0.4. History of This Book
For the curious, here's how Randal tells the story of how this book came about:
After I had finished the first Programming Perl book with Larry Wall (in 1991), I was approached by Taos Mountain Software in Silicon Valley to produce a training course. This included having me deliver the first dozen or so courses and train their staff to continue offering the course. I wrote the course for them and delivered it for them as promised.
On the third or fourth delivery of that course (in late 1991), someone came up to me and said, "you know, I really like Programming Perl, but the way the material is presented in this course is so much easier to follow -- you oughta write a book like this course." It sounded like an opportunity to me, so I started thinking about it.
I wrote to Tim O'Reilly with a proposal based on an outline that was similar to the course I was presenting for Taos -- although I had rearranged and modified a few of the chapters based on observations in the classroom. I think that was my fastest proposal acceptance in history -- I got a message from Tim within fifteen minutes saying "we've been waiting for you to pitch a second book -- Programming Perl is selling like gangbusters." That started the effort over the next eighteen months to finish the first edition of Learning Perl.
During that time, I was starting to see an opportunity to teach Perl classes outside Silicon Valley, so I created a class based on the text I was writing for Learning Perl. I gave a dozen classes for various clients (including my primary contractor, Intel Oregon), and used the feedback to fine-tune the book draft even further.
The first edition hit the streets on the first day of November, 1993 and became a smashing success, frequently even outpacing Programming Perl book sales.
The back-cover jacket of the first book said "written by a leading Perl trainer." Well, that became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Within a few months, I was starting to get email from all over the United States from people asking to have me teach at their site. In the following seven years, my company became the leading worldwide on-site Perl training company, and I had personally racked up (literally) a million frequent-flier miles. It didn't hurt that the Web started taking off about then, and the webmasters and webmistresses picked Perl as the language of choice for content management, interaction through CGI, and maintenance.
For the past two years, I've been working closely with Tom Phoenix in his role as lead trainer and content manager for Stonehenge, giving him charter to experiment with the "Llama" course by moving things around and breaking things up. When we had come up with what we thought was the best major revision of the course, I contacted O'Reilly and said "it's time for a new book!" And now you're reading it.
Some of the differences you may notice from prior editions:
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