Random Perl ... rant

Ovid publiustemp-londonpm at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 2 12:01:32 BST 2008

--- Paul Makepeace <paulm at paulm.com> wrote:

> >  Also, new things inspire in us fascination and excitement,
> presumably
> >  when you first encountered perl, for example :-)

Yes.  I was a COBOL/VBA programmer at that time :)

> >  (I also think Ben's comments about how much perl 6 ends up in
> >  production is spot on. Unless perl solves the deployment issue
> it'll
> >  continue to be eaten alive by PHP and other 'easier' languages.)

Schwern and I were chatting about this last night.  We seemed to
roughly agree on the following:

1.  Ruby is a nicer language than Perl, but the community is young and
making silly mistakes.  Their love of modifying core classes/modules in
incompatible ways is powerful, but hitting their scalability limits. 
Just compare newer Perl code with Perl code written only five years
ago.  We've grown up quite a bit.  When Ruby grows up, they're going to
be a serious contender.

2.  Python is arguably a nicer language than Perl for many tasks and if
people can get over their silly qualms about vertical whitespace, it
will continue to overtake Perl (TIOBE recently showed Python eclipsing
Perl for the first time.  They've dropped again, but they're still
trending up to our down).

3.  PHP wins, big time, because they target the Web so heavily and
that's *still* where the mindshare is.  They're growing up, too.  PHP 6
is going to be a much better language than PHP 5.  People *love* Matt's
Script Archive because you could just drop the code on your server and
it would generally Just Work.  PHP gives you this, too.  Perl doesn't
have a clean out-of-the-box solution that people are buying into the
way they are for PHP.

Ignoring CPAN, which can be overcome with time, Perl doesn't have much
that is compelling to programmers over Ruby, Python.  Hell, just their
"everything is an object" attitude trumps Perl in many ways. 
Autoboxing in Perl would make many of our problems go away, but it
often scares Perl programmers the way Perl 6 does.


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