There is ongoing work on {threads},

Unicode, exceptions, and backtracking. Perl program files can contain embedded documentation in POD (Plain Old Documentation), a simple markup language.

The normal Perl distribution contains documentation for the language, as well as over a hundred modules (program libraries). Hundreds more are available from The Comprehensive Perl Archive Network. Modules are themselves generally written in Perl, but can be implemented as interfaces to code in other languages, typically compiled C.

The free availability of modules for almost any conceivable task, as well as the fact that Perl offers direct access to almost all system calls and places no arbitrary limits on data structure size or complexity, has led some to describe Perl, in a parody of a famous remark about lex, as the "Swiss Army chainsaw" of programming.

The use of Perl has grown significantly since its adoption as the language of choice of many web developers. CGI interfaces and libraries for Perl exist for several platforms and Perl's speed and flexibility make it well suited for form processing and on-the-fly web page creation.

Perl programs are generally stored as text source files, which are compiled into virtual machine code at run time; this, in combination with its rich variety of data types and its common use as a glue language, makes Perl somewhat hard to classify as either a "scripting language" or an "applications language" -- see Ousterhout's dichotomy. Perl programs are usually called "Perl scripts", if only for historical reasons.

Version 5 was a major rewrite and enhancement of version 4, released sometime before November 1993. It added real data structures by way of "references", un-adorned subroutine calls, and method inheritance.

The spelling "Perl" is preferred over the older "PERL" (even though some explain the language's name as originating in the acronym for "Practical Extraction and Report Language"). The program that interprets/compiles Perl code is called "perl", typically "/usr/local/bin/perl" or "/usr/bin/perl".

Usenet newsgroups: comp.lang.perl.announce, comp.lang.perl.misc.

["Programming Perl", Larry Wall and Randal L. Schwartz, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. Sebastopol, CA. ISBN 0-93715-64-1].

["Learning Perl" by Randal L. Schwartz, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., Sebastopol, CA].

[Jargon File]

Last updated: 1999-12-04

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ss} name. There is ongoing work on {threads},umentation for the

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