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New to Perl

by hexed (Initiate)
on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:07 UTC ( #17662=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

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

I have no experience with Perl and would like to learn it. I would appreciate it if someone could tell me where I should start. Thanks.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: New
by lhoward (Vicar) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:11 UTC
    Probably the best place to start off is Learning Perl by Randal L. Schwartz (he frequents perlmonks as merlyn). Perl comes with a large amount of documentation that would also help det you started. If you already know how to program in other languages you may want to jump in with Programming Perl (also by merlyn).
Re: New
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:40 UTC
    If you've never programmed before, Elements of Programming with Perl is an excellent primer for both Perl and programming in general. (Hey, they even quote me on that page!)

    Best introductory book I've ever read. (Though the other answers are excellent too.)

RE: New
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:46 UTC
    This is a tough one. I know that many people are keen on Learning Perl, but I had a bit of difficulty with it. I felt that some sections (hashes and regex) needed more robust examples before I felt I had a hand on them -- don't tell merlyn :). These are so basic to Perl that I felt they needed a more in-depth discussion. Of course, none of the languages that I had worked with prior to Perl supported either of these, so it may be a case of my being an idiot.

    Perl: The Programmer's Companion is an excellent book, if you have plenty of programming experience under your belt. Also, Chapman's constant use of use English; makes common operators like $_ very unfamiliar to people to haven't used it before. (Yes, I took that straight from a review, but I also have the book and agree with that review 100%)

    If you'd like to research books for yourself, check out some book reviews by Tom Christiansen.

(jcwren) RE: New
by jcwren (Prior) on Jun 12, 2000 at 17:09 UTC
    I can tell you this, from years of experience. You can read every book written, mull every FAQ, and ponder every newsgroup, but until you actually start writing code, none of it will make a lot of sense.

    Along this line, trying to learn a language without a project in mind seems to be futile. The best way that I've found is to pick something interests you, that's not too complicated (for instance, don't start off by trying to write a Perl Monks Monastery script), and that will hold your interest for a while. Maybe something like a catalog for your CD's or books, or a phone number/contact database. Start small. Think about how to break the project into phases. Begin with a data entry method. After that (seems) to work, worry about storing data to a file or database. Then think about creating reports, or making the data available via your brower.

    Don't forget that not everything you do in Perl has to be browser related. Thousands of scripts run every day that never see the light of Netscape (For instance, I have a script that reads my weather station every 10 minutes, and stuffs the records into a database. A different script displays the weather).

    Don't be discouraged when it doesn't work, but don't beg for help before you notice you mistyped the word 'print' as 'rpint', and got a compiler error.

    These are all what I consider to be basic maxims of learning any new langauge, be it Perl, C, Forth, or assembly.

RE: New
by a (Friar) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:43 UTC
    Sorry, tried to get this into the chatterbox, but I'm a little new at this (perlmonkeying) too.
    I hear that the book: Elements of Programming w/ Perl is very good, there's a review in the last The Perl Journal (a good magazine too), w/ info at It is a how-to program, w/ perl as the example language. I learned perl from the included docs, like the man said above, it was a lot of huh? until suddenly I got it (or a start on it) seeing how perl was designed to make certain stuff easier. My first formal language (after basic) was pascal, but I think Perl'd make a great start in the business. If you can churn out html, you've got enough to start w/.


Re: New
by Zoogie (Curate) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:36 UTC
    Aside from the obvious (i.e., Randal Schwartz's books), I've grown quite attached to the Perl Core Language Little Black Book (Coriolis Press, Steven Holzner) as a reference.

    And of course, Categorized Questions and Answers as well as PerlFaq are good resources for getting your questions answered.

    - Zoogie

Re: New ( depends on experience, objectives)
by ybiC (Prior) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:46 UTC

    I'm hardly qualified to reply after a pro like lhoward, but I think it depends on your existing programming abilities and what you want to accomplish using Perl. Only a year ago, I picked up Perl as my first programming since basic in college 15 years ago.

    I needed to parse dial-up access router log files, so I bought "Mastering Regular Expressions", "Learning Perl", and the "Perl Cookbook" all from O'Reilly. Within a month I added "The Perl CD Bookshelf". With those titles under my belt, the included Perl docs and Web resources like Perl Monks make a lot more sense for other modest scripts I cobble.

    If you already grok other programming languages (which I don't), I imagine there are better ways to get started in Perl. This is just what worked for me.


RE: New
by dempa (Friar) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:18 UTC
    I read Programming Perl as my first Perl book. The first time I read it, there were many questions unanswered. The second time though, the pieces really started to fit the puzzle. So if you at first don't understand what the heck is going on, relax... :) It gets better. I promise. :)
Re: New
by Apterigo (Scribe) on Jun 13, 2000 at 01:59 UTC
    I'll throw my 2 cents in here too. I think you definetly want to take a look at Learning Perl, Programming Perl, and definetly once you've gotten things down, check out the Perl Cookbook (a personal favorite). When it really comes down to it though, you really need to just jump in and start writing scripts.

Re: New
by Orion (Initiate) on Jun 12, 2000 at 22:13 UTC
    I think what Chris says makes a lot of sense. I am a newcomer to Perl and I am loving every moment of learning it.I started off with checking login names & passwords & writing records to a file and then a database. I know it sounds very basic, but it was a good beginning.
Re: New
by btrott (Parson) on Jun 12, 2000 at 07:27 UTC
RE: New
by BigJoe (Curate) on Jun 13, 2000 at 02:10 UTC
    I recommend any of the O'Reilly Perl books. I would probably get one of the sets of O'Reilly books. I know Barnes and Nobles has a CD set of the books for a resonable price and has a set of Perl books. Either of these two sets contain all the books I currently have and the cost on the sets are very good.


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