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Re: Perl is dying

by shmem (Canon)
on Jul 15, 2006 at 00:46 UTC ( #561375=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Perl is dying

Ah. Anonymous Monk is looking into the future. Well then, I'll look a bit into the past (my past) to contribute something that might be interesting.

Way back I was programming on a nifty CAD program on the ATARI ST, in GFA Basic, and my extensions to it earned me a job at the university which roughly consisted in documenting their UNIX network and help to solve problems. I had no clue of programming when I started on that CAD thingy, and I had no clue of UNIX either but sat at a SPARCstation IPC running SunOS 4.1.3 and was supposed to deliver something useful. Took me about half a year self-teaching me the use of shells, sed, awk, tr, uniq, sort, oodles of other binaries to get a grip on what UNIX is about, I dabbled with yacc, nm, ld and so on.. well, the documentation was never done. By the time I had the clue there was a budget cut and someone had to go. 'Twas me, since I was not involved in anything vitally important to the institute.

But meanwhile I did some useful things. My tutor gave me the hint to look at perl whilst I was doing some complicated networking stuff, and when disk quotas became a problem I whipped up a perl shell that behaved exactly like a user's shell, but allowed only operations which reduced the disk space used. Im still working with this shell, 13 years old now, of course without the restrictive part ;-)

What first struck me with perl were the three virtues of programming, laid out in the pink camel book: laziness, impatience and hubris.

Note that these virtues are diametral to social virtues:

laziness <=> diligence impatience <=> patience hubris <=> humility

These opposites deserve a meditation on it's own. But tell me, is there any other other computing language which takes you to musing about those things right in the first chapter of the book describing it?

Next job was replacing a Siemens Quattro system with HPUX/X11, and I was supposed to write database stuff without a database, because $customer could not decide on which one to use at that time. I wrote my own, perl and DB_File, it was a mess but ran lightning fast and did it's job for four years at least.

I spent my time as system administrator, security consultant, perl hacker, networker, software and hardware reseller (not in that particular order), but not in the realm of architecture which I had originally chosen. Ah, yes, and web programming.

Back to the present.

I'm not a programmer, but I do it. Things that I work out in perl often prove helpful, and many of them are done in no time, some require "banging my forehead with a book for half a year", but I have never found a task in which I had to "fight my tool", which is perl. Sometimes my code is a mess, sometimes I'm proud of it, but then I get humbled whith what I see e.g. at perlmonks.

I see perl is shipped with major OS distributions, it is used for kernel builds, administration tasks, bioinformatics, text munging, glue stuff, glue, and glue and glue stuff, and many other things I don't even know.

The future?

From my experience, I disagree with you, Anonymous Monk, and I agree with you. "All things must pass", as George Harrison said, but I guess perl will not die anytime soon. Perl is a wonderful tool, and a tool will die and be relegated to a museum when the task for which it was invented no longer exists. Using a better tool is always right, if it helps to "get your job done before your boss fires you." But as for now I cannot see any other tool more apt for this particular task than perl.

Ah, this is growing long. Just a few condensed points, to repeat other posters:

  • the lowly unix tools sed awk grep tr sort uniq et al continue to exist, being decades old
  • perl is part of virtually any UNIX or UNIX-like OS
  • perl can be considered a standard UNIX tool
  • fastcgi provides a better separation between webserver and content assembling programs
  • it's better to compromise the webserver with mod_perl than compromising your entire server with, say, PHP
  • CPAN is also a playing field and cauldron from which standards arise
  • perl is quite alive, and kicking, as are sed awk grep sh etc

There are so many things in your post I'd like to gainsay, but time..

Apologies for length and signal to noise ratio,

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                              /\_/(q    /
----------------------------  \__(m.====.(_("always off the crowd"))."
");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}

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Re^2: Perl is dying
by apotheon (Deacon) on Jul 19, 2006 at 08:13 UTC

    it's better to compromise the webserver with mod_perl than compromising your entire server with, say, PHP

    While I mostly agree with your points, this one misses the intent of the mention of mod_perl's shortcomings, I think. First, there's the fact that while PHP can make it easier for a malevolent security cracker to screw things up with malice aforethought, mod_perl can make it easier for a clueless webhosting customer to screw things up accidentally. Second, whether PHP or mod_perl is the greater risk, it's the risk factor of mod_perl as perceived by the webhosting providers that creates a problem with ease of Perl use for web development, not its actual imposed risks, because that perception induces webhosting service providers to disallow it. It may well be true that mod_perl is a safer option than PHP, but if it's not available to someone that needs to do some web programming, that would-be Perlist will instead become a PHP scripter or Pythonista if PHP and/or Python are more accessible.

    print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
    - apotheon
    CopyWrite Chad Perrin

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