Powerful, stable, portable and mature, Perl is one of the most feature-rich programming languages with over two decades of development. Perl is portable and cross-platform. At the time of this writing, Perl can runs on over 100 platforms. Perl is good for mission critical large scale projects as well as rapid prototyping.
Perl is used for mission critical projects because its code is high quality. According to the Coverity analysis, Perl’s core code has been certified to be free of security flaws and has low defect density.
Perl is extendable. Perl has more than hundreds of thousands open sources modules on Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN). Those modules provide many powerful extensions to the standard library e.g., XML processing, graphical user interfaces and database integration that supports major database management systems including Oracle, Sybase, PostgresSQL, MySQL and many more.
Perl is an easy to use language. It is intended to be efficient and complete rather than elegant and minimal. Perl supports some major programming paradigms including object-oriented, procedural and functional.
One of the most remarkable features of Perl is text manipulation. Perl comes with a set powerful APIs for processing text that makes it perfect for working with XML, HTML and other mark-up languages. A key feature of text manipulation in Perl is regular expression engine. This is the reason why Perl is popular for both command line tools and web applications.
Perl is an open source project developing and evolving by an active community of programmers and professionals who really use it. You can use or distribute Perl freely under the term of Artistic License or GNU, GPL Licenses. Perl’s commercial support services are also available.
The latest stable version of Perl is 5.16. We are going to use Perl 5.16 for our tutorials.
Perl 6 is a totally different language that is fully object-oriented re-implementation of Perl 5. Perl 6 is still under development at the time of writing.
Larry Wall invented Perl in 1987 when he was a linguist, working as a system administrator at NASA. The beginning intention of Perl was a general purpose scripting language in UNIX to process reports easier and faster. Since then, Perl has been kept evolving with a lot of improvements and innovations to make it become popular among developers and professionals.