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I am a complete beginner who knows nothing about Perl, and nothing about programming, where do I start?

perldoc perlintro

This means that you should enter perldoc perlintro on the command line, or failing that, you can you read the perlintro page at perldoc.perl.org

The perlintro page shows you how to build and run your first program, how Perl handles comments and whitespace, quoting conventions and Perl variable types. It introduces you to most of the syntax of the language, file I/O, regular expressions and writing subroutines. It also points you to other perldoc pages for more exhaustive treatment of the topics it introduces.

Simon Cozen's book, Beginning Perl at learn.perl.org

This beautifully laid out book assumes nothing from the reader, and ensures that every concept required by the novice is covered.

It takes you in wonderful detail through the challenge of understanding what a program is, how it is made and how to run it. Best of all, the entire book is available free of charge online, (like Perl itself). There is also a printed version that you can buy.

However, if you already understand most of the concepts covered in the introductory chapters, the balance of the book covers more advanced topics in greater and greater detail. The author succeeds in maintaining a balance throughout the book that is not often achieved in introductory texts. Instead of the entire book being pitched at an annoying 'Learn language X in 24 hours' style, the content just gets richer and richer, but not at too fast a pace for the novice working his or her way patiently through the chapters.

perldoc perltoc

This document shows a simple table of contents for all the perldoc files. Read though it. ie: type perldoc perltoc on the command line.

This is the best way to get a feeling for the richness of the standard Perl documentation. As you'll discover, Perl is not a language documented by a program spewing out thousands of souless class descriptions, this is living language documented in a variety of styles, with syntax descriptions, data type descriptions, tutorials, faqs, "quick starts" and documents devoted to language internals.

See also

Run the command perldoc perldoc for more information on the perldoc command itself.

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