Time for second edition Perl Best Practices?

I just noticed that Perl Best Practices is copyright 2005.  When it came out, I thought it showed a professional side to Perl programming, a side that is more than just line noise and slapped-together glue scripts.

I remember someone's review more or less said that it was something that you could show your boss or show your team and use to cut through the TIMTOWTDI excuse for people's bad code.

I didn't agree with everything, and I wasn't alone.  There are critiques scattered across various reviews, blogs and posts.  For example, here were a couple that I dug up:

But by provoking a debate about just what was or wasn't a best practice, Damian helped jump-start broader attempts to advocate a more professional approach to Perl programming.  (c.f. Perl::Critic, Modern Perl Books, Enlightened Perl, or Catalyzed.org)

Four years is a long time in the Perl world.  Even if the PBP Table of Contents is about right, many of the 'best practices' themselves are probably woefully out of date.  A new version would probably include features in Perl5 Version 10 like given/when, smart matching and named captures.  Moose is a much better 'best practice' for object-oriented Perl than Class::Std. ((And inside-out objects are better done with Object::InsideOut or Class::InsideOut anyway)).  Perl::Critic should be in there.  And I'm sure there are plenty more.

Why do we need a second edition?  Because anything new has to compete for oxygen and credibility against this one book with a great title written in 2005.  And only a book -- not an article on the web -- can have the same "smack it down on the desk to end the argument" impact that PBP had when it came out.

Perl Best Practices have changed.  It's time for the second edition.

O'Reilly, are you listening?

This entry was posted in perl programming and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted May 22, 2009 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    I wouldn't expect a second edition from that publisher before they can produce a version for Perl 6. Call it a hunch.

  2. Posted May 22, 2009 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Some Perl books have copyrights even older and remain to this day classics even if though never updated. Perl Best Practices is one of those classics and I see no really urgent reasons to bring out a newer addition. Some of the chapters have been somewhat controversial from the very beginning, and that will not change. My opinion is that the book can probably last at least a couple more years as is.

  3. Posted May 22, 2009 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    I think you touched an important point here. From my experience I can say that programmers are relatively easy to convince about good programming techniques, they do like to write good code, but among managers the attitude is much more resistant. You are right that a book, especially published by O'Reilly, is a chance to percolate our knowledge to the management level.

  4. brian d foy
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    It's not so much the publisher not listening as an author not updating. If Damian doesn't make the update and push for it, it's probably not going to happen. Also, Perl Best Practices hasn't had strong sales, which makes the motivation even less.

  5. Dan
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    I love PerlBP, it completely changed the way I write Perl. TIMTOWTDI is such a pervasive idea in the Perl world, and it certainly has its merits. But to a new Perl programmer it can be extremely intimidating. PerlBP answers a huge number of questions for the new coder and gives them a nice framework to use to solve problems.

    I would love to see another version of the book. Or even simply "More" best practices as an additional, if shorter, set of recommendations.

  6. Geber22
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    "use to cut through the TIMTOWTDI excuse for people’s bad code"

    Exactly, these same people would make a mess, no matter what language they coded in, I've seen it first hand.

  7. Robert
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Maybe something could be created with a CC license and then we as a community can take ownership of it and as practices change so canthe guide? Just a thought...

  8. Posted May 22, 2009 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I have a talk called "Perl Second-Best Practices" where I try to frame each of Damian's 255 "Best" practices in a practical light.

    • david
      Posted May 23, 2009 at 5:19 am | Permalink

      Randal, are slides or video of the talk online somewhere?

  9. Posted May 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    +1: So much has changed with the addition of Moose to the mix, and it's handy to have a single resource to point to.

    Hasn't sold well? Damn, everybody I know has a copy, and it's pretty much been a permanent member of my Safari Bookshelf since it came out. *Sigh*.

  10. Joaquin Abian
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Now it is mid 2013. Unfortunately there is not update yet. :-(

One Trackback