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CGI Programming on the World Wide Web

AuthorShishir Gundavaram Entered2000-12-28 00:19:09 by bcrowell
Editedit data record FreedomCopyrighted, doesn't cost money to read, but otherwise not free (disclaimer)
SubjectQ.A - Mathematics. Computer science (internet and networking)
This link was reported to be OK by user Ben Crowell on 2004-11-15 22:28:40
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I wish I'd known about this book
by Ben Crowell (crowell09 at (change 09 to current year)) on 2001-01-12 16:52:49, review #96
better than 80%
I wish I'd known about this book instead of having to learn about CGI programming from books that not only weren't free but weren't as good! The html-formatted version of the book is attractive and fast-loading. It's very complete. I thought I pretty much knew about CGI programming when I started reading it, but I rapidly found out there were a lot of really nifty things I'd never learned before.

The book is well organized and has a hyperlinked index. I might have found it a bit intimidating to learn CGI from it for the first time -- if you're in this position, the best approach would probably be to skim it very superficially the first time through, and just try to understand some of the simplest examples. The final chapter, on debugging and testing, is worth its weight in gold (well, it's an electronic book, but you get the idea), and I'd suggest reading it sooner rather than later.

After I wrote the original version of this review, Nathan Torkington from O'Reilly wrote to ask if I wanted to review a couple of O'Reilly Perl books. To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, we agreed that I'd donate the review copies to my local library. Well, it turns out that one of the books he sent me was the second edition of this one -- it's not really out of print, as stated on the free first edition's web page. It's now titled CGI Programming With Perl, and it has Scott Guelich and Gunther Birznieks added as coauthors. So your choice is the free first edition or the not-free second edition. The free first edition is not available in printer-friendly format.

The second edition appears to be a massive rewrite. Lots of stuff is reorganized, and there are new chapters on creating bitamps on the fly, XML/middleware, guidelines for better applications, and efficiency and optimization. Some of this is likely to be of interest to everybody (e.g. efficiency), while other parts are not going to useful to most readers (bitmaps).

All in all, O'Reilly seems to be doing both what's right and what's good business. They're making books available on the web for free, but they know that will also be a form of free publicity. I expect to be checking this one out from the library frequently.

Information wants to be free, so make some free information.

This review has been revised. Earlier versions (viewing not yet implemented): -1
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