In your first week of teaching yourself Perl, you'll learn enough of the basics to write many useful Perl programs. Although some experience in using a programming language will be an advantage as you read this book, it is not required. In particular, you don't need to know the C programming language before you read this book.
To use this book effectively, you should be able to try out some of the features of Perl as you learn them. To do this, you should have Perl running on your system. If you don't have Perl, Day 1, "Getting Started," tells how you can get it for free.
Each chapter of this book contains quiz and exercise questions that test you on the material covered in the day's lesson. These questions are answered in Appendix A, "Answers."
The first week covers the essentials of Perl. Here's a summary of what you'll learn.
Day 1, "Getting Started," tells you how to get Perl, how to run Perl programs, and how to read input from your keyboard and write output to your screen.
Day 2, "Basic Operators and Control Flow," teaches you about simple arithmetic, how to assign a value to a scalar variable, and how to control execution using conditional statements.
Day 3, "Understanding Scalar Values," teaches you about integers, floating-point numbers, and character strings. It also shows you that all three are interchangeable in Perl.
Day 4, "More Operators," tells you all about operators and expressions in Perl and talks about operator associativity and precedence.
Day 5, "Lists and Array Variables," introduces you to lists, which are collections of values, and to array variables, which store lists.
Day 6, "Reading from and Writing to Files," tells you how to interact with your file system by reading from input files, writing to output files, and testing for particular file attributes.
Finally, Day 7, "Pattern Matching," describes pattern matching in Perl and shows how you can substitute values and translate sets of characters in text strings.
This is quite a bit of material to learn in one week; however, by the end of the week you'll know most of the essentials of Perl and will be able to write many useful programs.