What is Perl? - The QTP Knowledge blog
Perl is a programming language. Perl stands for Practical Report and Extraction Language. You'll notice people refer to 'perl' and "Perl". "Perl" is the programming language as a whole whereas 'perl' is the name of the core executable. Some of Perl's many strengths are:
Speed of development: You edit a text file, and just run it. You can develop programs very quickly like this. No separate compiler needed. I find Perl runs a program quicker than Java, let alone compare the complete modify-compile-runoh- no-forgot-that-semicolon sequence.
Power: Perl's regular expressions are some of the best available. You can work with objects, sockets...everything a systems administrator could want. And that's just the standard distribution. Add the wealth of modules available on CPAN and you have it all. Don't equate scripting languages with toy languages.
Usuability: All that power and capability can be learnt in easy stages. If you can write a batch file you can program Perl. You don't have to learn object oriented programming, but you can write OO programs in Perl. If auto incrementing nonexistent variables scares you, make perl refuse to let you. There is always more than one way to do it in Perl. You decide your style of programming, and Perl will accommodate you.
Portability: On the Superhighway to the Portability Panacea, Perl's Porsche powers past Java's jaded jalopy. Many people develop Perl scripts on NT, or Win95, then just FTP them to a Unix server where they run. No modification necessary.
Editing tools: You don't need the latest Integrated Development Environment for Perl. You can develop Perl scripts with any text editor. Notepad, vi, MS Word 97, or even direct off the console. Of course, you can make things easy and use one of the many freeware or shareware programmer's file editors.
Price: Yes, 0 guilders, pounds, dmarks, dollars or whatever. And the peer to peer support is also free, and often far better than you'd ever get by paying some company to answer the phone and tell you to do what you just tried several times already, then look up the same reference books you already own.
What can I do with Perl ?
Just two popular examples :
Go surf. Notice how many websites have dynamic pages with .pl or similar as the filename extension? That's Perl. It is the most popular language for CGI programming for many reasons, most of which are mentioned above. In fact, there are a great many more dynamic pages written with perl that may not have a .pl extension. If you code in Active Server Pages, then you should try using ActiveState's PerlScript. Quite frankly, coding in PerlScript rather than VBScript or JScript is like driving a car as opposed to riding a bicycle. Perl powers a good deal of the Internet.
If you are a Unix sysadmin you'll know about sed, awk and shell scripts. Perl can do everything they can do and far more besides. Furthermore, Perl does it much more efficiently and portably. Don't take my word for it, ask around. If you are an NT sysadmin, chances are you aren't used to programming. In which case, the advantages of Perl may not be clear. Do you need it? Is it worth it?
After you read this tutorial you will know more than enough to start using Perl productively. You really need very little knowledge to save time. Imagine driving a car for years, then realising it has five gears, not four. That's the sort of improvement learning Perl means to your daily sysadminery. When you are proficient, you find the difference like realising the same car has a reverse gear and you don't have to push it backwards. Perl means you can be lazier. Lazy sysadmins are good sysadmins, as I keep telling my boss.
A few examples of how I use Perl to ease NT sysadmin life:
User account creation: If you have a text file with the user's names in it, that is all you need. Create usernames automatically, generate a unique password for each one and create the account, plus create and share the home directory, and set the permissions.
Event log munging: NT has great Event Logging. Not so great Event Reading.
You can use Perl to create reports on the event logs from multiple NT servers.
Anything else that you would have used a batch file for, or wished that you could automate somehow. Now you can.
To learn more on Perl or VbScript and maybe a continue the series on Perl follow the link below:
Source: What is Perl? - Sandip