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Perl Monk, Perl Meditation

New Monks

by tachyon (Chancellor)
on Jun 09, 2001 at 02:01 UTC ( [id://87097] : perlmeditation . print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Welcome to the Monastery!

This node has been developed as a collaborative effort by the Perl Monks to help people who are new to Perl and may be unfamiliar with online forums. New posters to perl monks may (in the fullness of time) be sent a link to here to provide a useful entry point to all things Monastery and Perl. This is our attempt to help newcomers get the most out of the monastery and a language we love.


Monastery Specific Information

1. Instant answers for common Perl problems

Perl Monks has its own extensive Question and Answer section which has a different focus from the standard Perl FAQ. Most common perl coding problems are addressed in these two documents.

2. Please, please, please use the following

#!/usr/bin/perl -w # "-w" turns on all sorts of warnings about probable errors. 

use diagnostics;   # optional; causes warnings to be explained in greater detail.
use strict;        # generates compile and run-time errors for certain unsafe constructs.

3. Getting Answers

To get the fastest, friendliest, most useful answer we recommend you read these:
How to get the most of your question from the monks | Before You Post ...

4. Finding help

There are a number of resources at the monastery for new users:
Guide to the Monastery | Perl Monks Site FAQ | Tutorials

5. SuperSearch

Super Search is an online Perl Monks utility that allows you to comprehensively search the Monastery for answers.

6. Just who/what are Perl Monks?

Basically the Monks are a group of individuals from across the globe who share a common interest in Perl. All are welcome and experience levels range from novice to guru. Everyone gets a home node that they are free to decorate as they see fit. You may like to check out some of the home nodes of our resident gurus, they are as eclectic as Perl itself but contain a wealth of knowledge and experience. You will find them here: Saints in our Book. For extensive link lists try ybiC, merlyn, or outside links for starters.

General Perl Information

7. Do you want the latest version of Perl?

You can get a binary copy of Perl, ready to install, for almost any platform here. If you want to compile the source yourself go here.

8. Are you looking for a good editor, IDE, debugger, tutorial or book?

You will find an extensive list of editors/IDEs, books and more here.

9. Are you trying to get a CGI script working?

The web and CGI is probably the most common reason for people to discover Perl. The leading block of reusable code for CGI purposes is Good entry points to all things, and why you should be using it are: use CGI or die and no excuses for not using If you are having problems with a CGI script, look through CGI Help Guide and the idiots guide to CGI.

10. Are you checking the return values from the functions built in to perl?

Most of the file and system functions set $! and have return values that you can test thus:
open(FILE, "</file.txt") or die "Error opening /file.txt Perl says: $!\n";
$! will contain an error message that will give you more information on where your program is going wrong. The perlfunc man page will give you more information on the return values from functions.

11. Have you discovered all the free documentation?

As well as being a part of the standard Perl distribution (ie installed on your system with Perl) the man pages are available at the Library. Depending on you Perl distribution they may or may not be available in html format for ease of browsing. Read the installation documentation, look for /perl/html/index.html, or try typing "perldoc perldoc" at a command prompt.
Other excellent places to go for the online Perl documentation and tutorials are:

12. Have you dicovered the power of CPAN and Perl modules?

You may find there is already a Perl module to satisfy your needs. Many thousands of free reusable Perl modules are available for immediate download and use from CPAN - the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network. These modules provide code to do almost anything you can imagine, usually written by a person with specific expertise in that particular area. See the big list here for details.

Some of the benefits of using modules include speeding development time, and increased reliability. As many modules have been widely used many of the bugs have already been ironed out for you. Modules are generally updated with bug fixes so maintenance becomes as easy as installing the new module.

To get them working A Guide To Installing Modules and installing modules on Win32 may be helpful.


As of Jun 10, 2001 the following monks have all contributed to this document : tachyon, petdance, LD2, VSarkiss, jptxs, Vizjerai, Brovnik, ar0n , myocom, boo_radley, TStanley, perigeeV, converter, frag, ZZamboni, arhuman, mpolo, kudra, marcink, tilly, Abigail, Vynce, Lexicon, mpolo, Odud. Thank you all. Increasingly loosely based on a c.l.p.m. document by Nathan Torkington.

How could we possibly finish without a message from our 'sponsor' ;-)
Click here to check out our stuff (it's hot): Is there PerlMonks merchandise I can buy?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: New Monks
by frag (Hermit) on Jun 09, 2001 at 04:48 UTC
    Some thoughts:
    1. People have acquired the instinct to delete anything long that comes into their mailbox as a result of filling out a "sign me up" web form. So, I'd like to argue that this doc should be as lean, and as to the point, as possible. Don't try to explain or point out everything; that's an unreasonable goal for this sort of auto-sent welcome message. If a better introduction is needed, then maybe the PM FAQ or other doc pages should be revised.

      Or else, as perigeeV suggests, maybe it should be the page that pops up after creating a new user; label it "New Monk Info Page" and stick in the right column under "Information". Or even situate the link somewhere at the top of the home node of all users during their first 2 levels.

    2. Item #12 should top the whole list. Also, note that the first link under #12 makes all of item #3 redundant. Item #3 is fairly confusing in this context anyway.

    3. After #12 should come #9, followed by a combined list of links to FAQs and manpages under a generic and brief, "If you're looking for help, have you tried any of these sites yet?"

    4. After all the hubbub, you just can't leave out!

    5. The formatting on the links is a little mixed up in places. (I assume that you won't be sending HTML-format mail?) Here's what I'd recommend:
        name of URL, indented slightly (no tabs):
          full URL, indented slightly more, 
          maybe surrounded by one species of bracket or another 
          (if that won't break an HTML-based reader)
      This especially includes the Perlmonks node links that you've included.

    6. Is "have you read the man pages" really necessary? I'd have thought that Perlmonks was relatively obscure enough that to have found it, you'd already know about the existence of man pages. However, one thing that I have found to be obscure to some novices is the perldoc command; you should touch very briefly on this along with the FAQ/man stuff. (Even just a hint to try typing 'perldoc perldoc' would be great.)

    7. "Generating its own *superior* FAQ"...I don't want to knock Hubris, but I think this will come off as too smarmy for a greeting message.

    8. "At the risk of being branded a heretic" - I don't know if that's just your own parenthetical comment, but this should probably be dropped from the final message.

    9. I second the emotion: drop #13. Either completely, or replace it with a Saints link. Let them explore the Monastery in their own sweet time; if it matters to them, they'll come to know the Saints and their home nodes soon enough, and if it doesn't, it's just more noise in the message, drowning out signal.

    I hope this doesn't come off as too harsh. This is a good idea, but I just think it should be lean & mean; otherwise, most people won't give it the full attention it deserves. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to have this as a web page rather than (or in addition to) an email; that way, people can bookmark it (rather than losing it to the depths of their inbox, or automatically hitting the 'd' key), and people can merrily click away to browse all of those Perl/Perlmonks documentation sites before they jump into posting.

    -- Frag.

      Last point first. Definitely not too harsh. All good points. Many thanks for your time.

      1. Looks like the consensus is to send a link to a node on Perl Monks rather than a big spam mail. Link via password email, /msg, home node or in a prominent place on the site. New Monks Information Page is a good self explanatory title. The into has been re-worded to reflect its possible final position as a node here.

      2-3. I've reordered as you suggest with Monk stuff now first.

      4. Added the link to

      5. The linking is now consistent with Perl Monk links inlined and external links on their own line. Practical if not as pretty as you could get.

      6. I've changed the whole tone to a mellow and consistent Q&A style i.e.:

      Have you discovered the man pages yet?

      Followed by links to them and a few hints as to how to find the local ones for *nix and Win32 including perldoc.

      7. In line with new more mellow tone *superior* de-materialised into a cloud of sub atomic particles condemed to float forever in the endless null void of cyberspace. I didn't like it much either when I reread it.

      8. Heretical reference gone and replaced with a personal opinion.

      9. Saints link now under heading of "Just who/what are the Perl Monks?" with a suggestion why someone might care to visit their home nodes - good free stuff!

      As a node the requirement to be lean and mean is lessened but it still needs to be tight and to the point.

      Thanks again


        Looks good. My one remaining comment is that #4 still seems out of place under "Monastery-Specific Information". You're not providing enough context to the newbie by saying "Please^3 use the following". Maybe something like "Before you post, be sure that you've tried the following things", just list 'em, and point them again to How to get the most of your question from the monks for a more complete discussion.

        -- Frag.

Re: New Monks
by myocom (Deacon) on Jun 09, 2001 at 02:36 UTC
    This message is automatically sent to every new poster to perlmonks. You should only receive it once. My apologies if the auto-responder contacts you twice. This is our attempt to help newcomers get the most out of the monestry.

    How do you plan to "automatically" send this to every new poster? What is this auto-responder of which you speak? I understand that this document is simply a modification of the c.l.p.m document, but this terminology would confuse me in a web environment.

    13. You may like to check out some of the home nodes of our resident gurus, they are as eclectic as Perl itself but contain a wealth of knowledge and experience. Here are the top 13, ending with Adam.

    The top 13? Perhaps I'm nitpicky, but that seems particularly arbitrary to me. I wouldn't bother listing them individually, I'd just link to Saints in our Book. Besides, if the top 13 change (as they eventually will), the document will need to be updated.

      How do you plan to "automatically" send this to every new poster? What is this auto-responder of which you speak? I understand that this document is simply a modification of the c.l.p.m document, but this terminology would confuse me in a web environment.
      do you remember how you got your password? We have the technology, gentlemen. If Il Papa approves of putting more information in the initial password e-mail, perhaps the (lesser) synod of ninth and tenth level monks should start nominating their favorite faq-ish nodes, as well as things like outside links and so on. What do you think, vroom? Update Not much, apparently :)

      Although there is no auto responder currently implemented in the perlmonks (almost :-) Everything Engine all that you need to do is add some code like this:

      my $mail_prog = '/usr/sbin/sendmail'; # now assuning $new_user_email is the new user's email # and our text is in a file /welcome/message.txt # all we need to do is trigger this code concurrent with # the creation of a new user (when we get the email address) if ($new_user) { open TEXT, "</welcome/message.txt" or die "Oops $!\n"; local $/; my $welcome = <TEXT>; close TEXT; open MAIL, "|$mail_prog -t" or die "Oops $!\n";; print MAIL "To: $new_user_email\n"; print MAIL "Reply-to: <nobody\>\n"; print MAIL "From: Pelmonks\n"; print MAIL "Subject: Welcome to Pelmonks\n"; print MAIL "$welcome\n"; close MAIL; }

      Have edited the opening text to be more accurate of docs current status.

      I agree 13 is totally arbitrary, chosen only because I liked all the biblical conotations: 13 at the last supper, Adam, saints, monks.... Of the nodes listed some are IMHO far more useful than others but to avoid causing offence I just globbed a few in current rank order and linked to all the others. I would pick merlyn's and Ovid's home nodes as amongst the most useful to someone new to perl. By highlighting a few the idea was to incite a bit of interest. If you click on the first one merlyn you should be duly impressed and hopefully inspired to explore further.

      Chipmunk (14) has also noted that the list will change ;-) Practically it would be quite easy to have a short script with an SQL query auto-update this text, just as it does on the saints in our book node. Add it to the crontab and...there is no problem. Alternatively you could bite the bullet and nominate the best home nodes for New Monks (whatever you think that means) or do as you suggest and drop the personal glory for the current top 13 by just linking to Saints in our book



        Right, I realize there's no autoresponder in the Everything engine, and I realize that it's a simple matter to send mail from Perl.

        I guess it just seems to me that because of the fact that there isn't any such autoresponder and that Fearless Leader hasn't indicated that any such functionality is going to be added, you might be putting the cart before the horse, worrying about the wording of the document. Then again, I'm also of the opinion that a /msg to the new user with a link to a node with this same information would be more useful and less intrusive than sending them email.

Re: New Monks
by ZZamboni (Curate) on Jun 09, 2001 at 09:29 UTC
    I think it's a great idea to provide this document, but like frag, I think it should be made into a web page that appears after you create your account (and the password email should contain a link to it). I know I never read anything that comes in password emails: I just extract the information I need and delete or file it.


      I totally agree with this idea, as a modification I'd suggest to set the default user page to this text, this way there will be no more 'Empty user page' and it will render this text even more visible...

      So sad offering plate isn't added at the end...

      Anyway it's a GREAT IDEA

      "Only Bad Coders Code Badly In Perl" (OBC2BIP)
      I think this is the best option to avoid any spam-sensitivities that might be raised by receiving a mega email upon signup.

      We'll also have to run this through a spell-checker... Not "Monestry" but "Monastery".

        Fixed the Monastery and other typos.

        Looks like the consensus view is no big spam mail, but the basic idea is OK. Text changed to reflect this so this node becomes where we want to direct new monks. As has been noted there are three possible ways to do this:

        1. Send a link to here with the password email.

        2. Send a /msg to each new user with the link.

        3. Add a link to here to the new user's home node +/- an option to remove this link.

        I think all three might be the best to ensure it has a fair chance of being seen by those who may benefit. The password email will stay short, the /msg can be removed with a single click, and the link on the home node keeps it available and if an optional remove this link checkbox is included you can ditch that easily to. There are a host of options in the user settings config already.

        To test support for each of these options I have added three nodes, one for each option. I would invite you all to vote ++ for your preferred options, and - or nothing if you don't like them.

        Sure I may get a few extra XP from this - maybe I will get all the voting nodes reaped :-( but as they say 1,000,000 XP and 2 bits buys you a cup of coffee.

        If you want to vote without giving me XPs I have added a node where you can vote (-) to give me negative XPs to even the balance from voting.


Re: New Monks
by perigeeV (Hermit) on Jun 09, 2001 at 04:01 UTC
    Random thoughts:
    Spellcheck Monestry. It is Monastery:)

    This is emailed? Should it just be the page that's served after creating a new user? Either would be fine by me, but I think some people have a problem with large mailboxes.

    Perhaps a friendly request-for-use to Nathan Torkington. Can't hurt to be polite.

    At the risk of lengthening a long doc perhaps, at the end, we could throw vroom a bone and mention Buy Stuff

    I of course bow to wiser heads. ++tachyon and all involved.

      Spellcheck. Check. I never cood spell good!

      No this documant has no status whatsoever at the moment. I have changed the opening text to reflect this. It is an RFC (Request For Comment) as it were.

      I agree with the suggestion to email Nathan Torkington for permission to R&D (Rip off and Duplicate) his work, and have done so with a link to here. I expect that by the time we finish there will be little of the original left, except the concept and the major external links.

      Added a bone to check out the general feeling, I for one could live without getting another message from our sponsor. Ever!

      Thanks for the feedback


      The easiest way to remember the correct spelling is to think of the word "monastic" (of or relating to monasteries).

      When I get lost on the spelling of a word which is usually pronounced in such a way that the vowels are not emphasized and are therefore not as easy to remember (is it a, e or u?), I try to recall a derivative (derivation) where the pronounciation makes the proper spelling obvious.

Re: New Monks
by TStanley (Canon) on Jun 09, 2001 at 03:55 UTC
    Also, as another consideration, this could be sent to all users when they create their account, since the password is automatically emailed to the address given when the user signs up.

    There's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us
    about this script for Hamlet they've worked out
    -- Douglas Adams/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Re: New Monks
by marcink (Monk) on Jun 10, 2001 at 18:47 UTC
    This message is a very good idea. I do, however, have two comments:

    1. I agree with all the others who already pointed that this text is a bit too long. All the informations are helpful, but hardly anyone will bother to read it the first time they see it. And after that there will be no point to read it, since 'I've already seen that'.
      How about breaking the text into smaller chunks and displaying them in a nodelet or as a quip?
    2. I would add something like this at the very beginning (or at least very close to it):
      Having problems with your code? Go to #9 and save yourself a lot of time. Honestly.

Re: New Monks
by tachyon (Chancellor) on Jun 09, 2001 at 19:01 UTC

    I like the one line link to this node in the password email idea

    Vote ++ - or don't vote to have your say.

Re: New Monks
by tachyon (Chancellor) on Jun 09, 2001 at 19:04 UTC

    I like the link to this node on the home node idea

    Vote ++ - or don't vote to have your say.

Re: New Monks
by tachyon (Chancellor) on Jun 09, 2001 at 19:39 UTC

    I think this is a cunning plot by tachyon to get some quick XPs so am voting (-) for this node to balance things out!

      I voted ++ on this because it made me laugh. But I'm not going to vote on the other 3 because<self-righteous> I don't believe in using all my votes just to get XP.</self-righteous>


      Imagine a really clever .sig here.

Re: New Monks
by tachyon (Chancellor) on Jun 09, 2001 at 19:02 UTC

    I like the link to this node in the /msg idea

    Vote ++ - or don't vote to have your say.

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