I have two representative data points:
- About four years back, the programmer we hired straight out of college started us off using PHP. He was a very competent Perl programmer, but he said access to session info and to the database was a lot easier in PHP when doing something small. The only thing that stopped further growth of PHP development in our shop was an old BSDI Unix box that didn't handle threads properly. Without that old box, scripts in PHP (and maybe Ruby) would be a significant part of our code. There's a strong draw to knowing about and participating in the thing that's "happening". That, coupled with even moderate technical merit, is enough to draw people's attention to something.
- At a 4th of July picnic this year, an Electrical Engineering professor (whose interest is other than programming) was suprised to learn from me that Perl was a large and full featured language, and that we were planning to translate our older core software into Perl. She thought Perl was mostly just for web scripting, and pretty much the "old guard" for doing that .
IMO, Perl is a strong language, for now, with CPAN, discussion of best practices, and Perl6 doing a great deal to strengthen it. However, it's still worth paying attention to the issues raised by the OP, and illustrated by the two data points above. We want to keep our favorite language as strong as it should be.
The number of people using a language decreases when losses outnumber gains; when the number who wander off and start using something else that looks more intriguing outnumber those who try it, like it, and stay with it.
Perl needs a new, snazzy web application server right now. Something that has the performance of mod_perl but doesn't expose Apache's internals; something as easy to install as PHP or RoR, with a great name and a great API. (A toned-down version of mod_perl coupled with T2T and Mason would suffice.)
This is good advice which addresses a real need. It's worthwhile focusing some attention on this aspect of what will make perl stronger in the long term, however long it takes for Perl6 to be usable in production code.
I disagree with the OP on Perl6, both in content and style. The rewrite of the language is needed, whatever you think of the role of Parrot. Also, saying that it's taking too long just irritates those who are generously contributing their time and creativity (to whom the rest of us should be very thankful), and it does nothing to recruit more hands to the cause. It's better to say something like "Perl6 needs to get out there soon to ensure that your favorite language remains strong and healthy. Help wherever you can. Here's how ..."
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