SPUG: Perl Medic "Transforming Legacy Code" by Peter Scott -- book review

Michael R. Wolf MichaelRWolf at att.net
Tue Jul 20 16:47:15 CDT 2004

Perl Medic "Transforming Legacy Code"
by Peter Scott
Addison Wesley
ISBN: 0-201-79526-4


It's a great book! I started it last night, couldn't put it down until
2:30, then finished it today. That's saying a lot, especially since
I'm in the middle of Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon"!!!

It's a great book. It's a great reference. It's a great resource.

Get a copy!!!

The subtitle "Transforming Legacy code" doesn't do it complete
justice. It should be something like "State of the art/practice Perl
programming, thinking in Perl, defensive programming, refactoring,
testing, phasing

I'd consider myself a "Level 9.x" Perl programmer, having used it
since about '96 (the Perl4 days), and having taught Perl courses for
almost as long. Even so, I learned a lot about the language from this
book just by reading between the lines and studying some of the
examples and code. But more important than the tips about Perl(The
Language), (IMHO) were the insights into Perl(The Environment), and
Perl(The Zen Programming Practice), and Perl(The Problem Solving
Tool). This book is a comprehensive resource for many of the topics
that "Legacy Coders" (anyone working on code older than a week...)
need on a daily/weekly basis. It's a compilation of various
bits/pieces that I've seen before, but would be hard pressed to find
in the throes of a development cycle. It's just deep enough to
introduce the topics I don't yet know (but not so deep as to become
tedious), with references to more information. It's the trusted hint I
need before investing in researching some module or technique, many of
which have tempted me in the past, only to end in disappointment.
Peter's endorsement have me feel confident that they're worth

It's a case study in how to think about Programming and Perl
Programming, with practical examples of how the feedback from
practical to theoretical can happen. It appeals equally deeply to the
scientist, engineer, artist, and hacker in me while satisfying my
Laziness, Impatience, & Hubris (as well as Pride of Craft,
Intellectual Curiosity, and Sense of Fun.)

It's got a fun tone, but unlike many "funny" books, Peter's humor does
not get in the way of what is obviously a well researched book
informed by a deep practical knowledge of how to solve real world
problems with real world obstacles.

This book is a "must have" snapshot of the state of the practice and
state of the art in the Perl5 (going on Perl6) era. Much of the Perl
wisdom "out there" is dated -- written for Perl4, early Perl5 -- the
shoulders that we stand on today. This is a book for today, informed
by the decade and a half of previous Perl Giants, who are all given
due credit for their contribution

Get a copy of this book!!! Read it. Mark it up. Learn. Become a better
(Perl) Programmer. Pass on the wisdom. Recommend the book to your
trusted colleagues.

Michael Wolf

Michael R. Wolf
    All mammals learn by playing!
        MichaelRWolf at att.net

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