There's really, in my opinion, only two other options: Python and Ruby. Both are great languages, but I know (and love) Perl, which has a C-like syntax, just like Java. Which is why we agreed that Perl was the way to go for him.
So, as a Java programmer, how do you get started with Perl?
You should start by reading the best (free) book about Perl: Modern Perl. It's also available for download as PDF or epub.
To try out Perl, you need to install it.
On Windows you have three possibilities:
- Strawberry Perl (see Installing Strawberry Perl on Windows 7)
- Perl under Cygwin (see Installing Cygwin Perl on Windows 7
If you're already using Cygwin, then use the Perl that comes with that. Otherwise, I would recommend Strawberry Perl, it's up-to-date, easy to install, free and open. I used ActivePerl years ago; it was the first easy to use Perl on Windows. It's still a very good product, it's has some Windows-specific modules and enhancements, and you can buy support from ActiveState.
I don't have a Mac, but as far as I know, Perl should be available by default. ActivePerl is also available for MacOS.
Linux will usually have Perl installed by default, or available in a package for simple installation. And ActivePerl is also available here.
I will (hopefully) blog a bit more about how to learn Perl as a Java programmer.
If you want to know more, check out O'Reilly's Perl section, especially Programming Perl, 4th Edition - avoid old books and tutorials, Perl has changed at lot through the years, and although it's still highly backwards compatible, best practice has changed quite a bit.