Learning Perl

In February I started an Open University degree in Computing. During my first module I had to learn some basic Javascript for a couple of assignments. I have been wanting to learn some programming for ages now but as usual it got left by the wayside with the new job and life in general. That is until it was forced upon me by my studies. It didn’t take me long to pick up the code in course materials and I ended up finishing the two Javascript assignments two months early as I just had so much fun with it.

As I had two months free before my course caught up with me I decided I’d look at starting to learn another language. I asked around and was suggested Perl by Jordan’s step dad, Dave. He’s fairly biased due to the fact that he is huge Perl evangelist but I thought I may as well as there is a huge amount of free material around and the Perl community seem like a very fun group.

I started off reading a few chapters of Beginning Perl by Simon Cozens. Whilst it had the definite advantage of being free I felt that the style didn’t really suit my learning. It was also in .PDF format and I am too cheap and environmentally conscious to print out 400 pages so it wasn’t the most convenient learning resource. Preferring to have a book I can carry around sans computer, I ventured online and bought Learning Perl published by O’Reilly.

This book felt like a much better match for me. Over the last few weeks I’ve been reading it in my lunch breaks and for an hour or so after work. I’ve been through it once and I’m just going back round and going over everything again to make sure everything gets stuck in. Of course I don’t think that I’ll be able to remember everything straightaway but I think reading the book through  two or maybe three times will stand me in good stead for the next step.

I actually really enjoyed my first go through the book. I found myself getting excited about what the next chapter would bring and the sense of achievement that comes from figuring out how to complete each of the exercises makes you want to charge through. The pace is excellent. I’m fairly techie but my programming knowledge leaves a lot (not alot) to be desired and I never felt like I was being left behind. A few passages might have had to be read twice but I put that down to my lack of experience with the Unix command line in most cases.

From here it looks like I’ll be moving on to Intermediate Perl which is the most logical step. Once that’s done I’m curious about looking at the Perl DBI module which allows Perl to talk to databases. As I’m training to be a database administrator at the moment I think that tool may just come in handy one day.

It’s really exciting to have such a huge amount of potential knowledge out there to learn and explore. My only regret it not trying this out earlier. Things might have been very different had I actually put the effort in as a teenager…

Anyway… onwards!

5 thoughts on “Learning Perl

  1. Do look at DBIx::Class early on in your explorations of DBI. It makes some database things rather more convenient.

  2. Have a look at SQL::Abstract too, it’s a very nice way of organising your queries and makes interacting with db’s a doddle, even when you don’t need a full object relational mapping provided by DBIx::Class (which uses SQL::Abstract itself to describe searches, etc)

    Another really nice tool is Template Toolkit.. an amazing way to create and populate templates.

    Finally there is the hidden gem that is the perl 5 wiki at : http://www.perlfoundation.org/perl5/

  3. Thank you everyone for your book and module suggestions. Once I’m a little more comfortable with the basics I’ll definitely be looking into them.

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