Perl is a family of two high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming languages. "Perl" refers to Perl 5, but from 2000 to 2019 it also referred to its redesigned "sister language", Perl 6, before the latter's name was officially changed to Raku in October 2019.[9][10]

ParadigmMulti-paradigm: functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based), reflective
Designed byLarry Wall
DeveloperLarry Wall
First appearedFebruary 1, 1988; 33 years ago (1988-02-01)[1]
Stable release
  • 5.34.0[2] / 20 May 2021; 4 months ago (2021-05-20)
  • 5.32.1[3] / 23 January 2021; 7 months ago (2021-01-23)
Preview release
5.35.4[4] / September 20, 2021; 2 days ago (2021-09-20)
Typing disciplineDynamic
Implementation languageC
LicenseArtistic License 1.0[5][6] or GNU General Public License[7]
Filename extensions.plx, .pl, .pm, .xs, .t, .pod, .cgi
Influenced by
AWK, BASIC, C, C++, Lisp, sed, Unix shell[8]
CoffeeScript,[citation needed] Groovy,[citation needed] JavaScript, Julia, LPC, PHP, Python, Raku, Ruby, PowerShell

Though Perl is not officially an acronym,[11] there are various backronyms in use, including "Practical Extraction and Reporting Language".[12] Perl was developed by Larry Wall in 1987 as a general-purpose Unix scripting language to make report processing easier.[13] Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions. Raku, which began as a redesign of Perl 5 in 2000, eventually evolved into a separate language. Both languages continue to be developed independently by different development teams and liberally borrow ideas from each other.

The Perl languages borrow features from other programming languages including C, shell script (sh), AWK, and sed;[14] They provide text processing facilities without the arbitrary data-length limits of many contemporary Unix command line tools.[15] Perl 5 gained widespread popularity in the late 1990s as a CGI scripting language, in part due to its unsurpassed regular expression and string parsing abilities.[16][17][18][19]

In addition to CGI, Perl 5 is used for system administration, network programming, finance, bioinformatics, and other applications, such as for GUIs. It has been nicknamed "the Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages" because of its flexibility and power,[20] and also its ugliness.[21] In 1998, it was also referred to as the "duct tape that holds the Internet together," in reference to both its ubiquitous use as a glue language and its perceived inelegance.[22]

Perl is a highly expressive programming language: source code for a given algorithm can be short and highly compressible.[23][24]