3.Perl Editor

Education is not limited to just classrooms. It can be gained anytime, anywhere... - Ravi Ranjan (M.Tech-NIT)

Perl scripts or Perl programs are just simple text files. You can use any kind of text editor to create them, but you should not use any word processor. Let me suggest a couple of editors and IDEs.

BTW this article is part of the Perl tutorial.


You can also watch the video about editors and IDEs.


Editor or IDE?

For Perl development you can either use a plain text editor or an Integrated Development Environment, also called IDE.

First I'll describe the editors on the major platforms you might use, and then the IDEs which are usually platform independent.


Unix / Linux

If you are working on Linux or Unix, then the most common editors used there are Vim and Emacs. They have very different philosophy, both from each other, and from most of the editors out there.

If you are familiar with either one of those, I'd recommend using them.

For each one of them there are special extensions or modes to provide better support for Perl, but even without those they are very good for Perl development.

If you are not familiar with those editors, then I'd probably recommend you separate your Perl learning curve from your editor learning experience.

Both of those editors are very powerful, but take a long time to master.

It is probably better to focus on your Perl studies now, and only later to learn one of these editors.

While they are native to Unix/Linux, both Emacs and Vim are available for all the other major operating systems.


Perl editors for Windows

On Windows, many people are using the so-called "programmer's editors".


  • Ultra Edit is a commercial editor.
  • TextPad is share-ware.
  • Notepad++ is an open source and free editor.

I have been using Notepad++ a lot and I keep it installed on my Windows machine as it can be very useful.



I don't have a Mac but according to popular vote, TextMate is the most often used Mac specific editor for Perl development.


Perl IDEs

Neither of the above are IDEs, that is, neither of them provide real, built-in debugger for Perl. They also don't provide language specific help.

Komodo from ActiveState costs a few hundreds of USD. It has a free version with limited capabilities.

People who are already Eclipse users might want to know that there is a Perl plug-in for Eclipse called EPIC. There is also a project called Perlipse.


Padre, the Perl IDE

In July 2008 I started to write an IDE for Perl in Perl. I called it Padre - Perl Application Development and Refactoring Environment or Padre, the Perl IDE.

Many people joined the project. It is distributed by the major Linux distributions and it can also be installed from CPAN. See the download page for details.

In some aspects it is still not as strong as Eclipse or Komodo but in some other, Perl specific areas it is already better than the other two.

Moreover, it is very actively developed. If you are looking for a Perl editor or a Perl IDE, I'd recommend to give it a try.


The big Perl editor poll

In October 2009 I ran a poll and asked Which editor(s) or IDE(s) are you using for Perl development?

Now you can go with the crowd, against the crowd, or you can pick a perl editor that fits you.



Alex Shatlovsky recommended Sublime Text, which is a platform independent editor, but one that costs some money.



Then next part in the tutorial is a small side-step to talk about Perl on the command line.