Perl Debugger Pocket Reference - Short Review

A book about a debugging program is never going to be that exciting. At best it’ll be both comprehensive and concise, two things that don’t have to be mutually exclusive, at worst it’ll be a dull rehash of the perldoc. Which type is this one?

The Perl Debugger Pocket Reference (PDRB) starts with some basic practises to help you avoid debugging (the usual use strict and use warnings) before walking through two very basic debugger sessions and then on to the bulk of the book, the command reference.

It’s hard to judge this section of the book, most people will only read through it once (if that) and will probably just dip in when they need to look something up. The commands are broken up by function, not listed alphabetically, which can be annoying but does let you look for better ways to do tasks. The explanations are clear and the examples are mostly useful so it’s functional if dull.

PDRB then finishes up with a short introduction to the DB and Devel namespaces, what they do and how you can use them to write your own debugging modules. The coverage of this last bit is well written but very light weight - it shows you what’s there, not how to make the most of it.

Down-sides? The biggest example in the book (the linecounter.pl script) is off by two lines in all the examples I tried; which is annoying when you’re trying something for the first time and have no idea why it isn’t working. I’d also like to see a couple of longer debugging sessions, a couple of pages each, with some of the more advanced functions illustrated.

Score: 610. Nicer than the docs but an occasional dip in to rather than an actual read.