been trying to think of a good way of saying this without sounding like I'm doing something illegal. Here goes: HTML is great, you can copy it and access it wherever you are! This means that I can carry around the whole Perl CD Bookshelf on my hard drive on my laptop (I have no CD drive) and access it on the train. It also means that I can access it on whatever computer I'm currently working on at the time via the wonders of networking. O'Reilly have taken a bold move releasing their books in digital form; Unquestionably one that has immeasurably increased the worth of the product to me.
The HTML conversion is also wonderfully done. The main section has links to all the books reviewed in the traditional chapter by chapter format as well as several indices and search facilities. The sudden ability to look at a global index file - spanning all five books - is a godsend, and I don't know how I ever managed searching though each index of each book when they were in paperback. Unfortunately, in contrast to this the search facility itself relies on Java which means that I am prevented from using it most of the time (Most browsers I use don't have a JVM installed.) Some you win, some you lose.
Overall the best aspect of the HTML conversion is the way that it is done so simply and cleanly. The pages render quickly and concentrate on the task they're trying to achieve: showing you the text. O'Reilly have done a wonderful job of ignoring any urge to place extraneous fluff into the interface.
If all this hasn't convinced you to get a copy yet, then let me try this. The price. The second edition of the CD bookshelf only costs 66.62ukp RRP. And you get a dead tree copy of Perl in a Nutshell with it.