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How do I use Perl?

by Anonymous Monk
on May 16, 2002 at 20:47 UTC ( #167109=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Anonymous Monk has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

I'm just getting started. How do I use Perl?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
(jeffa) Re: How do I use Perl?
by jeffa (Bishop) on May 16, 2002 at 20:56 UTC
    First you need Perl installed on your system. If you use Unix/Linux, chances are good that it already is. Otherwise, goto If you use Win32, try ActiveState. If you use a Mac, try MacPerl.

    Once you have it installed, the first step to using Perl is to read perlman:perl. Also, check out for up to date documentation.

    To learn Perl, buy and read Learning Perl and hang out here.

    Good luck!


    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
      Great suggestions, jeffa.

      Don't forget that MacPerl is a 'Classic' application, meant for MacOS 9.x and earlier. See the thread, MacPerl for more on the subject. MacOS X fits in with your Unix/Linux statement - it is BSD-based, and it ships with Perl 5.6.0 installed.

      Don't get me wrong - MacPerl is great! Were it not for MacPerl a few years ago, I'd never have started learning Perl.

      Beyond that, I'd second cjf's thoughts at Re: How do I use Perl?

Re: How do I use Perl?
by munchie (Monk) on May 16, 2002 at 22:46 UTC
    First let me warn you that Perl is NOT CGI and Perl is not only for use on the Internet, Perl is probably most commonly used on a local system, not a web server. I recommend that you do not start with any books that have CGI in the title, because that will blind you from what Perl really is. I started with a book called "The Quickstart Guide to Perl/CGI on the World Wide Web." I thought I had a good handle on things until I found PerlMonks and realized that Perl is commonly run from a command line, that Perl and CGI are totally different things, and that the Internet (CGI) doesn't do Perl justice in 19 out of 20 cases.

    Once I got over the fact that I had learned the basics of Perl in all the wrong ways by an uncredible author, I turned to the monestary for information. I also bought Learning Perl, and when I had a good grasp on that, Perl Cookbook and Programming Perl. Don't jump the gun; don't try to learn Perl in a day because Rome wasn't built in one either. Make sure you thoroughly understand Learning Perl before you make the jump.

    Once you've learned the basics, and you're comfortable writing programs for everyday tasks, you can start to learn more specific things, with books such as Mastering Regular Expressions, Object Oriented Programming with Perl, Data Munging with Perl, Programming the Perl DBI, and Mastering TK Perl. Perl is very enjoyable and useful as long as you take it at the right speed.

    Look ma! I'm on CPAN!
    munchie does perl: my very own perl site

Re: How do I use Perl?
by cjf (Parson) on May 16, 2002 at 23:08 UTC
    How do I use Perl?

    Assuming you mean how do I learn to program in Perl, it is done by repeating two steps:

    • Read
    • Write

    Read - Find a good introductory book (Learning Perl is excellent), read it through to get a feel for the language.

    Write - as you're reading the book write small scripts to test out concepts as they are brought up. Then gradually build up to a larger project. If you can't think of ideas for projects, read Where the inspiration comes from ?.

    Read - As you're working on the project you'll need to refer to reference material often. Programming Perl is excellent for this. Other reference materials include module documentation at CPAN, perldoc, and of course, The Monastery.

    Repeat as necessary.

Re: How do I use Perl?
by bluto (Curate) on May 16, 2002 at 23:53 UTC
    I'm not much on open ended questions being front paged, and probably would have --'d it. I decided not to since this is a perfect example why perlmonks is 10x better than a newsgroup. The answers to this question are remarkable (at least the ones I've read so far) in that they aren't snide tirades about the asker's level of intelligence.

    Of course, if you don't believe me, try sending this question verbatim to c.l.p.m and wait for the replies. :-)


Re: How do I use Perl?
by Marza (Vicar) on May 16, 2002 at 21:31 UTC

    Depending on your programming background. You might want to wait diving through the DOCs and man pages. I didn't hit them till I was a little more versed

    Learning Perl is good but I think Simon Cozen's Beginning Perl is better for the beginning programer. If you have the background, then LP will be good.

    After you get your feet wet. Just play! Try out everything that sounds interesting!

      Funny, I found the Llama difficult to get through because of my programming background; I thought it was too beginner-oriented. Haven't seen Beginning Perl, so I can't really comment.

      If you already have a fairly strong programming background, I'd suggest the Camel book and some nice crunchy problems.


        Are we talking a developer or a guy who does programming from time to time?

        Usually the question of "I'm just getting started. How do I use Perl?" is a person who heard about it and wants to try it out, or a person who wants to be a system administrator and was told he has to know it, or a developer who wants to make a few things easier.

        But you are correct if you have a strong programming background, the Camel book is the better choice.

        But wouldn't you suggest the CookBook as well?

Re: How do I use Perl?
by hopes (Friar) on May 16, 2002 at 20:58 UTC
    start reading the documentation that perl offers to you:
    $ perldoc
    or may be start reading "Learning Perl" written by merlyn

    $_=$,=q,\,@4O,,s,^$,$\,,s,s,^,b9,s, $_^=q,$\^-]!,,print
      Definitely pick up a copy of Learning Perl. I've seen several people learn from that book successfully.
(crazyinsomniac) Re: How do I use Perl?
by crazyinsomniac (Prior) on May 17, 2002 at 02:57 UTC
Re: How do I use Perl?
by greywolf (Priest) on May 16, 2002 at 23:24 UTC
    Take a look here for a good thread about how to get started with Perl.

    First you must figure out your preferred learning style and go from there.

    mr greywolf

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