Programming Web Graphics with Perl & GNU Software

Although most of the graphs seen on the Web these days use in-house developed tools, many of them started out using the same tools described by Shawn, such as ImageMagick and the GD library.

Overall, I was quite impressed by Shawn's work on this subject. My very few complaints are:

  • Black and white images made it difficult to see artifacts in side-by-side image format comparisons.

  • Chapter 2 gave Perl code first, then mentioned modules described in later chapters. I thought I'd missed something until I read past the code.

  • Chapter 3 mentioned alignment with “text flow” but did not define what that means. (It refers to alignment with window edges, table or cell frames, and so forth.)

These problems are minor and stood out only because I was specifically doing a review. They don't distract from the main purpose of the book, which is to guide developers in generating web graphics programmatically. The real meat of the book—the in-depth API descriptions—far outweighs any of the smaller issues.

After reading the book, I must say I was initially disappointed with the lack of reference to some tools, such as WhirlGIF for animations. Then I thought more about the title of the book and how it does mention “GNU” specifically. If you live and breathe only GNU, this text is perfect for you. If you are interested in GNU as well as other options, it will fill only part of your needs. Still, it is a fairly solid part, and definitely a great place to start when learning to program web graphics on the fly.

Michael J. Hammel ( is a graphics artist wanna-be, a writer, and a software developer. He wanders the planet aimlessly in search of adventure, quiet beaches and an escape from the computers that dominate his life. He also likes squirrels and the letter “M”. For no particular reason.