Perl Programming Help by Programmers hub

Perl Programming language

Perl is a collection of few high level, interpreted, dynamic programming languages which include Perl 5 and Perl 6. People tend to relate it as an acronym reading ‘Practical extraction and reporting language’ though it not an official acronym. Perl was developed by Larry Wall as a general purpose Unix-scripting language in 1987. The aim back then was just to make report processing simpler.

After that, it has been subjected to several alterations and improvements so much so that Perl 6 which was to be an improved version of Perl 5 eventually became a separate computing language and former too developed individually.

The Perl languages are based on features of other languages such as C, shell script, AWK and sed. The strong text processing facilities without random data length limits of several Unix tools and manipulation of text files are borrowed by those. Perl 5 was quite popular in the 1990s for an unsurpassed regularly expressing CGI scripting language along with its string parsing abilities.

Perl 5 was also used for system administration, network programming, finance, bioinformatics and other applications like GUIs. It was given the title ‘the Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting language’ due to its flexibility and power. It was also later on referred to as ‘duct tape’ for it held together with different languages.

Perl used in many fields some of the fields in which Perl programming is using are :

  • graphics programming
  • system administration
  • network programming
  • finance
  • bioinformatics

History of Perl language

Larry Wall started developing Perl language in 1987 at Unisys where he was working as a programmer. The first version was released on a newsgroup on December 18 in 1987 which later grew exponentially the next few years.

The second version, Perl 2, was developed in 1988 featuring a better regular expression engine. Another version, Perl 3, followed the first two in 1989 supporting binary data streams.

The original documentation for Perl was just one lengthy man page. A book titled ‘Programming Perl’, popularly known as ‘Camel book’ in the world of programming was published in 1991. It gradually turned out to be the first reference for the Perl languages. During the reign of the book, a major version of Perl 4 was launched which was well documented by the book.

Perl Programming Code Example

#!/usr/bin/perl
 use strict;
 use warnings;
 use IO::Handle;
 
 my ( $remaining, $total );
 
 $remaining = $total = shift(@ARGV);
 
 STDOUT->autoflush(1);
 
 while ( $remaining ) {
  printf ( "Remaining %s/%s \r", $remaining--, $total );
  sleep 1;
 }
 
 print "\n";
Perl Programming language

Features of Perl Programming language

  • Perl takes the best features from other languages, such as C, awk, sed, sh, and BASIC, among others.
  • Perls database integration interface DBI supports third-party databases including Oracle, Sybase, Postgres, MySQL and others.
  • Perl works with HTML, XML, and other mark-up languages.
  • Perl supports Unicode.
  • Perl is Y2K compliant.
  • Perl supports both procedural and object-oriented programming.
  • Perl interfaces with external C/C++ libraries through XS or SWIG.
  • Perl is extensible. There are over 500 third party modules available from the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN).
  • The Perl interpreter can be embedded into other systems

Advantages of Perl language

  1. The Perl languages work on almost all sorts of platforms which are unlike many other computing languages.
  2. It is a much more portable language as when compared to C and C++.
  3. Perl comes with several pre-loaded libraries, free modules and software.
  4. Perl computing is more efficient in the text as well as string manipulation.
  5. This language has been inspired by the best features of other languages and hence, it comes down to most of the good features being available to you.
  6. Learning for beginners is very easy due to its derived nature from other languages.
  7. Dynamic memory allocation is pretty handy in any of the Perl versions.
  8. Perl has the ability to combine two or more programs together.
  9. Perl has changed the norm of scripting languages and plays a crucial role in its development.
  10. Variations in syntax are possible with Perl languages.

Disadvantages of Perl language

  1. One cannot create a binary image or extension within a Perl file. It requires a lot of effort to get that task done.
  2. If you are using the specific Perl modules to create a program, you will have to install those modules on every computer or operating system on which you intend to run the output of the program.
  3. Perl is a scripting but interpretative language and it is, hence, slower than other computing and compiled languages.
  4. Though it is considered easier to learn, Perl can be tough for few people as well. If you are a programmer, you might stumble while learning because you may get confused from all the borrowed features Perl works upon.

Applications of Perl language

  1. Perl is being used to write scripts for high traffic websites. Few of these websites are cPanel, Slash, Bugzilla, RT and Movable Type.
  2. It also happens to be an optional component for the famous LAMP technology for web development replacing python.
  3. Perl is used for connecting two or more systems or even interfaces that were not designed to operate together. That gives Perl a new title of being a ‘glue language’.
  4. Perl is also used for data munging which involves converting and processing a large amount of data for creating task reports.
  5. The combination of interfaces makes Perl computing a great choice for system administering and also for the management of short programs such as ‘one-liner programs’
  6. All Perl codes are portable across windows and Unix interfaces.
  7. Many companies and websites use Perl languages for creating GUIs.