I am thrilled to announce the release this month (May, 2001) of the second edition of my bestselling: Perl and CGI for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide, published by Peachpit Press, with ISBN 0-201-73568-7.

Would you like to use forms to get information from your visitors? Set up a discussion board or a shopping cart? Create a counter? Or give your visitors access to a personalized database? Perl and CGI are the tools you need. My book is designed for folks who've never programmed before, and while it starts at the very beginning, I don't bog you down with a lot of theory. Like my HTML book, I show you step-by-step how to write your very own scripts from scratch.

Want to see what the book contains? Check out the online Table of Contents or the index.


There are almost sixty new pages packed with new information for the second edition. Apart from a complete overhaul of the entire book, including new tips, extra explanations and more details about existing topics, I've also added three important new areas.

First, I cover how to set up a server on your own computer (Mac or Windows) so that you can test your scripts without an account at a remote Web host (and without paying any monthly fees).

Next, I explain how to write secure scripts without bugs, taking advantage of Perl's -w and -T switches, and the use strict pragma.

Finally, I show you how to use CGI.pm, the standard module for parsing form data.

The Focus is on the Web
Perl is a huge, multifaceted programming language that can be used for most anything. But if you're interested in using Perl to make your Web pages interactive, you may not want to have to sift through all that other stuff. My book focuses on using Perl for the Web. Each example starts with a link or an HTML page that calls a script. And all of the output is displayed on a Web page. This is information you can really use, right away!

Interacting with your visitors
One of the coolest things about Perl is how it lets you interact with your visitors. You can ask them questions with a form--and then respond based on what they've told you, or simply store the information for later use. Or maybe you want to let them search your site for a particular page. My book also explains how to use cookies and hidden fields so that you can remember what your visitors have told you and thus customize their visit to you, say, by greeting them by name.

For the complete beginner
Most Perl and CGI books assume that you have some prior knowledge of either programming or Perl or both. My book doesn't. Even if you've never programmed before, you'll be able to use my book to start writing your very own scripts. Each page of my book explains a single concept of Perl and gives you a real world (OK, my sort of real world) example in which you might use it. You can download or copy the scripts and try them out on your own server and then make additions or modifications as you like.

Getting help with other people's scripts
Maybe you've already tried experimenting with other people's Perl scripts. Even if you're not interested in writing your own scripts from scratch--there are so many great scripts available on the Web for free or close to it--my book will help you find, download, understand, configure, and customize ready-made scripts. The information you find in my Perl and CGI book will help you decide which script really satisfies your needs, whether it poses any security concerns, and how to set it up on your own server. And, as long as the original author gives you permission, you can use my book to add to the script so that it does exactly what you want.

Two Companion Web Sites!
Perl and CGI for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide, Second Edition has two companion Web sites. The first is at Peachpit Press' site. It contains the Table of Contents, all the Source code and Examples, an excerpt of one of the chapters, and more.

And you've already found the second companion Web site. It's right here at Cookwood Press. Here you''ll find all of the scripts and HTML code that accompanies them--set up in such a way that you can test the scripts to see how they work depending on the input you give them. There's also a Table of Contents and Index, an Errata page (hopefully short), and much more.

Clear, Concise Instructions
Each Perl function is explained with short, clear, step-by-step instructions accompanied by two-color illustrations so you can see exactly what to do and what it will look like when you've done it. You'll never have to wade through pages and pages of filler.

Great Reference
Can't remember how to use a function or operator? Just look it up in the complete index, jump to the page and you're done. Perl and CGI for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide makes a great reference book even after you're familiar with the basic concepts.

Low Price
Perl and CGI for the World Wide Web:Visual Quickstart Guide, Second Edition only costs $19.99. You won't find another book that gets you up and running your own scripts for less.

Same author (and style!) as bestselling HTML 4 book
Hundreds of thousands of readers have learned to write HTML with the help of my bestselling HTML 4 for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide. Check out what they said, or look at the pages that some of them have created. I have used the same direct, clear, but informal style with the Perl book. I think you'll find it very useful.