Dearest Monks,

many of you have certainly - in one way or another - come across the term "Killer App". It seems everyone needs them these days. Processor manufacturers to give their big iron something to chew on and to show, that anything less than a 10GHz Hextium is not worth the electric power it consumes.

Operating System vendors (or movements for that matter) need killer apps to give their base technology a boost. And finally there are Killer Apps written in some particular language. Sun certainly likes to see killer apps in Java, Microsoft most probably in C# (now).

Stroustrup would like to see them in C++, Wirth in one of his "creations", and W(e)all surely in Perl. I know of some references where Perl was used successfully (success stories - came with the o#reilly perl modules bookshelf methinks)

But this weren't real "Killer Apps".

Does anyone know of any project, that is so essential for those that use it and so significant (in terms of invested ressources), so that the users of it would think about supporting the underlying base technology?

I know of cases, where companies have ported the X Window System to Windows, just to be able to let their application run. I'm missing something similar with Perl.

Please tell me.


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Killer Apps in Perl?
by thpfft (Chaplain) on Aug 04, 2002 at 03:39 UTC
Re: Killer Apps in Perl?
by sauoq (Abbot) on Aug 04, 2002 at 00:50 UTC
    Perl is the killer app.
    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
Re: Killer Apps in Perl?
by graff (Chancellor) on Aug 04, 2002 at 06:36 UTC
    To say that there's a "killer app" for this or that programming language would mean that the language has a certain "specialization" that makes it uniquely suited to a particular use. But I don't think this works as a design goal for any major programming language.

    It's true that one language will have advantages over another in terms of particular features, but these mostly relate to the effectiveness and sanity of programmers, rather than the range of functionality (the "apps") that can be accomplished. Also, the features that are "better" in one language are usually offset by others that are better in the other -- e.g. greater run-time efficiency vs. faster development/prototyping.

    But I'd have to say that the first two replies on this thread are totally correct. Perl is an application that is platform independent, and provides users with a degree of power and flexibility that is hard to beat. And CPAN -- especially -- is something quite unique: an intelligent, easy-to-use tool that really delivers the promise of re-usable code (a stark contrast to, e.g., the "dll hell" of MS-based C++ apps; I always wonder how many functions, in how many different dll files, were written independently to do the same thing... or try to do the same thing, but fail in their various independent ways.)

      To say that there's a "killer app" for this or that programming language would mean that the language has a certain "specialization" that makes it uniquely suited to a particular use.

      Well, I do think it worked for PHP -- somehow, PHP for a lot of people really caught on as the thing to write dynamic webpages in. And while some people also try to do system admin and cron stuff in it (you will recognize the beginner by seeing commands like 'lynx -dump http://mydomain/script.php' in his cron table), (fortunately) it is mostly limited to the web right now.

      I never quite understood why -- I guess if PHP would not have the '<?' and '?>' tags, but would per default work like perl (ie., use an extra module/different workflow to embed code into HTML), it would not really have caught on.

Re: Killer Apps in Perl?
by marmot (Novice) on Aug 04, 2002 at 16:55 UTC

    First, I have to agree that a killer app for a language is a fuzzy concept at best. Email is a killer corporate app, Office is a killer Windows app (or suite), the Web is the killer app that brought the Internet out of the geek closet and into everyone's conciousness. But those are all specific contexts. In the Perl context, though? CPAN probably is the killer app. Perl regexes were for a long time, such that if you thought about text munging, you automatically thought of Perl. What did you have in mind when asking the question?

    But since this came up, I thought I'd share some thoughts I've had recently. What's to become of Perl? It no longer shines on a resume; instead it appears on job descriptions as part of "Python/Perl/Shell" or just "scripting experience". The old cowbell of "ugly code" is heard more and more, with people who don't know what they're talking about mentioning Python or Ruby to show how Perl is no longer relevant.

    And now, with Perl 6 on the horizon, everyone who considered him/herself a Perl hacker will be crippled while learning the new language; CPAN will be suspect as you work out whether a module you like will work with Perl 6; every book written about Perl will be out of date, referring to the "old" syntax. Is Larry/Perl forging something new, using the same insight that synthesized existing technology into something uniquely useful? Or are we playing catch-up?

    I'd rather Python/Ruby/Java developers feel they had to learn Perl to stay relevant than the other way around.

Re: Killer Apps in Perl?
by FoxtrotUniform (Prior) on Aug 04, 2002 at 19:41 UTC

    You might be able to count slash.

    Like it or not, slashdot is the epicentre of Internet geekdom, where most of the proto-hackers (and some of the true hackers) congregate, or at least read news. I doubt that many of them haven't at some point thought "Wow! I wanna make my home page just like Slashdot!" (or perhaps "K3wl! 1 w4nn4 m4k3 my h0m3 p4g3 ju5t l1k3 sl4shd0t!") and come across the name of a certain practical extraction and reporting language.

    F o x t r o t U n i f o r m
    Found a typo in this node? /msg me Hate the new signature? /msg me