Perl is dead

Philippe Bruhat (BooK) philippe.bruhat at
Thu Dec 4 14:07:59 GMT 2008

On Thu, Dec 04, 2008 at 02:01:37PM +0100, Abigail wrote:
> > 
> > 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.

By Perl community, I meant something like your definition below:

> 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)

So I guess I was saying that the Perl conferences are attracting people
from the Perl community, which you can define roughly as the people
going to Perl conferences. Erm. Maybe I wasn't thinking very clearly.

I think the "Perl is dying" cry refers to the perception that there are
less Perl users, i.e.:

> people working *with* Perl.

I'm not saying that we should bring in more of the "Perl users" to the
Perl conferences. As you noted, it requires an interest in Perl and in
socializing that most of these users will never have anyway.

I'm saying that if Perl is dying, or is not recognized and used as we
want it to be, we need to reach those Perl users (so that *they* don't
believe that Perl is dying and eventually switch) and the people who
have yet to become Perl users, and even the ones that are not yet users
of any langage (wouldn't it be nice if it was Perl?).

Pure Perl conferences will probably never attract them.

Technical articles in the mainstream computing press about Perl let
people know Perl is still alive and kicking (by mainstream, I basically
mean NOT The Perl Review).

Technical meetings may attract programmers who think they'll learn
something from them for free (but they probably need a well publicized

Going to the studends to let them know that Perl exists and show some of
the awesome things we can do with it is even better, as they'll have a
first encounter with Perl that shines a positive light on it. Students
get to hear about lots of langages, but usually Perl is not one of them
(and neither is Python or Ruby). If their teachers don't tell them about
Perl, maybe we need to. Hopefully, their teachers will be in the room,
and will also learn something about Perl. We can hope they will be more
inclined to talk about it in the future.

And then there are the more "public" conferences, targeting a broad
audience of programmers, professionals and users. Maybe there should be
a Perl booth in those, with nice demos and presentations, freebies and
flyers about the next local PM meeting or the next Perl event.

It definitely requires work and coordination, but I think we, the Perl
community, can do more in this area (reaching students in universities,
holding booths in large conferences).

There are many ways to help spread knowledge about Perl's liveliness:
I doubt I'll ever be able to contribute a significant piece of code to
Perl 5 or 6 themselves, but I have already held a booth in a large Linux
conference, written Perl articles in the French computing press, and
taught Perl to a class (of colleagues, actually). I'm currently trying
to bring some Perl presentations to local universities, and taking part
to a joint effort by the French Perl, Python and Ruby communities to
organize a free technical conference in Paris in the last quarter of
2009. I'm sure other groups have similar projects and experience.

There is stuff we can do, but we are probably not organized enough. Yet.

> 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.

I don't know if "Perl is dying", but I'm pretty sure the Perl community
is not. I keep meeting new faces to every Perl event I go, from the
tiniest PM meeting to the biggest YAPC. Let's put them to work! ;-)

 Philippe Bruhat (BooK)

 Just because you do not see it does not mean it is not there.
                                    (Moral from Groo The Wanderer #85 (Epic))

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