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Perl is dead

by cLive ;-) (Prior)
on Oct 24, 2006 at 16:46 UTC ( #580321=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Excuse me if this has been discussed before (I couldn't find it though). This is a rather amusing rant from an Amazon developer.

Even though it is a little OTT in places, it does definitely have some valid points.

I love Perl, but my faith in its future is not that great right now. I feel Python beckoning ;-)

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Perl is dead
by philcrow (Priest) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:23 UTC
    The last time this came up, our Python loving admin complained that he wished people would say his language was dying. He takes it as given that successful languages will be attacked in this way. Until he hears that Python is dying, he won't believe it has acheived wide use or has a long future.


Re: Perl is dead
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Oct 24, 2006 at 19:02 UTC

    Thanks for the link. I found it amusing. This little part really tickled my soul:

    Of course, Perl5 regexps are actually so complex that it's proven extremely difficult to write an interpeter for them. The Java classes implementing Perl5 regexps are about 7,000 lines of code, and if you look at, you'll get a free peek into the Intern Project from Hell.

    I mean, what do you say to a comment like this? "Too bad the PCRE/Python guys are smarter than the Java types?" or "Hmm, so Java is not a good language for implementing a regex engine in?", or should it just be "Use the force Luke, read the source.."?

    Of course, the current blead sources for the regex engine, including only the two main C files comes to a whopping 13878 lines, (as of Patch 29100) so I guess the Java crew should be happy they managed to pare it down by half.... Although I do wonder how they managed to fit the regex optimiser into that amount of code.... Maybe really long lines? ;-)


Re: Perl is dead
by revdiablo (Prior) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:07 UTC

    This has been discussed to death. Let me just say, if you think the Perl community is going away any time soon, you are not paying very much attention. What else do we really need to keep a language alive?

    Update: How hard did you try to find previous discussions about this? Not very hard, I would guess. A simple super search for titles of "dying" reveals the following fairly-recent threads:

Re: Perl is dead
by jeffa (Bishop) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:19 UTC

    Every time i read one of these pointless rants, i read the same arguments. Perl is confusing. Perl is awkward. Perl is too hard to maintain. I never read about these people getting over that and learning how to use the CPAN. I never see those people here at the Monastery. Perl is dead. Long live Perl. ;)

    Funny thing is (referring to the last paragraphs of his rant), i wrote my compiler before i learned and starting using Perl.


    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
Re: Perl is dead
by derby (Abbot) on Oct 24, 2006 at 18:28 UTC

    IT Press: Bring out yer dead.
    ... a man puts perl on the cart ...
    Yegge: Here's one.
    IT Press: That'll be ninepence.
    perl: I'm not dead.
    IT Press: What?
    Yegge: Nothing. There's your ninepence.
    perl: I'm not dead.
    IT Press: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.
    Yegge: Yes he is.
    perl: I'm not.
    IT Press: He isn't.
    Yegge: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
    perl: I'm getting better.
    Yegge: No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.
    IT Press: Well, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
    perl: I don't want to go on the cart.
    Yegge.: Oh, don't be such a baby.
    you know the rest ... I couldn't resist.

Re: Perl is dead
by jdporter (Canon) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:17 UTC
Re: Perl is dead
by ptum (Priest) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:20 UTC

    I would be inclined to take anything written by someone at Amazon about Perl with a grain or two of salt. (Whew! I think I used up a month's worth of prepositions in that last sentence!) Widely simplifying from my limited experience at that interesting company, there seems to be a mythos there that for 'real' programming, you need C++, and that Perl is only good for 'hacks'. Steve and I didn't cross paths much while I worked there, and he's entitled to his opinion, but it doesn't count for much with me, since I have found Perl to be the most productive tool (for me) to get real work done.

Re: Perl is dead
by sauoq (Abbot) on Oct 24, 2006 at 20:11 UTC

    I wonder how much his opinion would change if he used a modern version of Perl... note that his docs on the Range operator read:

    Be aware that under the current implementation, a temporary array is created, so you'll burn a lot of memory if you write something like this: ...

    That how it was in perl5.004. In 5.005, which came out over 8 years ago, this was fixed and the docs were changed to read: 'In the current implementation, no temporary array is created when the range operator is used as the expression in "foreach"'.

    There have been what... about twenty-some releases since then? No wonder he's confused and thinks the language is dead...

    One point in his defense though: he does say, "use Ruby". Personally, I think Perl6 should be abandoned and Ruby should be adopted as Perl7.

    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
Perl is Just A Language - was Re: Perl is dead
by Joost (Canon) on Oct 24, 2006 at 20:48 UTC
    Perl is just one of the very many languages you can use to communicate with computers and other programmers. Well written perl is usually easy to read and generally blazing fast, but not all that easy to write. Some of the old-fashioned constructs (especially the more low-level syscalls, like the File/Net/IO operators) get in the way of doing things intuitively. Also, IMHO perl's OO support is just barely sufficient.

    From what I've seen, perl 6 will fix a lot of the issues, but I really have no clue when it'll be released. On the other hand, if I need a language that has really good OO support right now, I'll just use Ruby. If I need a language that will give me speed and portability, I'll use C (with or without Perl/XS). If I need something to install on a bog-standard Win2000 server, i'll use Visual Basic. There have even be a few projects where Java was a good choice.

    The point is, use the right language that works for you and your project. Ruby sucks at unicode but has terrific OO. Perl is sometimes inconsistent and can definitely be ugly but it has CPAN, is available on all UNIXes, easy (for me) to write and it's fast. Java is too much typing but it has pretty good threading and corporate support. C is hard to get right but works everywhere. Javascript has closures and a neat OO model but the syntax is ugly as hell.

    In other words, pick the posion that will do the least damage :-)

Re: Perl is dead
by Marza (Vicar) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:27 UTC


    I tend to forget what people say when I read a comment like:

    "But I don't care. I'm tired of fighting ignorance. I'm off to find smart people and do great things."

    You won't listen to what I am saying so I will take my ball and go somewhere else?

    "I wrote a complete essay about this that I was ready to publish, but I decided it's perhaps a bit too controversial."

    :D A cry for us to plead with him to publish it?

    "They feel that learning another language would take years, during which time they lose their value and could easily become unemployed."

    How many people here only know Perl? Most software developers I know understand multiple languages

    "After you write a compiler (which, to be sure, is a nontrivial task, but if there's some valid program out there that you couldn't ever write, then you're not justified in calling yourself a programmer), the disease simply vanishes."

    Writing a "good" complier is not a trivial task. Is there any CS person that has not wrote a compiler?

    The rant sounds like he wishes he had Larry's fame. Why take pot shots at him? What has that got to do with the value or lack there of in the matters of Perl? We didn't decide to use Perl just because Larry was interesting. Never met let alone seen the man. We are also not wedded to Perl. We use it heavily but we have found some things a little easier with Python.

    Ahh well that's what Blogs are for I guess.....

Re: Perl is dead
by grep (Monsignor) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:41 UTC
    I for one, am pleased to see that Amazon hires the mentally challenged. Good for them!

    One dead unjugged rabbit fish later
      It is titled "Stevey's Drunken Rants" for a reason. It's not like he promised, sober, serious analysis.

      If you read a few of his other posts, he's actually quite impressed by perl and the perl community. Some of his essays kept me quite amused during my after lunch sleepy time.

      Update: I read again his opinion on things like the ".." operator. The first time I read about that thing, I thought the designer was demented. 9 years of perl later... I'm sure of it

      I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

        Do you mean instead of responding with a cogent argument, I engaged in an Ad Hominem attack?
        Hmmmm... I'll have to think about that :)

        BTW I have never promised my posts would be sober, serious analysis.

        One dead unjugged rabbit fish later
Re: Perl is dead
by runrig (Abbot) on Oct 24, 2006 at 19:47 UTC
    This is a rather amusing rant from an Amazon developer.

    Correction. A former Amazon developer. He currently works for Google, and his current blog is somewhere else.

Re: Perl is dead
by joeface (Pilgrim) on Oct 26, 2006 at 07:19 UTC

    FWIW, the quote below is from a more recent rant located here:

    As I've done for a great many other programming languages, I've bashed on Perl's technical weaknesses at length in the past. To my continued amazement, the Perl folks are the only ones who never get upset. They just say "Haha, yeah, boy, you're right, it sure is ugly. Heh. Yeah, so, um, anyway, I'm going to get back to work now..." It's awesome. I've gained so much respect for them. It's almost enough to make me go back to programming in Perl...

Re: Perl is dead
by Khen1950fx (Canon) on Oct 24, 2006 at 23:26 UTC
    I read the article. What's amusing about it? It reminds me of the Mel Gibson tirade against the Jews. That went over like a lead balloon. The author viciously attacks Larry Wall and the whole open source I supposed to pat him on the back and say "Good boy!"? Rubbish! To quote Larry Wall:

    "True greatness is measured by how much freedom you give to others, not by how much you can coerce others to do what you want...I explicitly give people the freedom not to use Perl, just as God gives people the freedom to go to the devil if they so choose."

Re: Perl is dead
by ForgotPasswordAgain (Deacon) on Oct 24, 2006 at 17:06 UTC
    I thought that was pathetic, because he works for Jeff Bezos, who is a lunatic. Well, that's about the extent of his reasoning for why he doesn't like Perl, so I feel I can do the same, no? He starts with ad hominem attacks on Larry Wall, then it gets even weaker after that. I found almost nothing compelling in what I read in his rant.
Re: Perl is dead
by talexb (Canon) on Oct 24, 2006 at 20:50 UTC

    From the linked blog:

      I started writing an internal blog at in summer 2004. It wasn't (and isn't) endorsed by Amazon; it's just my personal blog, where I wrote whatever was on my mind, usually at home late at night after a few glasses of wine. ..


      Most of them are crap, or experimental at best. Some of them are pretty good -- at least I still laugh evilly at the mean jokes I made about Eclipse. Unfortunately, I haven't spent the time to put them in any order except chronological. Someday!

    (Emphasis added.) Kind of a waste of electrons, if you ask me.

    Move along, there's nothing to see here.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

Re: Perl is dead
by tinita (Parson) on Oct 25, 2006 at 15:56 UTC
    i found that many attacks against Perl originate from a lack of humour. the way stevey talks about larry being religious shows that he does not have a clue of what larry is talking about.
    (not that *I* can always follow his talks but if people feel hatred in in talks like stevey does then it must be their own perception...)

    edit: typos

Re: Perl is dead
by shmem (Chancellor) on Oct 25, 2006 at 05:39 UTC
    Amusing? I have read it with growing disgust. Wine must have ill side effects on that bloke. Writing rants while getting drunk is a strange manifestation of taste, but why publish them? Articles like that one shouldn't be promoted, less here at perlmonks.


    _($_=" "x(1<<5)."?\n".q·/)Oo.  G°\        /
                                  /\_¯/(q    /
    ----------------------------  \__(m.====·.(_("always off the crowd"))."·
    ");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}
Re: Perl is dead
by Jenda (Abbot) on Oct 25, 2006 at 01:40 UTC

    If you ask me, the guy was overworked and burned out. I do get all worked up about minor things myself very easily lately. Anyway I hope he feels better now.

Re: Perl is dead
by Withigo (Friar) on Oct 26, 2006 at 03:22 UTC
    okay, I can't avoid biting this one. :)

    While I agree that nearly every point in his blog rant against perl is plain wrong at best, and ridiculous at worst, there might be a solid underlying reason behind the spewing of hatred. This reason seems to be the driving force behind the anti-perl attitude which is far advanced amongst the ranks within Amazon, at least as far as I've seen firsthand.

    It's not usually "perl sucks"--everyone sees perl as being as useful and as entrenched as C, so it's not going away anytime soon, and it will always be around in some capacity. And nobody's like "perl coders produce crap", instead it's "perl coders are too smart for everyone else's good, they need to be slowed down so that management can control the situation." The problem raised against perl is always: "we need to setup systems which perform highly specific tasks tens of millions of times per day without fail and perl is just too slow, and the cost of finding perlguts experts to 'do it the right way in perl' is far more expensive than just doing it in Java".

    When you have god-knows-how-many systems of servers acting as load balancers doing distributed computation for all kinds of mind-boggling activities and when the same systems in Java require less than half as many servers, then the limits of what can be done in perl have been reached, and a lower level solution is a better fit.

    Always use the right tool for the right job, right?

    Sure perl is perfect for 90% of whatever you need to do, but when it comes to specialized domains involving highly scalable and highly used systems that don't fail and which involve a touch of scientific simulation and modeling, perl is not the silver bullet. (I hope Perl 6 will be! C'mon Parrot!) Especially once you reach the point of diminishing marginal returns from "throwing more hardware at the problem".

    So I can't really blame him for just repeating an attitude he probably heard all over the place at his former job. Though I am a bit puzzled by his recent embracing and promotion of ruby, which falls far short of perl in terms of scalability and performance.

    Alas, such is the IT industry, always creating new bridges to sell you; which are worse in terms of usability, worse in using the newest hardware more inefficiently and worse in providing inumerable new and useless features that only increase the overall complexity in order to justify the vicious circle of profit.

    But nobody ever got fired for buying the new-new-thing (and trash talking the old thing). In fact, that's how you get promoted!

      To be honest, whatever it was you needed me to do, I probably would have a working prototype done in perl before you finished writing that node. ;-)

      As far as how you get promoted, it probably was not insignificant that I said something similar to the above to my manager in more than one meeting. "Ok, you want something to work kinda like ... this?" (turns laptop around) Of course, when he asked if I was ready to check it in, my response was "well, I just started it 30 minutes ago - give me a bit to test it, ok?" ;-)

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