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Introduction to Perl Nov 1993



Introduction to Perl Nov 1993

What is Perl?
Perl has become the new language of choice for many system management tasks.
Combining elements of C, awk, sed, grep, and the Bourne shell, Perl is an excellent
tool for text and file processing. Although Perl is often described as a ``system
management language'', it is useful for many tasks that would otherwise be done
with shell scripts.
``Perl'' is an acronym for Practical Extraction and Report Language. It was
developed by (and is still maintained by) Larry Wall of Netlabs. It is freely
available software and compiles on nearly all major architectures and operating
systems. These include all the major UNIX 1 variants as well as VMS and even
Perl contains features of the Bourne shell (/bin/sh), awk, sed, and grep as
well as access to systems calls and C library routines. It is said that Perl fills the
niche between shell scripts and C programs.
Perl is not a compiled language but it is faster than most interpreted languages.
Before executing a Perl script, the perl program reads the entire script into
memory and ``compiles'' it into a fast internal format. In nearly all cases, a Perl
script is faster than its Bourne shell analogue. Note that by convention, one refers
to the Perl language in upper case and the perl program in lower case.
This document is intended to be an overview of the major features of Perl and
does not describe every facet of the language. Much more extensive reference
materials are available. These references, as well as pointers to example scripts,
are detailed at the end of this document.

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