Perl What Is It

This chapter will be non-technical focused on understanding Perl background


Perl – Practical Extraction and Reporting Language
Author – Larry Wall
First release – 1987
Current License – GNU / Open Source

Perl is:

  • Scripting Language developed mainly for Unix like environment, as well it was ported on not Unix like OS. According to this, Perl is possible to find as pre-installed scripting language in most Unix like OS systems, as well it’s possible to get an version for most not Unix like systems.
  • Is including the best from multiple languages like AWK, SED , GREP, SHELL , C … . According to this, if you’re familiar with some of this languages it's easy for you to understand and use Perl.
  • Mainly used at OS administrators for the flexibility and reliability. It’s nice scripting language for situations, when you’re looking for syntax and flexibility of “shell” script but with reliability of “C” programming language.
  • Used as well at WEB portals as one of the CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripting language. Even today the preference for this kind of programming is focused on PHP, Java, Python, …. Perl is still able to provide as well CGI integration that is sufficient for many projects.


Version URL
Perl 5
Perl 6

When to use Perl

In this chapter I don't want to say that Perl is the one and only one right tool, for all cases. Anytime when you’ll chose a tool that you’d like to use, it’s important to understand what is the subject, reason and purpose of your task to choose the right tool.

Its same as choosing right tool for:

  • Working on your car project
  • Repairing you licking pipe at home
  • Repairing your watch
  • Reconstructing your home

In some cases the tool is suitable for more type of projects, but in another cases it’s not.

According to this it’s really on the person that will work on particular project to choose the right tool.

When to consider Perl Usage

Commonly Perk is considered as one of the best tools in cases like:

  • You’re sysadmin and you’ll need an scripting language that is more matured and flexible as standard shell
  • You’d like to create web page with CGI and you are familiar with Perl.
  • You’re programmer and you’re looking for simple prototyping / scripting language.
  • You’re looking for an scripting language for solving common issues

Benefits of using Perl

  • Perl don't need additional software like IDE (Integrated Development Environment) or additional application. Its free available and all your scripts is possible to create and edit in almost any editing software that can work with plane text files.
  • As we’re speaking about scripting language, you’ll benefit of the possibility to edit directly the source code that don't need to be compiled before it will be interpreted. According to this you’ll benefit from this especially when you’ll prototyping.
  • Its portable. In some cases you’d like to write one script that can be used across multiple OS platforms. The philosophy of Perl is to make your scripts portable across all OS platforms (even in some cases it can be tricky).
  • Perl is flexible ( his can be benefit as well it can cause lot of issues). There isn't only one way to solve the issue, as well there isn't only one way how to write an Perl script. According to this for many cases in Perl you’ll see more as one way how to deal with it.
  • It’s not too difficult to get first steps in Perl and you can then start to build your knowledge and experiences on top of them.
  • ..

When to consider Another Language

In case that you’re:

  • Looking for complied language, I assume that you’d look for different tool.
  • Writing program for microprocessors (like PIC,.. ), probably in case like this you’d like to check C or Assembler.
  • Working in team that is using different tools set and project need to be compliant with team strategy that don’t include Perl.
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