As to PHP or Perl, the answer is to use the language that you're most comfortable writing it in. I suspect that's Perl.
As to it being beyond your technical expertise, I think you're overestimating how hard it will be. Consider using text files in some sort of standardized format, rather then going full-out, and using a database.
Good luck with your project -- it sounds like a good one. Difficult enough to strech your skills, without being too difficult to be approachable. Most importantly, somthing you have actual use for.
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