Let's organise a free teach-in

Jonathan Stowe jns at gellyfish.com
Fri Feb 16 20:16:02 GMT 2007

On Fri, 2007-02-16 at 16:57 +0000, Tim Sweetman wrote:
> What aspects of Perl require teaching? (Deliberately open-ended question)

I don't know about anyone else but the only languages I have ever
formally been taught were BASIC, COBOL and a rather freakish GIS
language which I am unlikely to ever use again, all the other ones that
I use more frequently (like Perl) I picked up along the way. However
some people and some organizations don't really work like that; they
want or need something formal if they are even going to look at some,
for instance, Perl code.

Let's face it Perl is a pretty freakish language if you are coming from
the other side of the street, y'know those things we don't talk about
like visual basic .... of course we're all clever people and that kind
of adjustment isn't all that difficult for us.

So I think a solid introduction to Perl as a foreign language, teaching
a style that isn't going to get people laughed at and just enough that
they can find and understand the documentation when they need to stretch

What I'd be more interested in would be how and why people here learned

I first discovered Perl from a magazine article along the lines of what
every Unix developer should have in their toolbox I think in 1993 or so,
I was doing a lot of probably over-complicated shell script and awk,
munging data in ways that the Informix tools I was using at the time
made difficult, and Perl seemed like a perfect fit to what I was doing
most of the time. I grabbed the source for some 4.* from some bulletin
board or something and hacked at it until it compiled on ICL DRS/NX (a
SVR4 derivative) and learned enough to be dangerous from the single
manpage that it distributed with and the contents of the eg directory. I
got the pink first edition of "Programming perl" a month or so later.
Most of the data munging I did after that was with Perl. People I worked
with and from the software vendor were telling me that using Perl wasn't
very useful as it wasn't available on most machines. The source
travelled around with me on a floppy to my next job (this was before I
took an internet connection for granted) where I inherited a bunch of
stuff which was begging to be rewritten in Perl ... and the rest as they
say ....


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