We begin our journey through Perl by taking a little stroll. This stroll presents a number of different features by hacking on a small application. The explanations here are extremely brief; each subject area is discussed in much greater detail later in this book. But this little stroll should give you a quick taste for the language, and you can decide if you really want to finish this book rather than read some more Usenet news or run off to the ski slopes.
Let's look at a little program that actually does something. Here is your basic "Hello, world" program:
#!/usr/bin/perl -w print ("Hello, world!\n");
The first line is the incantation that says this is a Perl program. It's also a comment for Perl; remember that a comment is anything from a pound sign to the end of that line, as in many interpreter programming languages. Unlike all other comments in the program, the one on the first line is special: Perl looks at that line for any optional arguments. In this case, the -w switch was used. This very important switch tells Perl to produce extra warning messages about potentially dangerous constructs. You should always develop your programs under -w.
The second line is the entire executable part of this program. Here we see a print function. The built-in function print starts it off, and in this case has just one argument, a C-like text string. Within this string, the character combination \n stands for a newline character. ...