Better Perl

Jonathan Tweed jonathan at
Sun Apr 6 20:41:52 BST 2008

On 6 Apr 2008, at 18:13, Nicholas Clark wrote:

> On Sun, Apr 06, 2008 at 05:11:45PM +0100, Jonathan Tweed wrote:
>> * It's hard to hire good people and getting harder.
> This is good people who know Perl, or good people generally?

It's always hard to get good people, but it's even harder to get good  
Perl people. With fewer people learning Perl and instead learning  
Python or Ruby there are fewer people becoming interested in the  
language in the first place.

>> * You can't hire someone with the mindshare of ThoughtWorks to do
>> Perl consultancy.
> This is tricky to change.
> ThoughtWorks presumably likely to advocate Rails and Java. Are  
> there large
> mindshare consultancies advocating Python or PHP?

Not sure on Python, but PHP has corporate backing from IBM. I wonder  
if part of the problem is that Perl people tend to stick to Perl  
conferences and events. Maybe if a few more Perl people were openly  
active in wider communities such as the agile and web worlds there  
might be a bit more mindshare there.

>> Perl is a tainted language here and it's going to be hard to shake
>> that. As to how we go about fixing it? I don't know, but as a start:
>> * Proof that Perl works for other big companies.
>> * Radically improved presentation and PR. I mean,
> What do you think is a good example of a site to steal, er, I mean  
> flatter?

I suspect I might get groans by using Ruby as an example, but take a  
look at It's not just about the way it  
looks, it's also about the content and structure. Interesting,  
obvious calls to action that pull in newcomers to the language. A  
Windows download that doesn't take you to a commercial site that puts  
the free downloads right at the bottom of the page under a whole load  
of pay for products. The Ruby on Rails site also features prominent,  
inviting calls to action.

The Ruby site also devotes most of the page to frequently updated  
news content about the language, showing that things are happening in  
the community, that it is active and under current development.  
Compare and contrast to where it looks like the site was put  
up in 1994 and nothing has happened with the language since. If it  
wasn't for the fact that two of the headlines have 2008 in the date I  
would have no idea when the stories had been published.

>> * A community that isn't downright rude to newcomers (that doesn't
>> apply to everyone ;-).
> There will always be bad apples. (And unfortunately quite a few of  
> them are
> on #perl). Is the Perl community noticeably worse than others?

The Perl community can appear extremely cliquish. Sites like use Perl  
and PerlMonks are also pretty intimidating in appearance and in dire  
need of a visual refresh.


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