To date, I haven't had much need to pull data from web pages, so I set up a simple interactive telnet session in Perl to grab what I needed. Not elegant, but it worked. Unfortunately, it was rather hit and miss, mostly because I didn't understand the protocol as well as I should have.
Enter "Perl & LWP," a book describing the "Library for WWW in Perl." Not only did the book have the expected "here's how the library works," but also an explanation of the HTTP protocol as it applies to what you are doing (or trying to do). This is particularly good for people like me who will learn the minimum necessary to get a job done, and revisit things later to learn more thoroughly, so I improve on what I've already done, and also to be able to apply what I've learned elsewhere. Some useful utilites were also provided.
Top marks for for a useful book - script your way through static and dynamic web sites, deal with cookies, proxy caches, and authentication. The web was intended to be interactive, and the author shows us how to scriptify it.
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