Can you learn serious perl programming in 6 months just by books and not working actively in the field

Hi experts,

My day to day work does not involve much of perl but I still use it sparingly. I truly believe that everyone should know perl like ABCD :-)

I stumbled upon this book today

http://fourhourchef.com

and according to the author learning anything decently is possible in 6 months. So what do you all think, can one learn serious perl programming in 6 months just by books and not working actively in the field. Having a 10 month old at my home limits my learning time to 1 or 2 hours most per day

If yes then which is the best books and what is the methodology (other than the camel book which really is like climbing the great "wall" of china)

By decent I mean someone who can answer 80% of perl questions on experts-exchange :-)

thanks
-anshu
anshumaEngineeringAsked:
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käµfm³d 👽Commented:
Sure, I think you could become well-versed in the language within 6 months. However, you have two issues to contend with: Knowing a language is one thing; knowing how to apply it is another. The former could definitely be accomplished within 6 months; the latter would depend more upon experience. My suggestion would be to get your book and study it. Then become involved as the "A" of a Q&A site (hint hint, like this one) and start answering questions. If you're not already working in the field, then why not work with someone who is in the field? You would more or less be apprenticing with the people you are answering questions for. And you could even earn a few spiffy t-shirts (if you join the right site!) in the process.

By decent I mean someone who can answer 80% of perl questions on experts-exchange :-)
Well, you'd be fending off ozo, wilcoxon, and FishMonger...  no small feat, I assure you  ; )
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anshumaEngineeringAuthor Commented:
Hi Kaufmed,

Thanks alot for your answer. Do you recommend a book or a regimen of books/chapters in a particular book.

Also what is the analogous of hitting 1000 tennis balls per day in practicing perl :-) I am sure it's not writing "Hello World" 1000 times  

thanks
-anshu
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käµfm³d 👽Commented:
I have a copy of Sam's Teach Yourself Perl (in 21 Days). I found that one to be a much lighter read than the O'Reilly books. (I've always said that the O'Reilly books are anything but a nutshell!) Perl is not my primary programming language, though, so wait for some of the others to chime in on the subject.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
By decent I mean someone who can answer 80% of perl questions on experts-exchange :-)
That could be misleading.  CPAN, the Perl repository must have thousands of routines that you can install in your copy of Perl.  I think that many are not even used or used anymore.  My problem several times has been finding the library that actually works and is still supported.

If you start on this, you probably want to bookmark and refer to this site http://perldoc.perl.org/perlrequick.html pretty often.  It's almost as good as the php.net site for PHP.
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anshumaEngineeringAuthor Commented:
Hi Dave,

Could you help with the following

"
Do you recommend a book or a regimen of books/chapters in a particular book.

Also what is the analogous of hitting 1000 tennis balls per day in practicing perl :-) I am sure it's not writing "Hello World" 1000 times :-)



thanks
-anshu
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
No, I don't have a book to recommend.  And there isn't anything analogous to hitting a 1000 tennis balls a day because programming does not involve developing muscle memory.  But to become proficient, you may have to understand what appears to be the "Perl way of thinking" along with finding out what are best practices for Perl.  

And beware of what appears to be a lot of mediocre to bad code on the internet.  That's a problem with many programming languages and the ones that have been around a long time seem to suffer from that the worst.

Thinking about it, you might want to get an 'easy' book and a 'reference' book.

And according to http://www.perl.org/ , CPAN has 25,000 extensions available.  Nobody knows them all.  There is a list of books there too.
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clockwatcherCommented:
I'm not very active in the perl category anymore-- or on this site in general, for that matter-- but saw this question and felt like chiming in.

I'm a learn by doing person.  Books are great but I need a keyboard and perl interpreter in front of me and problems to research and solve.  But not having a job involving coding perl, doesn't mean there aren't plenty of problems to work on.  I've learned far more in helping out with answering questions on sites like this then I've ever learned in my day to day job.   It'd be an odd job (and a pretty cool one) where you come up against as varied an assortment of problems that you find on a site like this.   You can't beat this site (or sites/newsgroups like it) for experience.

What's the equivalent of hitting a 1000 tennis balls a day?  Give answering the questions here a try.  You don't have to actually post anything if you're not comfortable and as a beginner someone else will probably beat you to the punch in a lot of cases anyway.  But take the time to research them, figure out how you'd solve them, and then actually write up the code and test your solution.  Not all of the questions on here require a ton of perl knowledge.  There's a wide mix of skill levels.   If another expert has come along and solved the question in the meantime then compare what you did to what they did.

If, on a particular day, you can't find any open questions that you're comfortable with, look back through some of ozo's past perl answers.  Take the time to study them and actually understand the code that she's written.   Break one of her one-liners down into something you can understand.  Believe me, you won't find the quality of programmers in your day to day job that you're going to have available to you here.   There just aren't that many good programmers to go around.  You're also not going to find it in a book.  Review the past answers of any of the top perl experts (kaufmed, FishMonger, Adam312).  Try answering the question yourself first and then compare it to what they came up with.  Take the time to really understand what they've done.  And, if you don't understand it, research it.  Google around until you do.  And, if you still don't understand what they've done, post a question and ask for an explanation.  Believe me, if you actually spend the time and have the diligence to do that, in six months, you'll be plenty comfortable with perl.

I feel fairly fluent with perl.  I'm actually still on the all time leader board in the perl category here-- probably in a good part because I've been around for so long.  The reason that I'm comfortable with perl hasn't got anything to do with anything that I've done at my job.  It's because of my past participation on this site and what I've learned by solving other people's problems and reading and understanding other experts' code.  This site is an incredible resource for learning if you take the time to use it that way.

I still remember my first perl answer:

   http://www.experts-exchange.com/Programming/Languages/Scripting/Perl/Q_10161497.html

Ozo came along with her own much more elegant solution.  I've never stopped learning from this site and I owe a great deal to all the wonderful people that have given up their time to answer questions on this site.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
@clockwatcher is right about answering questions here.  I think I've learned more doing that than any other method.
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FishMongerCommented:
I agree with clockwatcher.  Nearly all of my perl knowledge came from researching and answering questions here and on other forums.  You can go back to some of my early posts (some of which were pretty poor and now embarrassing) and see the progression.

As with ALL programming languages and most everything else in life, you need to practice practice practice in order to be good at it.  In programming that means to need to write lots of code.

As far as books go, here are some of the best and most recommended ones.

Learning Perl, 6th Edition
Programming Perl, 4th Edition
Perl Best Practices
Intermediate Perl, 2nd Edition
Modern Perl Paperback
Modern Perl ebook

I could list more but don't want to go overboard.
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anshumaEngineeringAuthor Commented:
Thanks alot experts
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