Is Perl Scripting or Programming Language?


Angela Bailey

Is Perl Scripting or Programming Language?

Perl is a powerful and versatile language that has been widely used for scripting purposes. However, it is also considered a full-fledged programming language by many developers. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of Perl and delve into the debate of whether it is primarily a scripting language or a programming language.

The Nature of Perl

Perl was originally developed by Larry Wall in the late 1980s as a scripting language for system administration tasks. Its primary goal was to make it easy to write short, concise scripts that could manipulate text files and automate common tasks.

Scripting Language Characteristics:

  • Interpreted: Perl scripts are executed directly without prior compilation.
  • Dynamically Typed: Variables do not require explicit type declarations.
  • Regular Expressions: Perl has built-in support for powerful pattern matching using regular expressions.

Programming Language Features

Over time, Perl evolved and gained additional features that expanded its capabilities beyond traditional scripting. Today, it incorporates various programming language features that make it suitable for developing complex applications.

Programming Language Characteristics:

  • Data Structures: Perl supports arrays, hashes, and other data structures commonly found in programming languages.
  • Subroutines: It allows the creation of reusable code blocks through subroutines or functions.
  • Object-Oriented Programming: Perl provides object-oriented programming (OOP) support through modules like Moose and Moo.

The Debate

The distinction between scripting languages and programming languages is often subjective and can vary depending on individual perspectives. Some argue that Perl’s roots as a scripting language make it more suitable for quick, one-off tasks, while others emphasize its extensive features and consider it a full-fledged programming language.

Ultimately, the categorization of Perl as a scripting language or a programming language is not mutually exclusive. It is both a scripting language and a programming language, capable of handling both simple scripts and complex applications.


Perl’s versatility and flexibility allow it to be used for a wide range of purposes, from small scripts to large-scale projects. While it originated as a scripting language, Perl has evolved over time to incorporate many features commonly associated with programming languages. Therefore, it is fair to consider Perl both a scripting and programming language.

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