Among other things, this book is about 260 pages long. It is also a gentle introduction to Perl. By the time you've gone through this book, you'll have touched on the majority of the simpler operations and common language idioms found in most Perl programs.
This book is not intended as a comprehensive guide to Perl; on the contrary, in order to keep the book from growing unmanageably large, we've been selective about covering only those constructs and issues that you're most likely to use early in your Perl programming career.
As a prelude to your more advanced study, however, we've included a heavier chapter at the end of the book. It's about CGI programming, but along the way, it touches upon library modules, references, and object-oriented programming in Perl. We hope it whets your appetite for these more advanced topics.
Each chapter ends with a series of exercises designed to help you practice what you have just read. If you read at a typical pace and do all the exercises, you should be able to get through each chapter in about two to three hours, or about 30 to 40 hours for the entire book.
This book is meant to be a companion volume to the classic Programming Perl , Second Edition , by Larry Wall, Randal L. Schwartz, and Tom Christiansen, published by O'Reilly & Associates, the complete reference book on the language.
Initially designed as a glue language under the UNIX operating system, Perl now runs virtually everywhere, including MS-DOS, VMS, OS/2, Plan 9, Macintosh, and any variety of Windows you care to mention. It is one of the most portable programming languages available today. With the exception of those few sections related to UNIX systems administration, the vast majority of this book is applicable to any platform Perl runs on.