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Introduction to Perl

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Perl is a general-purpose, high level interpreted and dynamic programming language. It was developed by Larry Wall, in 1987. There is no official Full form of the Perl, but still, the most used expansion is “Practical Extraction and Reporting Language“. Some of the programmers also refer Perl as the “Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister” Or “Practically Everything Really Likable“. The acronym “Practical Extraction and Reporting Language” is used widely because Perl was originally developed for the text processing like extracting the required information from a specified text file and for converting the text file into a different form. Perl supports both the procedural and Object-Oriented programming. Perl is a lot similar to C syntactically and is easy for the users who have knowledge of C, C++. Evolution of Perl: It all started when Larry Wall was working on a task to generate the reports from a lot of text files which have cross-references. Then he started to use awk for this task but soon he found that it is not sufficient for this task. So instead of writing a utility for this task, he wrote a new language i.e. Perl and also wrote the interpreter for it. He wrote the language Perl in C and some of the concepts are taken from awk, sed, and LISP etc. At the beginning level, Perl was developed only for the system management and text handling but in later versions, Perl got the ability to handle regular expressions, and network sockets etc. In present Perl is popular for its ability to handling the Regex(Regular Expressions). The first version of Perl was 1.0 which released on December 18, 1987. The latest version of Perl is 5.28. Perl 6 is different from Perl 5 because it is a fully object-oriented reimplementation of Perl 5.

Perl is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that was created by Larry Wall in 1987. It was originally designed for text processing, but has since evolved to become a full-featured programming language that is widely used in web development, system administration, network programming, and more.

Perl is a popular choice for many programmers because of its versatility and powerful regular expression support, which makes it ideal for text processing and data manipulation tasks. It also has a large and active community of developers who have contributed to a vast library of modules and extensions that can be used to extend the language’s functionality.

One of Perl’s defining features is its “There’s more than one way to do it” philosophy, which encourages developers to solve problems using their own preferred methods rather than adhering to strict coding conventions. This can make Perl code more flexible and expressive, but it can also lead to code that is difficult to read and maintain.

Perl code is typically interpreted, meaning that it is executed directly by the computer without the need for compilation. This can make development faster and more flexible, but can also lead to slower execution times for large programs. However, Perl also supports compilation through tools such as Perlcc and Parrot, which can help to improve performance for larger projects.

Why Perl?

Perl has many reasons for being popular and in demand. Few of the reasons are mentioned below:

  • Easy to start: Perl is a high-level language so it is closer to other popular programming languages like C, C++ and thus, becomes easy to learn for anyone.
  • Text-Processing: As the acronym “Practical Extraction and Reporting Language” suggest that Perl has the high text manipulation abilities by which it can generate reports from different text files easily. Also, it can convert the files into some another form.
  • Contained best Features: Perl contains the features of different languages like C, sed, awk, and sh etc. which makes the Perl more useful and productive.
  • System Administration: Due to having the different scripting languages capabilities Perl make the task of system administration very easy. Instead of becoming dependent on many languages, just use Perl to complete out the whole task of system administration. In Spite of this Perl also used in web programming, web automation, GUI programming etc.
  • Web and Perl: Perl can be embedded into web servers to increase its processing power and it has the DBI package, which makes web-database integration very easy.

Beginning with Perl Programming:

  • Finding a Interpreter: There are various online IDEs which can be used to run Perl programs without installing.
  • Windows: There are various IDEs to run Perl programs or scripts: Padre, Eclipse with EPIC plugin etc.

Programming in Perl

Since the Perl is a lot similar to other widely used languages syntactically, it is easier to code and learn in Perl. Programs can be written in Perl in any of the widely used text editors like Notepad++, gedit etc. After writing the program save the file with the extension .pl or .PL To run the program use perl on the command line. Example: A simple program to print Welcome to GFG! 


# Perl program to print Welcome to GFG!
# Below line will print "Welcome to GFG!"
print "Welcome to GFG!\n";



Welcome to GFG!

Comments: Comments are used for enhancing the readability of the code. The interpreter will ignore the comment entries and does not execute them. Comments can be of the single line or multiple lines.

  • Single line Comment: Syntax:
# Single line comment
  • Multi-line comment: Syntax:
= Multi line comments
Line start from  = is interpreted as the
starting of multiline comment and =cut is 
consider as the end of multiline comment

print: It is a function in Perl to show the result or any specified output on the console. Quotes: In Perl, you can use either single quotes(‘’)or double quotes(“”). Using single quotes will not interpolate any variable or special character but using double quotes will interpolates. \n: It is used for the new line character which uses the backslash (\) character to escape any type of character. /usr/bin/perl: It is actual Perl interpreter binary which always starts with #!. This is used in the Perl Script Mode Programming.

Note: Perl is case sensitive programming language and that’s why $Geeks and $geeks are two different identifiers.

Advantages of Perl:

  • Perl Provides supports for cross platform and it is compatible with mark-up languages like HTML, XML etc.
  • It is very efficient in text-manipulation i.e. Regular Expression. It also provides the socket capability.
  • It is free and a Open Source software which is licensed under Artistic and GNU General Public License (GPL).
  • It is an embeddable language that’s why it can embed in web servers and database servers.
  • It supports more than 25, 000 open source modules on CPAN(Comprehensive Perl Archive Network) which provide many powerful extensions to the standard library. For example, XML processing, GUI(Graphical User Interface) and DI(Database Integration) etc.
  • Flexibility: Perl is a flexible language that allows programmers to solve problems using a variety of approaches, making it easy to write code quickly and efficiently.
  • Regular expressions: Perl has excellent support for regular expressions, which makes it ideal for text processing and data manipulation tasks.
  • Large library of modules: Perl has a vast library of modules that can be used to extend its functionality, making it easy to add complex
  • features to your programs without having to reinvent the wheel.
  • Cross-platform support: Perl runs on a wide range of platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and more.
  • Easy to learn: Perl has a relatively simple syntax and is easy to learn, especially for programmers who are familiar with other scripting languages.

Disadvantages of Perl:

  • Perl doesn’t supports portability due to CPAN modules.
  • Programs runs slowly and program needs to be interpreted each time when any changes are made.
  • In Perl, the same result can be achieved in several different ways which make the code untidy as well as unreadable.
  • Usability factor is lower when compared to other languages.
  • Complex syntax: Perl’s flexibility can also be a disadvantage, as it can lead to code that is difficult to read and maintain, especially for developers who are new to the language.
  • Performance: Perl is an interpreted language, which means that it can be slower than compiled languages like C or Java for large or computationally intensive programs.
  • Legacy code: Because Perl has been around for over 30 years, there is a lot of legacy code written in earlier versions of the language that may not be compatible with newer versions.
  • Security: Perl has some security concerns, such as the possibility of code injection attacks if the input data is not properly sanitized.


  • One of the major application of Perl language is to processing of text files and analysis of the strings.
  • Perl also used for CGI( Common Gateway Interface) scripts.
  • Used in web development, GUI(Graphical User Interface) development.
  • Perl’s text-handling capabilities is also used for generating SQL queries

Perl has a wide range of applications, including:

  • Web development: Perl is commonly used for server-side web development, with popular frameworks such as Catalyst and Dancer.
  • Text processing: Perl’s powerful regular expression support makes it ideal for text processing tasks, such as parsing log files, extracting data from web pages, and manipulating text files.
  • System administration: Perl is often used for system administration tasks, such as automating system backups, managing configuration files, and monitoring system resources.
  • Network programming: Perl can be used for network programming, with modules available for tasks such as sending email, communicating with web services, and building network protocols.
  • Bioinformatics: Perl is widely used in bioinformatics, with popular modules such as BioPerl providing a powerful toolkit for biological data analysis and manipulation.
  • GUI development: Perl can be used for GUI development with toolkits such as Perl/Tk, allowing developers to create cross-platform desktop applications.

Overall, Perl’s versatility and powerful text processing capabilities make it well-suited for a wide range of applications, particularly in areas such as web development, system administration, and bioinformatics.

Last Updated : 13 Apr, 2023
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