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Roads to Perl

by gunzip (Pilgrim)
on Aug 29, 2005 at 20:39 UTC ( [id://487551] : perlmeditation . print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I'd like to hear how other Perl monks discovered the language as my road to Perl was a little indirect.

I was coding front end web pages with HTML, CSS & Javascript and gravitated to Dreamweaver 4 for most of the work. It had a search and replace tool which I thought was pretty neat in those days but to use the advanced options you had to know this mini-language called 'regular expressions'. I was directed to Jeffrey Friedl's authoritative "Mastering Regular Expressions" and soon realised that Perl was THE language for wielding this potent tool. I realised I needed to make the decision to learn a 'real' programming language but part of me was convinced that there was a brighter future in learning Java. Soon I had books on Java and Perl before me but there was only room for one language as I'm a slow learner.

The battle raged for about a month during which I was slogging away with the ugly Java Swing library and AWT by day and relaxing with Larry Wall's "Programming Perl" by night. I soon realised that I was looking forward to the evening sessions with Larry Wall as a release from the tedium of banging my head against the brick wall of Java. Perl was fun.

So, the Java books were eventually put to one side and began gathering dust. The bookshelves have gradually filled with Perl titles and I enjoy the culture which is unique to Perl. Emacs also replaced Dreamweaver eventually but that's another story

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Roads to Perl
by Joost (Canon) on Aug 29, 2005 at 23:44 UTC
    I started out writing in MSX basic on a friend's sony hit-bit home-computer (remember when they called 'em that?) when I was 10 years old. Anyway, a few years later I bought a commodore 64, and programmed a lot of basic on that thing too, and I learned a bit of assembly.

    A while later I sold my C64 to be able to afford an amiga 500. Wrote a lot of assembly on that thing - great machine: real multi-tasking (but no memory protection) and dedicated cpu's for graphics and sound. It's still sitting in my living room - but I don't use it much anymore. It's probably the last machine I did any serious gaming on - somewhere I decided that programming was just more fun :-)

    Then (1993) I went to university where I studied Artificial Intelligence - so I learned a few new programming languages; pascal (hated it), prolog (wonderful, but too specific to be useful as an all-round language) and C (which I though was OK, but not that much better than assembly; I've come to appreciate it more and more over time). This was also the time I first ran into UNIX and the internet, (and vi and emacs (-: ). The WWW was just starting around then. I also bought a windows PC and coded some C++ stuff (mostly soft-synths - i.e. software sound synthesizers).

    The last few years at uni, I started working at an web-development company (from the beginning of the commercial WWW to boom to bust) where I learned a lot of new stuff - HTML/CSS/assorted web-development, perl, PHP, a little VB, unix shell scripting, MSDOS batch stuff, Java, company politics and a little more C. Somewhere in 1999 I switched from windows to linux as my main OS for professional development. It took some time to get used to but boy was it worth it.

    Now, I am a freelance programmer/consultant. I run almost exclusively linux now (except for testing stuff on Internet Explorer and a few audio programs). Most of my professional work is in java, which can be a terribly frustrating language - though I certainly learned a lot from getting to grips with it. When the language isn't fixed for some reason (i.e. 50% of the project isn't already done) I still prefer perl most of the time, but I am also taking a serious look at ruby - it feels like a "new, clean perl" - unlike python, for example - I can't even read python, I wish I knew why.

      I can't even read python, I wish I knew why.

      The conclusion I came to when I dabbled in Python was that it was important to think like Guido. Which, it seems, I don't. Fortunately, it is not necessary to think like Larry to understand Perl -- which is a good thing, because I don't think many of us could manage.

      If I tried Python again now, I might do better. At the time, my primary experience with OO was through Inform (which sets a very high standard for how useful the paradigm should be in the language). OO is pervasive in Python, and I was not accustomed at the time to thinking that way about every problem, or most problems. Now, having done OO in Perl5 (which does *not* meet Inform's standard of how good the OO in a language should be), I've learned to deal with OO stuff in a language other than Inform, and so if I tried Python again, I might do better.

      But, now I am so deeply comfortable in Perl, that Python would have to offer something really compelling to lure me away, and with Perl6 on the horizon, I doubt that's possible. In other words, I could probably learn Python now, but I no longer want to.

        The conclusion I came to when I dabbled in Python was that it was important to think like Guido. Which, it seems, I don't. Fortunately, it is not necessary to think like Larry to understand Perl -- which is a good thing, because I don't think many of us could manage.
        Very nice way to concisely express the difference between Python and Perl: indeed it does make sense, for in the former "there should be only one way to do it", then it's (practically) obvious that it must be Guido's way, whereas in Perl we all now that TIMTOWTDI by design.

        Also, Perl is eclectic and multiparadigmatic by design too. And while we're at it, Perl6 will be even more so (even too much, some people fear!).

Re: Roads to Perl
by Old_Gray_Bear (Bishop) on Aug 30, 2005 at 01:21 UTC
    I came into Perl via a sysadmin path. It's 1995 and My Company was 'right-sizing', and decided that they didn't need five main-frame system programmers (after all they just sit around all day and read computer manuals....). Three of us were told that we had 90 days to find a position within an other group, or "it's been nice....". Real Sweet.

    There was a Unix-Admin II position open in the Mail Services division, and so I went there. I really didn't know Unix (Solaris 2.6), but the Manager told me "I can teach you Unix, I can't teach you how to solve problems. I want you as my Bug Hunter." A couple of months later we got hit by one of the Mail-born viruses that were so popular in the mid-90's. I got handed the 'spam-guard' script and told "Find the filter logic in this and add another trap for the Virus!", while everyone else ran around shutting down servers, trying to limit the damage. I managed to do in about five minutes (Look for stuff I knew we were blocking, Cut and Paste and change the search pattern), and we restarted the the filter on one of the backup mail-servers. It cut our new-infection rate to zero with in the first five minutes so we rolled it out to the other external Mail Servers. We spent the next 72 hours cleaning up the pieces of all the internal servers and peoples desktop machines. We had two re-infections (people taking their laptop home and then bringing it back into the building), but the revised filters did just what they were supposed to.

    When we were finally breathing normally again (about a week later), I asked my boss "What WAS that language? That 'filter' looks like an explosion in a type-factory." She said "It's Perl. It's a right powerful tool, but we don't have anyone on staff who really can really write it." "Oh", I said.

    It has been all up-hill from there.

    I Go Back to Sleep, Now.


Re: Roads to Perl
by Tanktalus (Canon) on Aug 29, 2005 at 23:59 UTC

    I started with an Atari 400 with a BASIC cartridge. ;-) I didn't progress past BASIC for another 8.5 years until I hit university. There they forced me to learn ForTran. Yuck.

    From there, I taught myself C the summer before I took Pascal. Boy were pointers hard - I spent 2 months learning the rest of C to the point of being comfortable with it, and 2 months on pointers alone. But that was with just a couple of books and a C compiler. Then Pascal was easy.

    Then I got a job doing ForTran to C conversions. This is where I got that last statement in Re^2: How to implement printf like functions from - after "porting" one ForTran program to C, I told them to just give me the input, the output, and I'd write everything in between. Worked better that way. During this job, I taught myself C++ at home.

    Next co-op term, I got a C++ coding job. And I learned Delphi. And Windows API coding. Somewhere in here, I taught myself REXX - ticked off my boss that I still was using OS/2 at home ;-)

    Then I eventually(!!!) graduated. In this job, I've used C (including Windows API coding), C++, REXX (on OS/2 - impressed the heck out of my team lead with my REXX skill for a new graduate!), Java (to stay away from Windows) and then unix shell script (primarily Bourne shell, with as little C shell as I can get away with). It was in this time where I was making large changes to shell scripts where I discovered perl's one-liners. I was trying to get stuff done with awk and sed, but found perl just a tiny bit easier to write, learn, and code with.

    Since then, all my other language skills have atrophied from lack of use... :-)

      I started with an Atari 400 with a BASIC cartridge. ;-) I didn't progress past BASIC for another 8.5 years until I hit university. There they forced me to learn ForTran. Yuck.
      It seems that many people here have had their first programming experiences with BASIC, something which I expected, taking into account personal experiences from other people I know. I, for one, did never own a Commodore vic20, nor a C64 or an amiga. I did learn some Pascal at high school, which has its own shortcomings and in which I would never program again, but which at least introduced me directly to structured programming.

      Unfortunately I were to be... unfortunate enough (to have) to have my encounter with BASIC. It was at my first university year, and it was the time of 486s and the first generation of Pentiums, but... our graceful Institution gave us a buch of 8088s to program in their ROM-based gwbasic... quite awful! ;-)

      The rest of the story: Re: Roads to Perl

Re: Roads to Perl
by jpeg (Chaplain) on Aug 29, 2005 at 21:58 UTC
    I started with AppleScript back in the 90s. As I had to work with Windows and 'nix machines, I thought, "well, perl's a scripting language. How tough can it be?"

    I learned with perldoc and the ActiveState mailing lists for a few years. Finally I picked up the Camel and started making progress.

      I second the Camel book as a break-though experience in learning perl. I'd wrestled with perl for two years before I read the book and it gave such an insight in the language and its philosophy. I believe that unless you're a very experienced programmer, you just can't learn to be a really good perl programmer if you haven't read it.

        I second the Camel book as a break-though experience in learning perl. I'd wrestled with perl for two years before I read the book

        I credit the fact that the Camel book was at the center of my first attempts to learn Perl with the real love that I developed for the language.

        I tend to charactarize languages based on the experience I had learning them. The languages for which I've initially picked up documentation that was excellent (especially Inform and Perl, also BASIC (the ITT Advanced BASIC manual), and to some extent Emacs Lisp) are languages that I love; the languages that I've tried to learn with poor documentation (C, C++, VB, PHP) I have hated and continue to avoid. There are also languages that I dislike on their own merits (CoBOL, Lingo), but the languages I *really* loathe are the ones I tried to learn from poor documentation. The one I hate most (C++) I tried three times to learn, with three different pieces of documentation, all three of which were bad.

        So anyway, when I wanted to learn Perl, I asked around on the internet, "Hey, I'm a CS grad and program in several languages, but I want to learn Perl, what book should I get?", and several people said to get the Camel book, and I did, and lo, it was good.

        "In adjectives, with the addition of inflectional endings, a changeable long vowel (Qamets or Tsere) in an open, propretonic syllable will reduce to Vocal Shewa. This type of change occurs when the open, pretonic syllable of the masculine singular adjective becomes propretonic with the addition of inflectional endings."  — Pratico & Van Pelt, BBHG, p68
Re: Roads to Perl
by Nkuvu (Priest) on Aug 30, 2005 at 00:27 UTC
    First introduction to Perl was in college. For a group project in a UI class the task was to create a nice interface to some C programs used for BLAST gene stuff (have no idea what the programs do, it's been many moons since then). The UI was to be web based, and Perl was the glue. Long story short, the C programs were compiled on a Solaris machine, and transparently (to us) copied to a RedHat web server. So I spent a long tme trying to debug the IPC::Open module in Perl, when it wasn't a Perl problem at all. It left a bad taste in my mouth, so I didn't touch Perl for a while.

    Second exposure was a few years ago in a professional setting. Someone had a script to run a suite of tests (about 700 tests in all) distributed across four machines. The author was assigned to a different project, and I inherited the script. Re-read the Llama book, then much of the Camel book, then started visiting here. Perl is now my most often-used language (even though Perl is not part of my job decription).

Re: Roads to Perl
by GrandFather (Saint) on Aug 30, 2005 at 00:09 UTC

    I wanted to port a few Word documents to TWiki. I knew that Perl was the answer for this sort of problem, so I learned it. I've since use Perl for a large number of tasks, particuarly to bash stuff into shape as part of automated build processing.

    I'm still to complete the Word HTML to TWiki converter, but I will one day real soon now :)

    Perl is Huffman encoded by design.
Re: Roads to Perl
by pg (Canon) on Aug 30, 2005 at 04:02 UTC

    If you hate Swing and AWT, you have every reason to do so, as it is ugly in all sense: GUI is ugly, coding is also ugly. That's exactly why C# is killing Java on the client side application. One may claim that Swing runs on all platforms, yes but who cares! Most of the client application runs on Windows.

    But Swing is just a small unseccessful piece of Java, and overall Java is a nice language and it definitely worthes one's time to learn. Even if you are not prepared to use it daily, it still opens a window for you and allows you to have some fresh air.

Re: Roads to Perl
by tphyahoo (Vicar) on Aug 30, 2005 at 06:15 UTC
    I was cleaning up some dirty database data (microsoft access). Took forever to do it by hand, so started learning regexes with the Regex Coach toy. Pretty cool, so I then started using using vb script regexes on the access data. Problem was, Regex Coach was a PCRE regex toy, and vbscript regexes aren't PCRE, eg, no lookahead/lookbehind, etc etc.

    Dotnet was coming out then, and dotnot had PCRE regexes, so I spent a month or so reading MSDN, trying to figure out how to write a dotnet component that could be accessed through VBA... ugh... trying to mentally justify spending the money to buy visual studio... ugh ugh ugh... generally being depressed.

    Then I had a minor PCRE regex question, asked it on perlmonks, got an answer, I think within seconds. The right answer. :)

    Still here...

Re: Roads to Perl
by g0n (Priest) on Aug 30, 2005 at 09:12 UTC
    IIRC I'd been given a project to do, writing some additional functionality for a VB app. My knowledge of VB was limited to VBA. A colleague (who had originally written the VB app in question) had a project to extend the functionality of a cgi/perl based LDAP performance monitor. We arranged to swap projects because I did at least understand CGI & LDAP, if not perl.

    He loaned me "CGI Programming in perl", and once I found out how easy both CGI and LDAP were in perl, I was hooked.

    After that it was a little while before I encountered regexes - some of my early scripts located text delimiters using code like this:

    my $counter=0; my $var; while ($var ne "#") { $var = substr($string,$counter,1); $counter++; }

    After I discovered regexes, I was even more impressed by perl, and it rapidly became my #1 tool for sysadmin scripts etc. In the last two or three years I've started to approach perl as a programming language, rather than just a tool for writing easy scripts, and once again it never fails to impress.


    g0n, backpropagated monk

Re: Roads to Perl
by philcrow (Priest) on Aug 30, 2005 at 13:34 UTC
    I started adulthood as a teacher of Math at a small college. I had done some programming in college, even working for the college writing database programs for the registrar's office. Our classroom language was Pascal, but we also taught ourselves C. Macro-11 helped with pointer understanding.

    When my Math department would not slow down to a reasonable load, I started thinking of a career switch. Knowing that Pascal was out, I bought a book on C++ and the Camel.

    The C++ book presented a language with a fortress mentality where I would have to be ever on gaurd against the other programmers who were practically trying to subvert and ruin my work.

    From the preface of the Camel, I fell for Perl. Larry was so sure I was going to be able to use his language well, though of course he couldn't be proud of everything I've tried to do with it. He urged me to think of fellow programmers as allies, not enemies. He promised not to laugh at my code, at least not more than he'd laugh at a child learning a language. Well you've read the rest.

    Hertz Rent-A-Car hired me to answer Unix trouble calls. Then they asked me to write some Perl code. Eventually, they decided I wasn't an admin (rather obvious actually) and moved me to an application development group as a Java programmer (they still don't think Perl is a real application language, only COBOL and Java are).

    Consultants came to teach the ways of Java. They liked to factor everything down to tiny methods spread over dozens of classes. Thankfully I was working on other things, like configuring rt.

    My wife graduated and did a postdoc in Johannesburg. That ended. listed an opening at a cable company as a Perl/mod_perl Guru. I like that, but the actual title turned out to be Programmer, just as well. Now I write LAMP apps (where m is mod_perl and p is postgres).


Re: Roads to Perl
by Limbic~Region (Chancellor) on Aug 30, 2005 at 12:10 UTC
    I was working in a shop that wrote a lot of shell scripts (ksh, sed, awk, etc). When conferring with a cow orker about the difficulty of log rolling due to calculating some date in the past, a passerby said "use perl". When I got back to my desk, I googled - found PerlMonks, and the rest as they say is history.

    Cheers - L~R

Re: Roads to Perl
by greenFox (Vicar) on Aug 30, 2005 at 05:52 UTC

    You are not the first one to ask this question see my reply there for how I got into Perl. (As an aside it is scary the way every last thing is "remembered" on the internet, I'm really not a sycophant!!!).

    Murray Barton
    Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought. -Basho

Re: Roads to Perl
by jonadab (Parson) on Aug 30, 2005 at 13:10 UTC
    Emacs also replaced Dreamweaver eventually but that's another story

    I came from the other direction: Emacs lisp was the language I'd been using the most, but there was this little problem: elisp is *great* for doing stuff that requires user-interaction anyhow, but for fully automating things, it leaves something to be desired. Running an Emacs lisp script from a cron job, for instance, is theoretically possible but a real pain. Before elisp I'd been using QBasic and Inform, but there are things you can't do with Inform, and QBasic is missing some useful high-level structures and has some unfortunate limitations on program size. I could have moved to QuickBasic, but I had student loans to pay and was feeling cheap, and in any case QuickBasic seemed to be something Microsoft was phasing out (in favour of VB, which I already knew I hated), so it didn't feel like the right future for me.

    I was also in the process of making other transitions. The thing that lead me to Emacs was the need for an editor that was cross-platform. I'd been playing around with Linux, in a multiboot setup, but it was hard to get anything useful done without a knowing how to use a text editor. I couldn't even navigate and read files in vi (this was on Debian 1.3, and vi didn't understand the cursor keys out of the box), but in Emacs at least most of the cursor keys worked (although home and end did catastrophically wrong things) by default. So I picked up a copy of NTEmacs and installed that on my Windows 95 system and started learning it in my spare time. I downloaded a copy of the Gnu Emacs Lisp Reference Manual, and I was on my way to platform independence. Eventually I also had to learn Gnus, so that I could ease myself off of Pegasus Mail. Once I gave up Pegasus Mail, there was no longer any reason to boot into Windows.

    That's another reason I chose Perl. It was inherently cross-platform, and people who used multiple OSes spoke well of it. I knew I could write stuff in Perl under Windows and take it with me to Linux, with only minor changes (e.g., changing hardcoded filepaths). (Later I learned to write so that no changes were necessary.)

    "In adjectives, with the addition of inflectional endings, a changeable long vowel (Qamets or Tsere) in an open, propretonic syllable will reduce to Vocal Shewa. This type of change occurs when the open, pretonic syllable of the masculine singular adjective becomes propretonic with the addition of inflectional endings."  — Pratico & Van Pelt, BBHG, p68
Re: Roads to Perl
by delegatrix (Scribe) on Aug 30, 2005 at 13:20 UTC
    In the early 90s I worked as a cartographer using mostly C and X/Motif to build online mapping software. I needed an application to allow users at 12 regional offices to print maps from any office's server to any printer. A friend of mine said "Hey, why not use perl?" And thus my first perl-based web app was born. I sometimes think how different my life would be, both personally and professionally, had that suggestion been different.
Re: Roads to Perl
by danmcb (Monk) on Aug 30, 2005 at 14:21 UTC

    I'd also been thorugh the Basic, C, assembler stages (started off as a hardware/systems guy, long time back).

    If I'd known perl back in the early days, it would have made a lot of difference. Anyhow, I was making the slow transition from hardware to software and got to work with a guy who had used Perl to write scripts for processing boundary scan (BDSL) files and running some kind of home grown JTAG tester (this will be Greek to you unless you have a hardware background). Anyhow, I had to peer in those scripts and so got introduced. The guy was very smart, I got on with him, and he obviously dug the language, so that sparked my interest.

    Didn't really get a chance to follow through until I found myself with some downtime, and got into CGI scripting. And then by chance, Perl came in very handy at my next job as a tool for writing C++ code generation scripts. It all just carried on from there.

    I am quite curious about Python and Ruby too, will probably take a peek if the chance comes along. Perl is a wonderful language, but there are other good ones too. One day a project will come along that's already in one od those langs, and off we go again ... it's all good in my book ...

Re: Roads to Perl
by duff (Parson) on Aug 30, 2005 at 15:45 UTC

    I started with BASIC (TI 99/4a, Commodore, Apple, and other such systems in the early 1980s). About 1985 or 1986 I got my first Intel-based system with DOS and so started using GWBASIC (at least I think that's what it was called back then). Then one day my dad brought home this magazine he was getting for free at work called "Dr. Dobb's Journal" and suddenly I realized that the world was a much bigger place :)

    From there I learned pascal and then after dabbling with that for a year or two I taught myself C by translating the programs in DDJ from one language to the other. Then I went to a university and learned about this wonderful new language called C++. Then in the early 1990s I started playing with unix-based systems and learned vi, sed, shell, awk, and all of the other nifty tools you get with unix.

    In 1992 I got a student job at a research organization where they used perl for data processing and so I had to learn perl. I had only just bought the AWK book a few months earlier, but once I started hacking perl, I don't think I ever touched awk again except for the occasional one-liner or to maintain some one else's code.

    In 1993 I bought the pink camel and I have been using perl regularly ever since. I didn't transition to perl5 until 1996 but I've thoroughly enjoyed perl since the moment I started seriously programming in it.

Re: Roads to Perl
by liverpole (Monsignor) on Sep 05, 2005 at 13:33 UTC
    I came from a C background (having done mostly BASIC and Pascal in college).  I'd been meaning to learn Perl for several years, but hadn't found the right approach to fully immersing myself in it.  I had already fallen in love with Linux, using it at home while using Unix at work.

    The thing that gave me the chance to learn Perl was a job-switch; I joined a company that needed a toolsmith, and within a few weeks was using Perl constantly.  One colleague had written some useful utilities in Expect and Tcl/Tk, and I persuaded him to switch over to Perl.  It became second nature to download any modules we needed from CPAN (perl/Expect, perl/Tk, etc.), and I found myself reading all I could about Perl in my spare time.

    Every job I've had since then has been primarily programming Perl!

Re: Roads to Perl
by exussum0 (Vicar) on Aug 30, 2005 at 20:43 UTC
    When I was 16, my first job was working in artificial intelligence for my boss. I helped him implement genetic algoithms in c. I understood the broad concept, but he explain what he needed done: particular data manipulations, file maint.. it was fun. It was where I learned to write real life things for someone else for my first time.

    At the same time, I was a big OS/2 person. It was fun. And the web started to take off back then. Back when irc was cool, or is it not? Anyway, I had a huge ass database bot-related data to give a web interface to. I wrote it in C. It was neat.

    Eventually, I grew tired of doing things in C (18) for the web, and heard that perl was good at that, for my next project. CGIc was cool, but even using the non-perl-module way of doing it was simpler than CGIc. Thus, I learned perl4 and 5, since there was a transition between the two and needed.

    Man, I still remember getting pissed about TMTOWTDI, specifically:

    print "1";
    print 1;
    Update: Added some other info.

    Give me strength for today.. I will not talk it away.. Just for a moment..
    It will burn through the clouds.. and shine down on me.

Re: Roads to Perl
by samizdat (Vicar) on Aug 31, 2005 at 18:06 UTC
    Way back in 1997, I was introduced to a little 486 machine installed by a consultant that was acting as our company mail server, firewall, web and ftp server, and a bunch more things I can't remember now. It was running this amazing stuff called FreeBSD (v2.0.5 at the time) and the consultant showed me how to get around. I'd never managed to get closer to UNIX than Kernighan and Pike (gee, that's neat stuff!) or a serial port (the other guy was the 'senior' s/w engineer), so I dove in and took over, fascinated by both Perl and BSD. Bosses wanted additions to the transaction-processing website (designed by an outside company and I was cheaper), so I learned Perl CGI coding. Perl led to Expect and Tcl and a whole bunch more. Since most of my career has been embedded device programming, it was a while before I got back to Perl, but it's doing amazing things for my job rep once again!
Re: Roads to Perl
by Hue-Bond (Priest) on Sep 08, 2005 at 20:52 UTC

    The first match at grepping my diary for /perl/i shows January 31, 1999. I don't know where my interest came from, nor when I heard "Perl" for the first time. Four days later I tried my first script, that looks pretty decent to me even today.

    Some months later I grabbed one of those "Learn X in 21 days" tutorial on Perl and began to code with confidence. Didn't do much with it (lame IRC bots, technical analysis of stock quotes) until recently when I subscribed to clpmisc and began to take it more seriously. Now everytime I have to do something, sooner or later I try it in Perl even if it's not the most appropriate language for the task.

    Some days ago I created an account in PM and this is in fact my first post here. I'm looking forward to cp many megs of knowledge into my brain!

    David Serrano
Re: Roads to Perl
by blazar (Canon) on Sep 03, 2005 at 13:26 UTC


    As briefly hinted in Re^2: Roads to Perl, my first programming language has been Pascal, taught at high school -- an experimental course, back then. Later on I felt I had to learn C and C++ too, and I bought Borland's Turbo C++ for DOS, which was the cheapest one available, that I knew of... but then for over a decade I abandoned it completely. When I came to Linux I started giving a peek into it again, but couldn't really get the hang of it.

    In those early days, surprising as it may be, the language in which I was regularly programming in was the RPN based one of my HP-28s pocket calculator. And I must say, in full earnestness, that I was quite proficient with it. I still like it, although I only use it sporadically now and I'm not that skilled anymore.

    Then I had my unpleasant encounter with BASIC, also described in Re^2: Roads to Perl. Nothing else to say about this...

    I also learnt some markup languages, although these probably won't count in this list for many of you! Most notably, LaTeX, and I think that - also thanks to te kind contributors of ctt - I never got those bad habits so many of which are so widespread in that area. I must admit though, that while on the one hand I can write decent, well-structured documents and I'm aware of many useful packages, on the other one I haven't the slightest of the required skills to do anything really "advanced" with the underlying TeX engine.

    After having come to Linux, "of course", I couldn't help learning some shell scripting, and I know it not that bad, but I'm sure there could be a lot to learn about it. But who cares? Now I use Perl to accomplish any task that at fisrt sight is not suitable for the shell... and also many that could be suitable for it!!


    The story of how I actually entered in contact with Perl is described here: My first approach to Perl. How has been yours?, at which node I started a thread that happens to be fundamentally a duplicate of this one, which I hadn't noticed...

Re: Roads to Perl
by ranjan_jajodia (Monk) on Sep 06, 2005 at 10:11 UTC
    I was assigned to write a program(any language) which would login into a particular email service accounts (of course the correct username and password would be given :-) ) and check the user profile settings, inbox etc. I was given two days to decide what and how to use. Analysing the requirments I knew the language of choice had to:
    1) have good support of regular expressions to scrap data from html pages
    2) have support and added features for making https requests
    3) have good support on the internet as I would be new to the language.
    Within a day I had zeroed down to Perl which had all of these and the next day I became a member of Perl Monks. :-)