Perl outreach

Kieren Diment diment at
Mon Nov 26 21:22:35 GMT 2012

On 27/11/2012, at 8:03 AM, Salve J Nilsen wrote:

> Peter Sergeant said:
>> On Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 8:12 PM, Salve J Nilsen < at> wrote:
>>> «So you want to write some useful software? Learn from Perl. We in the Perl community saw what happened when one just focuses "getting stuff done" without spending any attention on software life-cycle management. So, what did we learn? Write software that is easy to understand and fun to read. In fact, try to write software that one only needs to read once, but that one *wants* to read twice. This is difficult, but less so with Perl. You need a language that is flexible and malleable enough so you can express the intention of your code in the way that is best for your readers. This is where Perl shines. If you wield the tool well you can make wonderful things, and if you don't you'll probably end up making crap.»
>>> Comments? :)
>> I think you could swap in any language name there, and no-one would be any wiser that you started off with "Perl".
> Would mentioning TIMTOWTDI address your point? e.g. «... This is where Perl shines. We call this flexibility TIMTOWTDI, and it's a core philosophy in our language. ...»
> Maybe this pitch can be improved in other ways too? (I'm sure if someone with a better grasp of the English language than myself would spend a little attention, we could get something useful out of it).

Couple of things:  1.

2.  I don't think language choices make a huge difference.  Perl is still huge in the networking and telecoms world, and that's not going to change any time soon. Bioinformatics people seem to be moving over to python a bit due to a.  better integration with R than perl (although last time I looked this had improved in perl a bit) and b. because perl gives poor unskilled[1] scientific programmers more than enough rope to hang themselves in comparison to python.

 I think I've said on this list before that I did an evaluation of Python and Ruby to see if I wanted to do any immediate career development in that area recently, and the answer was basically "oh well if I'm going to get paid for doing that stuff it looks OK, although it seems to lack the flexibility of perl, and Ruby has a lot of incomprehensible syntax that will take little getting used to".  But for the case where I have a budget to organise a team I can get really good perl people together quickly and easily.  

[1] Anyone who's looked at scientific code much will know exactly what I mean by this.

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