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What Is Perl and How Is It Used?

written by: Brandy A Burgess•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 2/25/2010

Perl is a useful, yet complex programming language created in 1987. Learn how Perl got its name and its main uses.

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    Perl is a general purpose UNIX scripting programming language that was developed in 1987 by Larry Wall. The language has many distinct versions with new ones being created to suit the needs of programmers. With a large number of resources and libraries, Perl is one of the most commonly used languages on the web.

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    What Does Perl Stand For?

    Perl's Unofficial Symbol is the Camel Perl, which stands for Practical Extraction and Report Language, is a powerful text processing facility provider that makes report processing easier. The name Perl is derived from the Gospel of Matthew in the Parable of the Pearl. The symbol that unofficially represents the Perl language is the camel which comes from the Perl Instruction Manual, written by O’Reilly Media.

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    What Is Perl?

    Perl programming can be used for a variety of tasks. Typically, Perl is used to extract information from various text files. It can also be used to convert text files into other file types, as well as numerous other jobs. Not only can this programming language accomplish simple tasks, but it also provides tools for a number of complicated issues, such as systems programming.

    The syntax of Perl includes C, sh, sed and awk and it’s quite useful in UNIX system administration, utilities, report generation and internet forms. When Larry Wall created this compiled scripting language, he wanted to have as little restrictions as possible to put the programmer at ease.

    Perl as a programming language carries many strengths:

    • Usability: Perl is easy to learn and can accommodate your learning style as it can be done in several different ways. Object oriented programming is not needed with Perl.
    • Development: Perl runs quickly and the programmer is able to create programs more quickly than with similar languages such as Java. The programmer can edit text files and run the program with no compiler needed.
    • Tools: Perl fits any situation as the programmer can use any text editor to develop Perl scripts. Microsoft Word, old or new version, Notepad, or various freeware can be used to edit your program.
    • Power: Perl has a large number of modules available and programmers are able to work with sockets, objects and any other scripting that may be needed.
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    Where Is It Used?

    Today you can find the programming language, Perl, in applications such as genetics, military, manufacturing and finance. Perl is used to create CGI scripts and you can find it in high traffic websites such as Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon.

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    Perl is one of the most popular and well used programming languages used on the World Wide Web today. It has come a long way and is continuing to up its standards to provide programmers with an easy to use language that is able to complete a large amount of both small and large tasks.