What is Perl?

To most people, programming is a strange and difficult skill. Indeed, many programming languages require extensive knowledge and a great deal of time to perfect. There are, however, some languages like Perl that can be learned in a matter of days and prepare people to find highly-paid jobs all around the world.

Practical Extraction and Report Language (unofficially known as PERL) is a stable programming language that works on various platforms and allows users dynamic programming. Perl is an object-oriented programming (OOP) language just as some other programming languages such a C++ or Java. OOP means that the coding parts necessary to create new programs are readily available. It also means that all features contained within applications are viewed as independent objects that store specific information.

Perl was developed by a linguist working in NASA named Larry Wall who created this language in 1987 to tackle administrative tasks. Wall intended to incorporate good features of C, SD and LINUX’s Bourne Shell into one into one open source programming software solution. Larry Wall is famous for his philosophy of programming which states that if a programmer does not have fun doing his work, something is wrong. Perl reflects this philosophy and provides one of the most pleasant and enjoyable programming experiences. This language is simple to learn using various books or tutorials that are free of charge, as is the program itself.

Perl was first published in Usenet's alt.comp.sources under the GNU General Public License (GPL), following a nine-month trial period. In the early 1990s, Perl became available to programmers working on Macintosh platforms which were also able to find many published books on working with Perl in a UNIX environment. By the late 1990s, Perl was everywhere- from books and journals to conferences. In 2000, the term Perl was officially listed in the Oxford English Dictionary that defined it as “A high-level, general-purpose programming language used especially for developing Web applications” (Oxford Dictionaries).

What makes Perl Popular?

Perl is not a minimal, elegant, or robust programming language, but rather an expansive software solution that allows users to solve problems or write programs in many different ways. Perl code written in Notepad will run on Microsoft DOS without difficulties. However, Perl can also be used to write scripts commonly found in web pages or control large textual databases. This flexibility and versatility are some of the key points that make Perl one of the most exciting programming languages in the world. Versatility allows programmers to complete their tasks quickly and efficiently and write codes in their way. They may often joke that every program can be converted into a single Perl line.

Perl is one of the first programming languages that became available for download over the internet free of charge. As it was published as open-source code, many individuals and companies helped turn Perl from the simple to the complex full-grown language it is now. Even today, basic versions of Perl can be freely downloaded and used by all people with a connection to the internet.

Perl is a program designed to work with text which makes it optimal for scanning texts. It can also be used to make computer system management solutions. Even though Perl was not built for coding web pages, it can be combined optimally with HTML as a gateway between web server databases and web pages based on HTML technology. Perl language syntax is similar to C language, so C programmers do not have any difficulties mastering it. C programmers may also choose Perl over C for web application building because programming in Perl is much easier and even more secure than C.

As a multi-platform programming language, Perl can be used in Windows, Macintosh or UNIX environments without difficulties. This flexibility has made Perl a very popular language for writing scripts that are running on servers all across the planet. 

Who uses Perl?

As a language that provides many possibilities, Perl users vary both in their age and professional background. Perl has an extremely large community of both online and offline users. Web system administrators, however, are the people who use Perl the most, because this program can be used to create forms and interactive web-based tools. Other Perl users include systems administrators, computer hobbyists, programmers, students, and professors.


Bessant, C., Oakley, D., & Shadforth, I. (2014). Beginning programming in Perl. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658558.003.0003

Cozens, S. (2005). Advanced Perl programming / Simon Cozens. Beijing; Cambridge [Mass.] : O'Reilly, c2005.

Hall, J. N., McAdams, J., & Foy, B. D. (2010). Effective Perl programming: ways to write better, more idiomatic Perl / Joseph N. Hall, Joshua McAdams, Brian D. Foy. [Upper Saddle River, N.J.] : Addison-Wesley, c2010.

Oxford Dictionaries. (2018).  Perl. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/perl

Wainwright, P. (2001). Professional Perl programming / Peter Wainwright, with Aldo Calpini ... [et al.]. Birmingham, UK; [Chicago] : Wrox Press, c2001.


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