Gentle hands-on introduction to Perl programming

Trainer Guy Bottu


  • Learning the basics of Perl programming: different variables, reading files, writing files, regex.
  • Being able to write small scripts to parse text files
  • Using Perl in windows.


This course is organised over two full days. With this extensive hands-on session, we introduce you Perl. The first day,we will cover the basics of Perl programming: what is a variable, different types, how to assign values to variable, what can you do with them, strings, arrays and hashes. Logic statements will be discussed, Everything will be demonstrated with step by step exercises. At the end of the day, you will be send home with some challenges to do yourself and additional learning material. As a homework, you may write a program to analyze your own data. On the second day of the training, we will look to the solutions of the homework and explain the results of the tasks. We will dig a little deeper in good programming hygiene, and create some more complex scripts using regexes and reading in files. By the end of the day, a firm basis for perl programming should be established to allow further self-study.


This course is aimed for people with no programming skills whatsoever. BITS provides 15 laptops for their training sessions. Depending on the number of participants (max 20), it is possible that you have to share the laptop with one other participant but you can also choose to bring your own laptop for this training session.


See the TRAINING AT VIB website for a detailed schedule of this training.

Training material


Installing Perl

  • ActiveState offers Perl and a lot of Perl libraries. On the training we will use the 5.16 version of ActivePerl.
  • TextPad is a free text editor for Windows that supports Perl. You can download it from Cnet. Search for TextPad and download the 6.2.2 version.
  • Installation instructions for ActivePerl and TextPad.

Both Perl and TextPad will be installed during the training. 

Quick Reference Guides


  • Robert's Perl Tutorial a good tutorial on how to start with Perl: basics, comparisons, user input, arrays, hashes, deleting variables, regular expressions, split and join, files, reading directories, sorting, grep and map, external commands, subroutines, modules, debugging, logical operators
  • The Perl Beginner's site: a well-written basic step by step guide: basic output (hello world), expressions, variables, input, for and while loops, conditionals, arrays
  • Beginner's introduction to Perl: functions, statements, numbers, strings, quotes, variables, comments, loops
  • Introduction to MySQL and Perl: MySQL, using Perl to query, create and modify MySQL databases


oreillylearningperlBeginningPerlForBioinformaticsMasteringPerlForBioinformaticsbookcover - if nothing visible, please contact BITSPerlAndUnix

Scientific topics Software engineering
Target audience Life Science Researchers, PhD students, post-docs, beginner bioinformaticians