Let’s admit it. Perl is everywhere. It powers most of the Internet, in one form or another. What? Your site doesn’t use Perl and CGI? Well, what about the administrative scripts that keep it running smoothly when everyone is snug in their beds? Even a fair chunk of Microsoft IIS servers rely on Perl for administrative tasks. I’m not saying that Perl is being used on every site on the Internet, including yours. I’m saying that Perl is probably being used on any random site you happen to look at on the Internet, including yours.
Why not learn how to use it?
This series is intended to provide the non-programmer with a gentle introduction to the Perl programing language. When you are done with it, you should feel ready to learn more. You will not be an expert, but you will be able to find the information you need to go farther. Beginners and experts alike should feel free to send me suggestions for improving this tutorial.
Perl is a rich language. There are many ways to use it, and many ways to learn it. My focus is on how a beginner can use the features of Perl 5.14 to create programs.
Even more specifically, how a beginner can use the features of Perl 5.14 to write the sort of code I would prefer to see people write. Hey. At least I’m honest.
It is explicitly not a tutorial for people who need to maintain a big pile of legacy code that hides dragons and dark secrets — or for somebody who wants to whip out quick one-liners and scripts to accomplish amazing administrative tasks. See below for some of my favorite books for different approaches to learning Perl.
- Learning Perl - now in its sixth edition - is the standard for learning how to get stuff done in Perl. It is very easy to understand and gives you a broad understanding of how to speak native Perl.
- Minimal Perl keeps a strong focus on the sort of Perl you would want for shell scripting and administrative tasks. Its greatest strength is that it shows you how little code you must write to accomplish big jobs.
- Modern Perl emphasizes language features, libraries, and idioms that have evolved over Perl 5’s long history. It may be a little dense for a person’s first exposure to the language, but it is a great second book regardless of which one you read first.