Perl is dead

Abigail abigail at
Thu Dec 4 13:01:37 GMT 2008

On Thu, Dec 04, 2008 at 01:33:13PM +0100, Philippe Bruhat (BooK) wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 04, 2008 at 08:45:02AM +0000, David Dorward wrote:
> > Léon Brocard wrote:
> >> Did anyone go to the London Perl Workshop this weekend?
> >> About 200.
> >>   
> >
> > Including me. It was very well organised and had some great talks.
> Aren't most Perl events (more than 20 worldwide in 2008, more than
> 10 already announced for 2009) only reaching people *within* the Perl
> community?

That depends on what you define to be "the Perl community". If you
consider it to be "anyone who programs Perl on a regular bases", then I
agree with you. And I don't think any conference about language X will
attract a significant number of people not coding in X.

But you should realize what a conference is about. It's not about
attracting people to the product. General Motors isn't saying "hmmm,
we've seen a drop in sales - let's organize a conference to attract non
GM drivers to GM cars". Conferences are mostly for networking. It's about
bringing people in contact with each other, and let them hear what others
work on. Only relevatively few people are interested in that. I use many
different products, computer languages, databases, OSses, hardware,
cameras, cars, food, etc. For almost all of them, including most of
the computer languages I use (or used to use) I've no interest into
belonging to its "community", or join conferences or workshops about
that product.  Perl conferences (and workshops) are mostly for people
that work *on* [Pp]erl in one way or the other (those patching perl,
writing documentation, writing CPAN modules, answering questions in fora,
etc), not so much a for people working *with* Perl. But the number of people
that work on [Pp]erl is just a tiny fraction of the number of people working
with Perl. (And that's no different from any other language - except maybe 
some fringe language with hardly any users at all). You and I work for a
pure Perl shop, with quite a number of Perl programmers, but even there
the majority doesn't contribute to [Pp]erl, and have no interest in coming
to conferences; they are just 'users'. (Not that there's anything wrong
with that). 

So, if you think that "Perl is dying" (which, BTW, I don't agree with, 
and haven't agree with for more than 10 years. The cries "Perl is dying"
I've heard ever since I joined my first Perl community in 1995 - and it
still isn't dead.), then I don't think the number of conferences, or 
the number of attendees swings the argument one way or the other.

Note that I also don't give much weight to the number of job openings
that mention Perl. I've had quite a number of jobs the past 10 years,
and I've used Perl a lot in all of them. But only in my current job
an advert would have mentioned "Perl" (although I initially came to
the company I now work for as a potential Unix sysadmin - a department
where Python is quite popular).


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