Better Perl

Nicholas Clark nick at
Sat Apr 19 10:17:48 BST 2008

On Tue, Apr 08, 2008 at 12:54:58PM +0100, Paul Makepeace wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 11:13 PM, Paul Johnson <paul at> wrote:

> >  Tell us something exciting about how Google is using dynamic languages.
> Funny you should ask! Well, Google thinks python is important enough
> to hire its author, Guido v Rossum. And he's part of a team that's
> been working on making python accessible in a hosted environment,
> along with Django and friends. It's pretty damn cool.

Whereas no company using Perl thinks that it is important enough to their
business to hire any of the core developers to work on Perl to benefit their
own business (and happily happen maybe to help others).

Except, I think, at times, ActiveState, and they have trouble convincing
anyone they approach to relocate to Vancouver.

I think that this may be part of the problem with Perl. For over a decade
none of the key Perl contributors have not been employed by any of the key
large Perl using companies, so their has been no (significant) corporate
patronage of Perl infrastructure and marketing.

(sort-of exceptions being ActiveState, a small company, hosting the Perl 5
perforce repository, and Fotango donating money to TPF (without formal
thanks) and sponsoring Ponie, but I'd not count either company significant -
Fotango was never more than 35 people, and I'm guessing ActiveState is no
more than 50. Neither have the (market capitalisation) scale of Shopzilla or
Ticketmaster or Yahoo!) (Or even firms with around 250 employees)

(Sort of exception being Fotango employing me, but it wasn't formally to work
on the Perl core as part of my job at any time. Working on Ponie came later,
as a side effect of Arthur moving from development to operations, and there
were at least 3 months when I was instructed not to work on Ponie, but wasn't
in a position to say that to the world.)(Shopzilla (London) certainly did not
employ me as anything other than a fungible "senior Perl developer", unlike
their later employment of Tim Bunce to work on core infrastructure.)

(And that's just me. None of Larry, Jarkko, Rafael, Dave, Yves or Abhijit
to my knowledge have ever been employed by anyone in the last 10 years,
because they were a core Perl developer.)

All these corporate users of Perl are taking it for granted.

Given that no large corporation has the altruistic balls to do anything, it's
(mostly) why I'm trying to get a plan together for how to get money out of
firms to pay for someone to deal with the grunge work of supporting Perl 5:

but so far it's an overwhelming "meh" as far as feedback goes on whether my
proposal would even work. (the "how to spend money" part)

Why do I bother?

I forgot I knew an answer to your previous question. Shopzilla were sold for
over $500 million a couple of years back, and they would cease trading
overnight without Perl, as it runs their website, and that is 100% of their

I don't know how reliant Ticketmaster and are on Perl, or what
their valuations are, but they advertise a lot for developers with Perl
skills in the LA area.

Nicholas Clark

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