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Re: Why do people say 'Perl' is dead?!?!

by chromatic (Archbishop)
on Dec 12, 2011 at 18:25 UTC ( #943151=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Why do people say 'Perl' is dead?!?!

Two reasons with substance. (You can dismiss the reasons of people who have nothing more intelligent to say than "Wow, regular expressions look like line noise!" You'll save a lot of time flipping the bozo bit on them right away.)

First, Perl is relatively old—not C old, but well established. It's had two great surges of popularity, first with system administrators in the Perl 1 - 4 days, and then with web programmers in the early to late '90s. Certainly Perl has moved on from those niches, but a language with a killer application has trouble shaking off that label.

Second, Perl 5 is long in the tooth and has had a lot of trouble demonstrating real language evolution. Part of that is by design, where CPAN and language extensibility didn't happen by accident, but part of that is because it's really difficult to change Perl 5 to remove warts or to add important features or to make the implementation smaller, faster, simpler, easier to port, or more maintainable.

The lack of any credible Perl 6 implementation after eleven and a half years doesn't help. ("Oh, but three people are using it for side projects, and all you have to do is check out a branch from source control for each of several projects in the stack and probably most of the test suite will run" doesn't match my criteria for "Could I do something useful I care about with this software?" and especially "How much busywork will I have to do to keep this running for the next six months?")


Improve your skills with Modern Perl: the free book.


Comment on Re: Why do people say 'Perl' is dead?!?!
Re^2: Why do people say 'Perl' is dead?!?!
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Dec 13, 2011 at 04:06 UTC

    I think that it is “not quite fair,” shall we very-agreeably say, to criticize a language for not being what it isn’t, when what it is is so darned important for so many people.   When a language has been around for as long as Perl has, 100% compatibility with existing code-bases frankly becomes more important than most other considerations.   This is what pays the freight.   The true “warts” of a language, I think, fall out of favor on their own stink.

    Now, in the course of a work-week I do find myself shifting between languages like shifting between hats.   But Perl remains for me a known quantity:   it is a beefy power-tool that won’t let me down.   It is very hard to earn a positive reputation if you are a programming language ... let alone keep it for however-many years running.   The many teams who have worked on Perl (and who have built notable CPAN packages) richly deserve full acknowledgment for their masterpiece.   Warts and all.

    And I am sure that I will one day say the same thing about Perl-6 ... warts and all.

      The ability to deal with the problem of backwards compatibility has been around since at least 2000, but the will has not been there. What we have instead (the silly feature pragma) had the best of intentions.

      The only true solution has to include requiring a version declaration in every file, lest you get whatever the default behavior of the current version.


      Improve your skills with Modern Perl: the free book.

        Why do you keep saying Perl 5 is not doing well? I mean Moose and associated stuff is actually doing a pretty great job in taking care of those extensibility problems, aren't they?

        Also I think its best to leave Perl 6 folks to themselves. No one know what is going to come out of it. Worse case, all those learnings can be pulled back in to Perl 5.

        May be through a more extensible P5 core, we can get all syntax we have in P6 in P5.

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