Possessed of a name that stands for "Practical Extraction and Report Language" -- or maybe not -- Perl has expanded from its humble beginnings to let users perform a wide variety of tasks. Before you can use it to do any of those tasks, however, you must install it. That is the focus of this article, the first in a series that will teach you the basics of Perl programming.
Perl started off as a language to make creating reports simpler. Since then it has grown in scope, allowing users to perform all manner of tasks, including web development, system administration, network programming, graphical user interface creation, and much, much more.
Before we learn to do any of that however, we must learn how to install it.
For Windows users, the simplest method is using ActivePerl (created by ActiveState). You can find it here: ActivePerl (you have to sign up as a member first). Scroll down to the Windows (x86) section and click on the MSI link. After downloading the file, double-click on it to install.
This will open the ActivePerl Setup Wizard. Click on the Next button to continue.
The next window will be ActivePerl's EULA (End-User License Agreement). If you accept the terms of the agreement, choose that option and click the Next button. If not, then quit reading this tutorial, stand up, bend at the waist, and run head first into the nearest wall.
Next, you will be allowed to customize your setup. You can do so, or just use the default settings. If you want to see how much space the program will take and how much you have available (and in total for that matter), click the Disk Usage button. When you are finished goofing around, go ahead and click the good old Next button again.
Again you will be taken to an Optional Setup window. Leave everything at its default value and click Next.
Finally, click the Install button. The setup wizard will start installing files and wrecking up the place, turning over tables and smashing lamps. Go ahead and let it run wild. After the Setup Wizard gets tired, you will see a window telling you that ActivePerl is finished setting up. Click the Finish button and you are all set.