Perl outreach

Kieren Diment diment at
Tue Nov 27 02:58:17 GMT 2012

On 27/11/2012, at 1:24 PM, Anthony Lucas wrote:

> On 26 November 2012 23:26, Kieren Diment <diment at> wrote:
>> cross learning a different language in the same class as perl (wide field) is clearly trivial for a competent perl programmer (for some value of trivial that implies an initial discount on productivity or billable hours).
> This. 100 times.
>> So maybe what we should be promoting is that good perl people are valuable in any dynamic language situation where doing things the cheapest possible way isn't the primary goal. (not that perl's expensive - just a focus on cheap at all costs tends to be a sign of very bad management or a toxic industry segment).
> Between your previous replies, and this one, I'm a bit confused on
> your stance (so forgive me if I misunderstand). Surely a good Perl
> developer is a good <$lang> developer as well? Surely such a developer
> would take the time to learn one or two other languages...

Indeed.  I'm a moderately competent with javascript and R for example.  Due to the need to deal with stuff that they handle well from time to time.

> I agree with your premise, but I can't agree with the conclusion.
> Based on your first statement, there is no need to "push", promote, or
> force Perl onto any client or employer.

Yeah I'm usually unclear on complicated answers - it's the bane of my life.  I guess there's two aspects.  Personal and technical.  On the personal, If you want me to run a technical team, you'll be much better off to let me do it with perl at the core, and I'll happily arrange for quick cross training of ruby and python people.  If you want me to be a part of a technical team then any dynamic language will do, although you'll have to give me some lead time to reinvent a few mental wheels early on.  I would probably not be happy in a hands on coding role in a predominantly Java or C# environment due to the bureaucratic nature of the languages.

On the technical side, perl supports a number of different programming styles - procedural, functional, oo, and others.  Python and Ruby are much more tied into OO.  So it's less likely that a good perl person will need to reach for other languages to demonstrate their competence with a diversity of styles, so their CV may look thinner than those of others'.

> Perl is not a marketing product, it's not a political party, and not a
> religion. I don't agree with pushing agendas in this way, even though
> much of FOSS seems to be going this way recently (I'm surprised those
> projects don't see the irony in their actions).
> I think David H was simply asking about positive involvement within
> the tech community. Sharing our enjoyment of it, our creativity, our
> lessons from it. This is the best way to see changes of opinion in the
> people we meet.

I get a little upset at the offhand dismissive attitude of much of the Python (there are some really stupid comments about perl in Programming Python for example) and Ruby communities towards perl.  Something that's not done much in the reverse (sometimes I do see perl people getting a bit cross about Py/Rb code reinventing infrastructural wheels badly mind you, but that's about it).  

So what I'm trying to promote is the value of using/knowing  a toolchain with a quarter century of history that keeps up with and sets modern approaches, and a general approach of love and acceptance towards everyone in the broader community (except VBA and VBS of course ;-) ).

I am somewhat concerned about perl jobs drying up (you can really see this in Sydney for example, but strangely not in Melbourne where the weather is worse and where they are a more cultured bunch), so I'm trying to think of how to deal with this either by creating more perl jobs, or by demonstrating that high level perl skills are extremely useful even for non-perl projects.

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