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Re: Perl for new projects

by sundialsvc4 (Monsignor)
on Nov 18, 2010 at 19:28 UTC ( #872332=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Perl for new projects

Perl has been aptly called “the Swiss Army Knife®, or the duct tape, of the web.”  http://perl.about.com/od/gettingstartedwithperl/p/whatisperl.htm

But it is used for a lot more than just “the web,” because it turns out to be so gosh-darned useful for so many things.   Many languages (such as PHP) are fairly special-purpose in their “typical” deployments, and of course are carefully designed to excel at doing those things in those environments.   (Which they unquestionably do, to the satisfaction of many people including myself.)   Perl, on the other hand, is truly “general-purpose.”   It is actually quite difficult to generalize about all the many things that Perl is called-upon to do.   That’s because it is the well-worn, well-honed tool that is carefully put away in so many professionals’ daily tool boxes, and picked up daily.   (Almost...) No matter what the job is, this tool will do it.

While I am writing this, four different computers are churning away at the task of parsing about 11,000 SAS,® SQL and Shell-script files to populate an SQLite database with about 89 megabytes’ worth of information.   All in Perl.   (They will be finished in about eleven minutes.)   This task obviously has nothing at all to do with “the web,” but Perl is doing the job with grace and style ... and raw power.

Take this advice from an old fart who’s been programming professionally for thirty years:   Get to know Perl.   Get to know it very, very well.   The time you spend doing so, will be time well spent.

“Languages” will always be in-demand.   There is no “One Language To Rule Them All,” nor will there ever be.   The more of them you know, the better.   (My personal count is “somewhere north of twenty.”)   No language will ever displace any other, because millions of lines of critical source-code have been written in each.   It takes time to learn, or even to learn about, a programming language, of course.   Just make it your business to put Perl in your toolkit, and do it soon.


Comment on Re: Perl for new projects
Re^2: Perl for new projects
by aquarium (Curate) on Nov 18, 2010 at 23:31 UTC
    my farts are not quite as smelly as yours sundialsvc4 ;) however i also picked up perl some years ago as i discovered you could do lots of "whatever you need done" system administration tasks, data tranformation tasks, and CGI..can all be done in perl with minimum fuss. i'm not sure yet what to make of perl 6...as now it's back to declarative datatypes, and other syntatic sugar that makes it look like java with regard to OO. i'm sure it's all good when you need it..but i don't think you should be forced into it. looks a bit like bloat to me. anyway, whilst perl is not as popular as it used to be, it's still installed by default with the OS for the OS'es that count. So while some people can't adapt to any task and require Visual Studio and VB .net or C++, and a month to do any minor task....you can usually do it in perl in about 5 or 10 minutes.
    the hardest line to type correctly is: stty erase ^H
Re^2: Perl for new projects
by TomDLux (Vicar) on Nov 19, 2010 at 01:33 UTC

    Perl is still popular with banks and stock brokers, because they rely on data from a large number of sources, all of it incompatible. Example, second-by-second or end-of-day data from 150 stock exchanges, each in incompatible formats. They need to be converted to a canonical form and loaded into a database or processing program. Perl is ideal because it is tolerably fast, has powerful regular expressions and test processing, and is fast to develop, compared to C/C++/Java. When a feed breaks because the exchange changed the format without prior notice ( or your bosses didn't pass down the change announcement ), you need the program updated today, not next month.

    The team I was with until June was processing 225, 000, 000, 000 records a day, in duplicate, when I left.

    As Occam said: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

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