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Back to Scripting Basics – Revisiting PERL as Software Tasks are Addressed 15 - March - 2008

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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It has been a few years since I’ve done any serious coding, to say the least.

From those heady days when I could move my programing off the Harris Mainframe and work right on a Columbia MPC Portable (really “luggable” as it was a beast) working at home at a cottage in the Penine Mountains using Turbo Pascal 1.0, Turbo C and Turbo Prolog I’ve only occasionally returned to program design, or to be honest mostly task-orientated scripting.

The Original Turbo Pascal Logo

click on logo for link

Now that I have identified a handful of Shack Automation projects the decision as to what environment to code or script with has to addressed in the here & now.

Cross-Platform Ability has become important with three operating systems in use in the K9ZW shack – Windows XP, Apple OS-X 10.5 and Linux.

After looking through various options – Tom KC9JGD’s Microsoft Visual Suite (purchased as part of a course he took) and others, I’m leaning towards PERL.

Perl Logo

click on logo for link

As it says the the Perl Tutorial by Doug Sheppard:

“Perl is the Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages: powerful and adaptable. It was first developed by Larry Wall, a linguist working as a systems administrator for NASA in the late 1980s, as a way to make report processing easier. Since then, it has moved into a large number of roles: automating system administration, acting as glue between different computer systems; and, of course, being one of the most popular languages for CGI programming on the Web.

Why did Perl become so popular when the Web came along? Two reasons: First, most of what is being done on the Web happens with text, and is best done with a language that’s designed for text processing. More importantly, Perl was appreciably better than the alternatives at the time when people needed something to use. C is complex and can produce security problems (especially with untrusted data), Tcl can be awkward and Python didn’t really have a foothold.

It also didn’t hurt that Perl is a friendly language. It plays well with your personal programming style. The Perl slogan is “There’s more than one way to do it,” and that lends itself well to large and small problems alike.”

and for the PERL FAQs:

“Perl builds and runs on a bewildering number of platforms. Virtually all known and current Unix derivatives are supported (perl’s native platform), as are other systems like VMS, DOS, OS/2, Windows, QNX, BeOS, OS X, MPE/iX and the Amiga.”

So a quick dash to Amazon.com and I’ve got the benchmark standard PERL book on its way – “Programming Perl”

Programming Perl

click on cover for link

Looks like this should be able to cover all the bases I want to cover at this time in my shack, and as OS-X has PERL included I’m ready to go.

I’ve some SQL database training coming up this month, and a series of lighter scripting projects to finish up (mostly either in the “File Maker” script environment or in “Crystal Writer” report designer.

Wish I had the same view of the low mountains, sheep & stone walls – complete with my old local pub – as when I earned part of my grad school costs coding & scripting. But today’s better tools are some consolation.

73

Steve
k9zw_logo1.png

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