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Re: Perl is dying

by spiritway (Vicar)
on Jul 17, 2006 at 04:53 UTC ( #561660=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Perl is dying

So, who are all these Monks who are using it? Last I checked there were >37K Monks; of these, a smaller number is active, but there are still lots of people out there using Perl.

You seem to be saying that Perl is little more than a Web language. While CGI was one reason why people used Perl, it wasn't the only one, nor was it the most important. Yes, Perl is being edged out by other Web-oriented languages, but these tend to be fairly limited in their uses. It's a niche, and perl is far too big to fit into it.

You say that a person who is new to Perl is confronted by a lot of ASCII. You run into this a lot - it's not unique to Perl. They're all a mystery when you're first starting out.

The objection to Perl being used mostly by amateurs is invalid. Again, this isn't unique to Perl, but applies to most languages I've ever seen. Of course, as an amateur, I may not see the *real* languages that the big boys use... Still, no language is immune from bad programming or amateurs.

If Perl really dies, it will be because something better has come to take its place. If that happens, then I'll reluctantly say goodbye to an old friend, and move on. But so far, I haven't seen anything come even close to what I value in Perl - ease of use, flexibility, freedom of choice, power, and - perhaps the single most valuable feature - CPAN. Most of the things I want to accomplish already have a module that does them, or that I can use as a start. I don't see this with other languages (they may exist - but I've never found anything like CPAN).

You made an interesting claim - that Perl needs to come up with something as easy to install as PHP or Ruby in Rails. I find that interesting, because I have never yet managed to get either of those installed. They are the *only* languages that I've had problems installing. PHP and RoR defeated me. Of course, I didn't really care about that, because I had Perl, and had little trouble getting it to work. I didn't bother to track down whatever I was doing wrong with PHP and RoR, and fix it. Not much incentive.

You referred us to "Code Complete" for advice on how to write better programs. This book is published by Microsoft Press. If their software is any indication of what the book will help me to accomplish, I'll pass. I'd be a whole lot more impressed if the publisher's parent company actually produced decent software, following their own guidelines.

I think Perl may be able to echo Mark Twain's response to finding his obituary published in the papers: "News of my demise has been greatly exaggerated".


Comment on Re: Perl is dying
Re^2: Perl is dying
by thraxil (Prior) on Jul 17, 2006 at 05:06 UTC

    Rejecting "Code Complete" out of hand because it's published by Microsoft Press is incredibly close-minded. You would do well to reconsider.

    I consider it to be one of the most significant programming books ever written and I'm a card-carrying Free Software Zealot (been using GNU/Linux as my only OS since 1999) with no particular love for Microsoft. I know there are plenty of far better programmers than I who would agree.

      I don't reject "Code Complete" out of hand. I bought and read it. I reject it because I read it from cover to cover, and found that its advice was either little more than common sense, or ideas that were too awkward to put into practice.

      In my opinion, Microsoft software is of poor quality. I can only conclude that they have so little confidence in their own book that they don't practice what they preach - in which case, they're hypocrites; or, they *do* follow their own precepts, in which case, they don't work.

        In my opinion, Microsoft software is of poor quality. I can only conclude that they have so little confidence in their own book that they don't practice what they preach - in which case, they're hypocrites; or, they *do* follow their own precepts, in which case, they don't work.

        Or perhaps that Microsoft Press is a separate entity from Microsoft (albeit under the same Umbrella) and very little in the form of conclusions can be drawn from either?

        I'm not sure how Steve McConnell ended up on Microsoft's label but given the quality of Code Complete and Rapid Development it's not hard for me to imagine him landing a publishing deal with O'Reilly.

        -- Argel

        Update: Fixed typos

Re^2: Perl is dying
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 17, 2006 at 09:14 UTC
    Perl is a pretty rockin' language, and we used it exclusively for many years. But about 6 years ago we switched to Python and haven't looked back much, mostly because it is so much better for dealing with large code bases. We really ran in to a limit to application size in Perl which were not factors in Python. I can't say I know much about ROR (other than hype) but PHP, while powerful, puts code in HTML, which is just a bad idea and caused us headaches on a few projects. MVC (model-view-controller) is the way to go. We keep the interface completely separate from the code now using a templating system. IMHO, Perl is being rewritten because it has to be. Perl has a different kind of life now. It is the 21st century replacement for csh, zsh, ksh, etc. But it isn't the language people will use for building large apps because it is not as good at that as other languages like Python. These languages took the ideas Perl made popular and tried to improve upon them, and some have. It seems to me that this last Perl rewrite will be the last major version of Perl to come out. It will be the old reliable, the language sys admins use and that will always work on every machine. But I think that the days of it being used for other purposes are over. J

      I never understood this point. Generally, I work with a constrained subset of Perl, because you donít need all of it all of the time, and my code is extremely consistent and regular. When Iím in a hurry, itís the structure of my programs that suffers, never the syntactic clarity. Thatís something that no language on Earth will ever save me from.

      Iíve looked at Ruby and Iíve looked at Python, but I donít see any point in switching. Python just doesnít fit the way I think Ė for me, trying to work in it is like someone keeps tugging at your legs or arms every couple of moments while youíre trying to carry a bunch of big boxes from one place to another: itís impossible to get into the flow. Ruby, OTOH, is very very nice. I like it. However, when I look at what it offers over my use of Perl, thereís the clean, get-out-my-way OO system, Ö and well thatís it. In terms of expressiveness and power, all of these languages are on equal footing. Nothing that can be done in one of them takes significantly more or less effort in either of the other two.

      So I donít understand how one of these languages can present a problem for a particular codebase that another would not.

      At this point, if I were to switch, itíd have to be to a new, distinctly more powerful language, probably a somewhat unusual one Ė maybe Haskell. Most likely I will laze around until I slip into Perl 6. But Python and Ruby just donít outpace Perl 5 in any significant fashion.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

        Nothing that can be done in one of them takes significantly more or less effort in either of the other two.

        Don't forget that Perl has better documentation and more libraries than especially Ruby.

      We really ran in to a limit to application size in Perl which were not factors in Python.

      I would love to know what this limit was.

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