Better Perl

Dave Cross dave at
Mon Apr 7 09:27:49 BST 2008

Quoting Iain Barnett <iainspeed at>:

> I'd also suggest:
> - Eat some humble pie: call Perl6 "PerlN" or "PerlDev" or *something*
> that isn't Perl6 (like the Strawberry and Vanilla perl - cool names,
> too). Then take as much as possible from it and put it into the current
> release and stick out a Perl6. Finally.

Personally, I'm all in favour of renaming Perl 6. Ain't gonna happen tho'.

> - Do what Apple have done with their business model (and M$ with their
> developer support) - which is produce a vertical model for perl. So
> newbies can get started within minutes, no /(f|m)ucking/ around with
> the command line. The advanced people are more advanced and can just
> get on with it.

I'm probably being a bit thick here, but what is a "vertical model".  
What exactly needs to change in order for newbies to get started  
within minutes?

> - Do what M$ do very well, and improve the documentation for CPAN
> modules. Perhaps add ratings for the completeness of docs? It's a
> failing of open source projects generally, and perl stuff certainly
> isn't immune. [3]

Do you know that you can already rate CPAN modules? See

Also CPANTS ( includes measures for  
"has_test_pod_coverage" and "no_pod_errors". Is that a move in the  
right direction?

> - Build a proper IDE (yes, yes, "we don't need a GUI", blah blah. No,
> *you* don't need a GUI, but you're stuck in a time warp), and make it
> free, and good looking. [4]

I'm not sure who this is aimed at. It's clear that there are at least  
two groups of people (the groups behind Komodo and EPIC) who agree  
that and IDE is needed. So rather than telling the people on this list  
(who largely, it would seem, don't share that point of view) that an  
IDE is essential, your time might be better spent contacting those  
groups and discussing with them the improvements that you think their  
IDEs need.

Or maybe even getting involved with the development of those tools.  
You know, this _is_ open source software. "Patches welcome" and all  
that :-)

> - Stop listening to people who proclaim Perl to be the best language
> ever, a bit like Liverpool supporters do about Liverpool. It's 17 years
> since a league title and they are still banging on. Things have moved
> on, it's catch up time. [4]

This is obviously a personal thing, but I tend to ignore most people  
who claim that any language (or, indeed, any tool) is the best thing  

> - Cut the sneering at Web 2.0 and Ajax. They're cool *and* it makes
> things easier. Get over it. Again, it's not 1999 and we don't all read
> our websites using Lynx and wget. [5]

As far as I can see, there have only been a couple of individuals who  
have been sneering at Web 2.0 or Ajax in this discussion. There other  
people who have been quietly producing the tools that allow Perl to  
work very well in a Web 2.0 world. Try searching CPAN for things like  
Ajax, Prototype and JSON.

> - Take Windows more seriously. It's a huge chunk of the market, and all
> this snootiness is just bollocks. Python seems to work better on it,
> why is that? Why can't I get a _simple_ DBI interface to SQL Server
> that isn't ODBC? [6]

It's true that many of the people on this list avoid Windows whenever  
possible and have a tendency to disparage it. That makes us exactly  
the wrong set of people to get involved in improving Perl support on  

There are, however, a significant (and growing) number of people in  
the Perl community who are putting time and effort into improving the  
lot of the Perl Windows programmer. Hence and  
the Vanilla/Strawberry Perl project. Things have (apparently) improved  
massively in the Windows/Perl world over the last few years. And this  
improvement is continuing.

If you want to see it improving at a greater rate, then I'm sure  
they'd welcome your input.

> - Perhaps TPF needs to hire a communications/PR expert? The Arctic
> Monkeys did it before they got a record deal, so it's not uncool
> anymore ;)  [7]

Perhaps you should suggest that to TPF. Although, I'd lay off the  
Arctic Monkeys references as I'm not sure how cool they are outside of  
the UK :-)

> A big problem is that so much power in perl comes from regex, and regex
> looks horrible and is difficult for newbies. I have no suggestions for
> that.

But, as I understand it, many other languages are now incorporating  
Perl-style regular expressions. So, whilst that doesn't help newbies,  
it does mean it will be less of a problem for people coming to Perl  
from other languages.

As Jonathan Stowe hinted at in his reply to you. The Perl community is  
volunteer-driven. Many of your suggestions are really good ones and  
the best way to make them happen is to get involved. You obviously  
have a lot of ideas. I'd love to see you follow them through.



> [1] For those that don't know/remember
> [2] Answer: design.  vs
>  is like Oasis vs Arctic Monkeys - more than
> 10 years out of date.
> [3] vs
> - so many more examples of *actual use* on MSDN,
> not just method signatures, and it looks better
> [4] -
> not number 1. Not even top 4 (more of a Tottenham at the mo, good
> attack, poor defence :)
> [5] vs
> [6]
>  -
> quick? No, it might be good but I had to read too many docs and just
> took too long - to connect to one of the big 3 RDBMS!
> [7] ;)

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