Perl is a high-level, general purpose, interpreted programming language invented by Larry Wall way back in 1987. Perl is not really an official acronym, however, Larry Wall would jokingly expand the name as Practical Extraction and Report Language or even more amusingly as Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister. Indeed, Larry invented Perl in order to help him an colleagues with Unix system administration, processing of text files and generating reports. The name "Perl" refers to Perl 5 since its sister language Perl 6, which began as a redesign of Perl 5 in 2000, has actually evolved into a separate language. Perl is a truly eclectic programming language widely borrowing features from other programming languages including C language, Unix or Linux shell scripts (sh), Lisp, AWK, and sed. Perl 5 gained widespread popularity in the late 1990s as a CGI scripting language (standard protocol for web servers generating dynamic web pages; later vastly improved by the implementation of Perl module mod_perl on the Apache HTTP Server), in part due to its unsurpassed regular expressions (string searching pattern algorithms) functionality. In 1998, it was even referred to as the "duct tape that holds the Internet together". These days Perl 5 is mostly used for system administration, network programming, finance, bioinformatics, database systems and other applications. Interestingly, there are at least a few very well known and powerful web services using Perl which proves that it is still doing great despite a fierce competition between programming languages:
to mention just a few. Funnily enough, Perl has been nicknamed "the Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages" because of its flexibility and power!!!
In 1991, O'Reilly Media published an authoritative guide to Perl entitled Programming Perl coauthored by its creator, Larry Wall, which was soon adopted as the undisputed Perl bible. It features a picture of a dromedary camel on the cover and is commonly called the Camel Book. This image of a camel has become an unofficial symbol of Perl as well as a general hacker emblem, appearing on T-shirts and other clothing items.
According to Wall, Perl has two major slogans. The first one is "There's more than one way to do it" commonly known as TMTOWTDI or TIMTOWTDI, and pronounced Tim Toady. The other one goes like this "Easy things should be easy and hard things should be possible".
Cool links which will help you get started with Perl:
- Perl.org (download Perl for Unix/Linux, MacOS or Windows)
- Perl Monks (a Perl community which allows everyone to grow and learn from each other with discussion forum and free tutorials)
- Perl at Stack Overflow (a high quality Questions and Answers board)
- Perl Mongers (over 200 international Perl User Groups)
- CPAN (The Comprehensive Perl Archive Network is a repository of over 180,000 free Perl modules in nearly 40,000 distributions, written by ca. 14,000 authors, and mirrored on more than 250 servers.)
- Perl Maven (Perl tutorials and courses)
- PERL and CGI Tutorial (interactive tutorial for beginners)!!!
- Learn-Perl.org Tutorial (interactive tutorial for beginners)
- Perl for Perl Newbies (a real nice online tutorial for beginners)!!!
- Guru99 Perl Tutorial for Beginners: Learn in 1 Day!!! (non-interactive, extremely good but way too detailed for one day)
- Learn Perl in about 2 hours 30 minutes (a concise online tutorial)
- PerlTutorial.org speaks for itself (an excellent tutorial with lots of worked examples in the form of code listing)!!!
- Teach Yourself Perl 5 in 21 days (a very well organized and informative online tutorial by David Till). I specifically recommend you check out the chapter on Pattern Matching, References in Perl 5 and Object-Oriented Programming in Perl!!!
- Official documentation for the Perl programming language by Perldoc.Perl.org (excellent stuff with lots of tutorials and worked examples)!!!
- Regular Expressions and Matching (Learn the true power of Perl!)
- Regular Expressions for Newbies (from Perl for Perl Newbies)
- Perl Regular Expression (a fantabulous coverage of Perl regex meant for beginners with many worked examples)!!!
- PerlReTut - Perl regular expressions tutorial (a very good regex tutorial with practical examples by perldoc.perl.org)!!!
- Beginning Perl by Curtis “Ovid” Poe (a free online Perl book!)
- Beginning Perl (Programmer to Programmer) by Simon Cozens (a more advanced free online Perl book!)
- Modern Perl (a more advanced Perl book also available in PDF format)
- Impatient Perl (a free Perl ebook also in PDF format)
- Learning Perl the Hard Way (a reference book for programmers)
- Perl Video Tutorial by Devi Killada B.E(E.I.E), graduate from Gandhi Institute of Technology and Managament (TutorialsPoint)!!!
- Perl Programming Exercises by Gabor Szabo at Perl Maven
- Execute Perl Online by CodingGround at TutorialsPoint!!!
- Online Perl IDE by CodingGround at TutorialsPoint!!!
- Get a Job Doing Perl
- Perl Jobs (employers using jobs.perl.org include Amazon.com, Yahoo, Ticketmaster, Google, BBC, IMDb.com, Verizon Wireless, Veritas, Oracle, Tucows, Texas A&M University, Stanford University, Monash University, Northwestern University, Harvard University, Siemens, Red Hat Inc, U.S. Forest Service, Intel, Boston.com, DrJays.com, LexisNexis, Barclays Global Investors, ThinkGeek, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Topica, ActiveState, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, DreamWorks Animation and many others)
Perl has a very special place in my heart. One of the reasons probably is that Perl is the first programming language that I have learned. I am also very proud that I wrote my first CGI script in Perl (well, with a little help from my Dad, of course)! As a matter of fact, I love Perl as it is a real user-friendly and relatively easy programming language being very useful for... well, just getting things done!