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.
Warning: Unless otherwise stated, code is untested. Do not use without understanding. Code is posted in the hopes it is useful, but without warranty. All copyrights are relinquished into the public domain unless otherwise stated. I am not an angel. I am capable of error, and err on a fairly regular basis. If I made a mistake, please let me know (such as by replying to this node).
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