Where are the Perl Wordpresses, the Drupals, the Joomlas? (was Perl e-commerce?)

Peter Corlett abuse at cabal.org.uk
Fri Sep 30 10:49:24 BST 2011

On 16 Sep 2011, at 08:50, Zbigniew Łukasiak wrote:
> It's worth noting that Wordpress was at least initially perceived to
> be a 'free' answer to, then dominating, Perl based MovableType.
> MovableType is now GPL
> (https://github.com/movabletype/movabletype/blob/master/COPYING) - so
> why it did not gain back at least some of Wordpress popularity?
> Shared hosting is probably the main reason - but surely not the only
> one.

MT works on shared hosting because it drags along a whole load of pure-Perl CPAN modules as part of the bundle and runs under plain CGI. The few modules that are not included are things like DBI that you would normally expect to be provided as part of shared hosting.

Otherwise, do you seriously think that a change of licence terms is going to make any difference when it's so far behind the curve? Very few people bother to look at the licence when they download and install some random freeware, and Movable Type always had a very permissive licence for non-commercial use such as a personal blog.

Movable Type is a very old piece of software, and Perl has moved on somewhat. It's a load of crap by contemporary standards, but this is understandable as it dates from before CPAN really got going, and was one of the first - if not the first - large blogging engines, and pioneers don't exactly have the experience of others to draw upon.

My involvement with MT has generally been to write extensions to bend it into the tool clients thought they had selected in the first place. The extensions API is rather badly-documented and inconsistent, and not a few times I've hit upon another bug and wanted to just grab my coat, go to the nearest pub, and not come back. Occasionally, some of the design decisions look really quite boneheaded, but with experience comes the realisation that it was an engineering compromise to enable some other part of it to work at all.

If MT was a few years younger, it'd use things like TT and DBIC, which would make it more accessible to developers and users, and perform better as well. And it'd probably also use Catalyst which would put it back again ;)

One thing I've learned from MT looking awfully like a PHP application written in Perl is that you don't want to do that. "Ease of installation" means making compromises elsewhere, and that's not a useful trade-off on a sufficiently-large deployment that requires dedicated hardware and a sysadmin anyway. Never mind that you wouldn't need so much hardware and somebody to babysit it in the first place if performance and security wasn't what lost out in the compromise. (MT's security record is pretty good though. This is a Perl Win.)

Finally, if you're after ease of tweaking as well, MT rather fails due to its age and clunky APIs. We may mock PHP for being a bodger's playground, but Drupal and Wordpress are clearly a whole lot less bother to reskin and build extensions for, not least because there's so many more of them and they're usually free rather than payware. Why, it's often possible for a mere mortal to get something useful going without breaking out the credit card or getting expensive consultants in!

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