Perl - Getting started

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Perl tutorial part 1

(Original version written by Marco Fioretti for Linux Format magazine issue 69.)

We explain how to keep data under control with a powerful scripting language.

Scripting languages are very popular because they take care by themselves, if sacrificing some performance, of boring details like defining variables, allocating memory, releasing it to the operating system and so on. Perl ( still is, without doubts, one of the most popular languages in this category. This Practical Extraction and Report Language was invented in the late 80s to manipulate huge quantities of text, and it is still mighty good at it. Did you know, for example, that Perl is also credited for saving the Human Genome Project? If not, read the full story at In the 90s Perl was widely used to generate dynamic web pages via CGI scripts. Nowadays PHP ( is probably a more popular solution in that space, but Perl still has a lot of loyal fans and an immense base of scripts, extensions (called modules) and documentation that can be readily adapted to anyone's needs.

Above all, you don't have to be a system administrator or professional programmer to benefit from this language. Perl can help whenever you need to quickly process some text or (why not?) images. It doesn't even matter if the files you want to work on are on your local drive or somewhere on the Internet. Perl has lots of modules to deal transparently with files on remote servers.

Where to learn Perl in depth

How can you become a Perl Wizard? Well, first of all, study “Programming Perl” and the many other books covering every possible side of this language (the best ones are published by O'Reilly, For online documentation, visit the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network ( instead: the complete collection of Perl Modules, together with plenty of tutorials and more technical guides, can be found there. Specific question should be posted instead to the comp.lang.perl.misc newsgroup.