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Does Perl Have a Business Plan?

by punch_card_don (Curate)
on Mar 22, 2013 at 02:50 UTC ( #1024858=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Monetary Monks,

Being just a lowly programmer, uninvolved in the bigger picture, I barely dare stick my nose in this. But the recent spate of community introspection about Perl's future did make me, in my ignorance, wonder: Does Perl have a business plan?

Such a question may be obscene to some people. But, just like any for-profit business, a lot of people have a lot invested in the Perl product. Even a peon like myself - it would be far preferable for me personally if the many hours invested in developing even my humble level of Perl proficiency (rather than some other potential money-earning knowledge) produced a decent ROI. Far preferable to having it not. I'm sorry if that's not a pure enough motivation, but the kids want food and shelter and iPads and high speed internet so they can watch Indie musicians being broke purists. In the context of the macroeconoimic theory of happiness and light, whether Perl does well in the marketplace of programming options or not doesn't amount to a hill of beans. But in the context of the opportunity cost to those individuals who have invested irreplacable time betting on Perl as one of the languages of their repertoire ('cause few of us are genius enough to learn everything) to earn a living, it matters a great deal.

Perl will produce an ROI for those investors if there is sufficient demand for Perl's product that Perl programming service providers are in demand.

For that to happen, requires all the ingredients of any decent business plan.

First, the product, Perl, must meet the market's needs better than its competitors. The best way to ensure that is real market research, investigating what the businesses that use programming want programs to be able to do, then resource identification and allocation for product development that directly addresses that research.

But the business world is littered with good offerings that still failed to win the market. Even a good product needs a marketing plan as part of the overall business plan. Few people on the production floor fully appreciate the invaluable job the marketing and sales departments do in a company. Without promotion, the best product in the world will go unnoticed, and everyone on the line is out of a job. Every successful product has a sales and marketing machine behind it.

So - for those of us who know nothing about the Perl hierarchy - does Perl have a business plan?




Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Comment on Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
Re: Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
by Anonymous Monk on Mar 22, 2013 at 03:56 UTC
Re: Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Mar 22, 2013 at 04:49 UTC
    does Perl have a business plan?

    Not really. Booking.com, Craigslist, ActiveState, EPO, and a few other companies that have been major donors have business plans which include Perl, but there's no single business organization devoted to technical guidance for the language. What happens happens mostly because individuals do things, and there's no single entity which guides their work.

Re: Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
by curiousmonk (Sexton) on Mar 22, 2013 at 08:21 UTC
    Does Perl have a business plan?

    Perl is not a business, but I get your point. See when you talk about a programming language like a business you are talking about investments in time and other resources people make in learning and using the language. Look at C, its the lingua franca of the systems programming world. Want to get anything done in the embedded programming world? its C all over the place. Similarly Java is large in corporate/large company world. Similarly Perl is too large in many places. But Perl is struggling in attracting newbies, almost anybody who wants to start learning a scripting language doesn't start with Perl these days. Same with projects. Not many people start projects in perl compared to our competitors compare this to say in the 90's there were big companies and start ups alike then used Perl for many projects eg:Amazon/Yahoo/PayPal etc. We are losing out on that space.

    a lot of people have a lot invested in the Perl product. Even a peon like myself - it would be far preferable for me personally if the many hours invested in developing even my humble level of Perl proficiency (rather than some other potential money-earning knowledge) produced a decent ROI

    I'm in the same situation as you. Lot of people have invested heavily in learning and gathering some proficiency in this beautiful language of ours. Which is by the way still very useful to solve a large range of problems. If you browse PerlMonks for some time you will discover some amazing gems. You can reuse what you learn here, else where too. But that's like translating a poem in one language to another. You can convey the meaning but the spirit is lost.

    Perl will produce an ROI for those investors only if there is sufficient demand for Perl's product that Perl programming service providers are in demand.

    Let me ask you a question. If you are a manager at a big company or a start up guy. Will you use Perl as a language for your project, when you know that Perl 5 has fewer contributors, is largely a legacy 25 year old codebase which very few know how to maintain, isn't evolving quickly enough, has to maintain backwards compatibility hence can't break existing syntax while yet having problems adding anything new and solving fundamental problems with the language

    How will you react as a manager when your are told, the language doesn't have a proper 00 syntax, or syntax for exception handling or even as simple a thing like function signatures. And that hiring programmers is getting difficult by the day, because most people are busy learning and seeking jobs in some other competing technology .In honest judgement will you use Perl as a language for you project you wish to maintain for say the next decade?

    For that to happen, requires all the ingredients of any decent business plan.

    We have a business plan, Its called Perl 6

    First, the product, Perl, must meet the market's needs better than its competitors. That requires real market research, investigating what the businesses that use programming want programs to be able to do, then resource identification and allocation for product development that directly addresses that research.

    Yes as a project, Perl 6 addresses all those points

    But the business world is littered with good offerings that still failed to win the market. Even a good product needs a marketing plan as part of the overall business plan. Few people on the production floor fully appreciate the invaluable job the marketing and sales departments do in a company. Without promotion, the best product in the world will go unnoticed, and everyone on the line is out of a job. Every successful product has a sales and marketing machine behind it.

    If there is one thing that we have enjoy and continue to, its marketing. I mean C'mon. We are talking about a language a written by a little known man without any funding or marketing resources which was able to change the very way programming languages are thought and perceived till today's date. Our nearest competitor- 'Java' a language which a large corporate poured billions of dollars worth money to market. And we did all that on just merit.

    The problem isn't marketing. The problem simply is we have done nothing new and solid for years now. Yes there is Moose and all that Modern Perl movement. But I can tell you Modern Perl was all about catching up with others.

    So - for those of us who know nothing about the Perl hierarchy - does Perl have a business plan?

    We don't need a business plan. What we need is a time plan. We need to finish projects in Time. Especially Perl 6.

    EDIT: We also need to ask this question again(http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=205308), just to check how many newbies we attract these days.

      The problem isn't marketing. The problem simply is we have done nothing new and solid for years now. Yes there is Moose and all that Modern Perl movement. But I can tell you Modern Perl was all about catching up with others.

      I respectively disagree. The problem is entirely marketing.

      Is Moose attracting new Perl programmers? Is Perl 6? Hardly. At best these are finding new life for 'existing' Perl programmers, and a very small subset at that. It' preaching to the choir.

      The kids setting their fresh new brains on learning Python, PHP or what ever flavour of the week, are flocking to them because marketing hype is telling them that's were all the other cool kids are. Not because say, Python just released a 'new version X'.

      Perl 6 will never be anything more than that 25 year old legacy language our parents use. Not without marketing to make it cool again.

        If and when P6 becomes a production-capable product, I think marketing it would be quite easy. But ...


        With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
        Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
        "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
        In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
Re: Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
by moritz (Cardinal) on Mar 22, 2013 at 13:34 UTC

    Perl is a programming language, and despite popular opinion, not self-conscious. It thus can't have a plan, and thus not a business plan.

    So the question is: Who could have a business plan?

    The best candidate might the The Perl Foundation, but it seems to be resource-starved. Occasionally there's some nice project coming from TPF, and if you ask them for help on some Perl-related topic, you often get that, but there's not much initiative coming from TPF (or if there is, I don't know about it, which means there's a marketing problem).

    Or maybe the community? But it's too diverse to have a common plan that all the members share. Even p5p is too diverse, I think.

Re: Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
by punch_card_don (Curate) on Mar 22, 2013 at 15:01 UTC
    Interesting reads, thanks.

    Just my opinion, but I think that if I were a Perl God, I would be wondering if it weren't time to start thinking of Perl in some business contexts, if someone's not already doing so.

    A typical large business owner/manager sees several facets to his company. One, as a tool to make money, 'cause, let's all admit it, money may not gurantee happiness, but a lack of it can make life pretty darn sad. Two, good businessmen really believe their product makes a positive contribution to the world in some unique way. It's better than others, or less expensive (leaving more in families' pockets for other things), or something positive. So there is a real motivation to keep the product evolving, improving, making the world better. And three, the company provides a decent living for its employees. There is a responsibility to the peons to capitalize on their personal investment and keep that living coming in.

    Perl may have been "just a language" many years ago, but it has, by its success and lengevity, acquired some of these same facets.

    It's a way that many people make their living. Because of its many qualities, it improves the world by making the programming that drives progress better, easier, more reliable. There is a real motivation to keep doing that. And, in my opinion, it has a responsibility to the many who've made a personal investment in it to do what's necessary to leverage that personal investment for further growth.

    The existing model has certainly served Perl and its community very well. But I think Perl may have reached a level of maturity in the product life cycle that going forward it will need what every successful business needs: a central directing body of people skilled in making product life-cycle decisions on technical products like languages, and a business plan that includes market research, a market positioning strategy, technical R&D, product development, and then a serious sales & marketing effort to trumpet to the world that Perl "X" has everything they could dream of in a language, and show both companies and developers that they really want to get on board.

    These are just the ABC's of any successful commercial venture. And I think Perl, despite having no shareholders, has acquired the characteristics and needs of a commercial venture.

    Now, all this would need funding. Dedicated volunteer idealists will only take you so far. So step one would be devising a plan by which some kind of funding can be had. This is one of the epic conundrums of the digital, open source, world. But it has to be solved. I don't know if Perl appeals to large corporate partners for some sort of exchange (ex: funding for advertising as a sponsor), or if there are opportunities for the Perl infrastructure to generate its own revenues (please, don't say "book sales!"), but there are people expert in finding sources of revenue for worthy projects.

    Step two is talent needs definition and acquisition. In many business cases, eventually the engineering genii who built the company must relent and let evil business development experts take the reins.

    Then the research, the strategy, the business plan, and the execution.

    I'm sure Perl 6 is wonderful. But even as Apple is rolling out the latest iPad, they still have people drumming up marketing campaigns, sales networks in high gear, and strategists already doing the market research for the next revision. That's what gives adopters confidence that this latest version isn't just a one-off, or the end of the line, and yes they can invest in it too.

    Perl is an excellent language. It's gone far on its strengths and the fervour of many visionaries. I firmly believe it has the potential to continue to fulfill those roles of improving the world and providing a living for its adherents. I think that future potential could be most fully realized by thinking more like a business venture.




    Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

      While I trust that Perl will be around for many years to come, it's certainly suffering from attrition, or at least, a lack of new recruits. Without new programmers and popular support, few will be left to just maintain what we have. Sad as it may be, the current course eventually leads to obscurity.

      OK, so what? Is it better to let Perl die of natural causes or help it survive and grow? Your inspirational "call-to-arms" clearly supports the latter. To be honest, it's ambitious enough to be a Mission Statement -- a beautiful goal which isn't necessarily realistic. It seems difficult to form such an organized campaign (and uncertain to have any significant effect) but it certainly won't happen without trying.

      As crazy as it may be (no offense), I like the idea and would love to see it actually happen. At the very least, it's nice to have hope for Perl, whether you consider it to be an end-in-itself or just one of your favorite tools. We should keep looking for opportunities to promote/maintain Perl ... at least as long as it's helpful and/or fun.

      Thanks for the well-written proposal and interesting thread.

Re: Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Mar 22, 2013 at 15:31 UTC

    And yet ... there is also another rather-unique but critically important issue with regards to computer programming languages:   legacy.

    There are tens of thousands of systems out there, comprising millions of lines of source-code, which are written in Perl this-or-that and which are in service right now.   They’re doing their job, moving the freight, paying the bills.   Although we quite-naturally might look upon the old and yearn for the new, it is quite often the case that the business need is being served quite well by the existing system and so that the number-one concern is to keep it running smoothly ... earning revenue.   It ain’t broke, etc.

    Hence, it might be argued that Perl’s “business plan” is that it continue, for many decades to come, to continue providing the mission-critical service with which it is now tasked and which it is now doing ... while also evolving in appropriate new ways, but recognizing that the old ways will never be superseded by the new.

    “Never be superseded?”   “But what about Perl n+1?”   No, it will never replace the Perl-5 legacy, and when a successor actually comes out of the academic labs, if it ever actually does so (which I personally doubt by now), it will be regarded as an entirely new language in the field and it will have to earn its keep all over again.   As will each-and-every other language in the field at that time.   A programming language tool is always a means to an end, never an end unto itself.

    Frankly, I think that it is much more likely that the language will one day be eclipsed.   That’s usually what happens:   the language remains as good as it ever was, but the demand shifts as new and more-efficient ways are found to do the same thing.   I shut down my Perl-based million-line customer relationship management system only when I outsourced that business function to Salesforce.com and then went through a staff-reduction.   (buh-bye!)   And so on.   It was, and is, a fantastic canal-boat but now we ship by railroad.

Re: Does Perl Have a Business Plan?
by Propaganda.pm_rj (Novice) on Apr 09, 2013 at 11:27 UTC

    Perl (the community, the language, the organizations) certainly did not have any "business plan". Or strategy. Or even a goal.

    I started to think about this shortly after the YAPC::EU::2012 in Frankfurt. Or to be more precise after my impressions from that event and then Matt S. Trouts "State of the Velociraptor" speech.

    The 1st talk I gave on that topic was at the LPW2012 and then the "kind-of-keynote" at the German Perl Workshop in March 2013 in Berlin (not yet online). At the talk in Berlin a goal was proposed and as the talks topic was "Umrisse einer Perl-Strategie" (outline of a Perl-strategy) we had some discussions about that also. During the three days of the GPW a bunch of people did form Propaganda.pm - The Perl Propaganda Mongers. Oh, and there will be another talk at YAPC::EU::2013 in Kiev "HowTo: Perl as the most popular scripting language".

    Perl certainly needs a goal and a strategy. And as far as we at propaganda.pm are concerned, we have a goal (Perl as the most popular scripting language). Also a strategy. The biggest challenge? Educate parts of the perl community about what is important and what not. Of course also sustain the Sh*tstorm this may^H^H^H does invoke.

    propaganda.pm - Not just another Perl Mongers Group.

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