Robert's Perl Tutorial
What is Perl?
Perl is a programming language. Perl stands for Practical Report and Extraction
Language. You'll notice people refer to 'perl' and "Perl". "Perl" is
the programming language as a whole whereas 'perl' is the name of the core executable.
There is no language called "Perl5" -- that just means "Perl version
5". Versions of Perl prior to 5 are very old and very unsupported.
Some of Perl's many strengths are:
- Speed of development. You edit a text file, and just run it. You can develop
programs very quickly like this. No separate compiler needed. I find Perl runs a program
quicker than Java, let alone compare the complete
- Power. Perl's regular expressions are some of the best available. You can work
with objects, sockets...everything a systems administrator could want. And that's just the
standard distribution. Add the wealth of modules available on CPAN and you have it all.
Don't equate scripting languages with toy languages.
- Usuability. All that power and capability can be learnt in easy stages. If you
can write a batch file you can program Perl. You don't have to learn object oriented
programming, but you can write OO programs in Perl. If autoincrementing non-existent
variables scares you, make perl refuse to let you. There is always more than one way to do
it in Perl. You decide your style of programming, and Perl will accommodate you.
- Portability. On the Superhighway to the Portability Panacea, Perl's Porsche
powers past Java's jaded jalopy. Many people develop Perl scripts on NT, or Win95, then
just FTP them to a Unix server where they run. No modification necessary.
- Editing tools You don't need the latest Integrated Development Environment for
Perl. You can develop Perl scripts with any text editor. Notepad, vi, MS Word 97, or even
direct off the console. Of course, you can make things easy and use one of the many
freeware or shareware programmer's file editors.
- Price. Yes, 0 guilders, pounds, dmarks, dollars or whatever. And the peer to peer
support is also free, and often far better than you'd ever get by paying some company to
answer the phone and tell you to do what you just tried several times already, then look
up the same reference books you already own.