SPUG: RE - using ActivePerl coming from UNIX land

David Innes (CSG) davidinnes at chicagoscience.com
Wed Dec 22 18:31:13 CST 2004

Hi Brian,  

As Dave Coleman says, ActivePerl is plain old Perl compiled for the Windows
platform.  There are some differences but they're very slight.

1) As Dave mentions the underlying systems are different.  ActivePerl does a
pretty good job masking those differences (e.g. you can still use forward
slashes to denote folders in paths even though the Windows system uses
backslashes.)  That only goes so far, of course.  If there's simply no
corresponding system call (e.g. wait and certain file-test operators) you're
out of luck.  On the bright side, though, in Windows you get to use
Win32::OLE, and that gives you well-structured and complete access to almost
all modern Windows applications.  Unless you'll be working on Win9x systems
you can also use Perl to drive WMI, which provides a consistent interface to
almost everything else. 

2) ActivePerl now implements a version of Fork using(in Windows new threads
are fast, new processes are slow) but I've never used it.  

3) Since Windows uses file extensions to dictate functionality (instead of
reading the shebang) scripts have to have a .pl extension in the file name.
ActivePerl will process perl directives in the shebang if you care about
stuff like that.

4) You can download and compile modules from CPAN but for most modules it's
easier to use ActiveState's PPM utility.

5) If you'll be doing web development consider using PerlScript and ASP as a
templating system instead of writing CGI scripts or other templating tools
like Mason.  Note #1: Matthew Seargent's Win32::ASP streamlines things
considerably. Note #2: ASP is not the same thing as ASP.NET.  ASP is free
and pretty easy, ActiveState's VisualPerl for ASP.NET is more powerful but
neither free nor easy.

6) PerlScript can also be used with the Windows Scripting Host, which must
be a blessing for the poor slobs stuck doing system administration with
Visual Basic.  I don't bother.  As far as I can tell you get the same
functionality for a lot less hassle with regular Perl scripts using

Perldoc provides a complete rundown in perlwin32, perlport, perlfork, all of
which should be available in Unix distributions.  If you install ActivePerl
in Windows the HTML-based documentation gives you a bunch of additional
Perl-for-Windows information.

Finally, at the end of the day it's all still Perl whatever the platform.
Like Dave I'm also more than happy to help any way I can, but he's right
that you probably won't need it.

		-- David Innes

-----Original Message-----
From: spug-list-bounces at mail.pm.org [mailto:spug-list-bounces at mail.pm.org]
On Behalf Of Dave Coleman
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2004 1:45 PM
To: spug-list at mail.pm.org
Subject: SPUG: RE - using ActivePerl coming from UNIX land

Brian ( and any other SPUGsters interested )
  I use ActivePerl for most everything, as my current employer is afriad of 
things with x's in their names.  I have worked on UNIX systems, but not 
nearly as much.  For the most part, I don't think you'll have any  problems,

unless you really like to use system commands.  The biggest hassle you will 
have is trying to communicate with ActivePerl programmers using UNIX world 
terms.  I would be more than happy to assist in any way I can, although I 
doubt you'll have any trouble.

I'm considering using ActivePerl for my next project. I've only programmed
PERL under UNIX (SGI, SUN, FreeBSD, Linux) previously so I'm wondering what
it would be like using ActivePerl. Is it a hassle, simple, ?

Any opinions?


-Brian Schieber
Vashon, WA
206-383-7750 cell / 206-463-2451 home
bschieber at centurytel.net

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