Perl Programming

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Perl 5 By Example David Medinets
Extreme Programming in Perl Robert Nagler
Picking Up Perl Bradley M. Kuhn
Web Client Programming with Perl - Automating Tasks on the Web Clinton Wong
Practical mod_perl Stas Bekman, Eric Cholet
Object Oriented Perl Manning Publications
Beginning Perl Simon Cozens

Non-Book Resources

Perl is a dynamic programming language created by Larry Wall and first released in 1987. Perl borrows features from a variety of other languages including C, shell scripting (sh), AWK, sed and Lisp.

Structurally, Perl is based on the brace-delimited block style of AWK and C, and was widely adopted for its strengths in string processing, and lack of the arbitrary limitations of many scripting languages at the time.

Larry Wall began work on Perl in 1987, while working as a programmer at Unisys,[3] and released version 1.0 to the comp.sources.misc newsgroup on December 18, 1987. The language expanded rapidly over the next few years. Perl 2, released in 1988, featured a better regular expression engine. Perl 3, released in 1989, added support for binary data.

Until 1991, the only documentation for Perl was a single (increasingly lengthy) man page. In 1991, Programming Perl (known to many Perl programmers as the "Camel Book") was published, and became the de facto reference for the language. At the same time, the Perl version number was bumped to 4, not to mark a major change in the language, but to identify the version that was documented by the book.

Perl 4 went through a series of maintenance releases, culminating in Perl 4.036 in 1993. At that point, Larry Wall abandoned Perl 4 to begin work on Perl 5.

Initial design of Perl 5 continued into 1994. The perl5-porters mailing list was established in May 1994 to coordinate work on porting Perl 5 to different platforms. It remains the primary forum for development, maintenance, and porting of Perl 5.

Perl 5 was released on October 17, 1994. It was a nearly complete rewrite of the interpreter, and added many new features to the language, including objects, references, packages, and modules. Importantly, modules provided a mechanism for extending the language without modifying the interpreter. This allowed the core interpreter to stabilize, even as it enabled ordinary Perl programmers to add new language features.

As of 2006, Perl 5 is still being actively maintained. Important features and some essential new language constructs have been added along the way, including Unicode support, threads, an improved support for object oriented programming and many other enhancements. The latest stable release is Perl 5.8.8.

One of the most important events in Perl 5 history took place outside of the language proper, and was a consequence of its module support. On October 26, 1995, the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network was established. The CPAN is an FTP archive for the distribution of Perl modules and the sources, binary distributions, and documentation of Perl itself. Several interfaces for using it more effectively have been built on top of it, chiefly an automatic module installer included with Perl, and a web-based search engine and documentation browser. At the time of writing, it carries over 10,000 distributions (packages of modules). The CPAN is widely regarded as the greatest strength of Perl in practice.