Better Perl

Jonathan Stowe jns at
Mon Apr 7 09:57:35 BST 2008

On Sun, 2008-04-06 at 21:13 +0100, Nicholas Clark wrote:
> On Sun, Apr 06, 2008 at 08:41:52PM +0100, Jonathan Tweed wrote:
> > 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.
> It may not be just Python and Ruby. I think that there was also the the
> problem that post 2001 some people kept liking Perl, so were prepared to be
> paid less to work on Perl, with the result that many Perl jobs paid less
> (and were able to pay less) than than (say) Java jobs to get the same
> calibre of person. So people don't go into Perl for the money, which also
> reduces the talent pool.

And discussions like this are symptomatic of this - there is an almost
cult-like fanaticism among some "Perl Programmers" such that they would
never ever work with any other language - the perceived "falling behind"
in some notional league table of programming languages leads to much
wailing and gnashing of teeth (and usually very little action.) Sure
employers are going to exploit this if they can, this doesn't make them
evil or bad but just shrewd business people. It is also entirely
possible that the people in positions to influence matters are aware of
the subject of the whining and also begin to believe that Perl is a
"sunset language".

Another thing that goes hand in hand with this is that a large number of
perl-centric startups got stuffed in the first dot-com bust and the
language (rightly or wrongly) got tarred with the jonah brush. By the
time things had picked up there were some newly matured languages and
bright upcoming web-centric toolkits coming along and I'd guess that the
people making decisions to some extent employed a "reverse cargo-cult"
approach to the choice of platform - "it all went horribly wrong last
time when they were using Perl so we'd better not do that again."

The flip side to the last paragraph is the places that weren't wiped out
by the last dot-com bust and were using Perl (the banks and financial
institutions, the telcos and ISPs, the information and data feed
merchants ...) have now built up quite a legacy of perl based software
infrastructure, but no-one gets excited about that stuff quite as much
as they seem to do about the web stuff for some reason.

My guitar kills bloggers

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