I know that Basecamp is in ruby, in fact RoR. I guess the same question applies to the other languages: php, python, ruby. Websites are great because the language is hidden, and there are lots of very successful ones out there (not to mention google/ebay/yahoo/amazon). But is that the only way "out" for Perl(php/python/ruby) programmers, besides selling by the hour?
Re^2: Building a Perl based business
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Here's the issue - what's the greatest strength of Perl(PHP/Python/Ruby)? It's the ability to write something and have it (almost) truly be cross-platform, not have to worry about compilation/linking, and 90% of every application is already written for you (at least in Perl). This ease comes with a price, but most scripters consider that price to be worthwhile. We'll discuss that price in a second.
What does it take for an application to succeed in the marketplace that you're describing? Well, it needs to be installable on Windows in the same fashion that Firefox is installable on Windows. You download something, double-click on something, click "Yes" a few times, double-click on something else and you're up and running.
This takes a lot of infrastructure on the Windows machine. While it's all possible to do with Perl, it makes a lot more sense to do it in a language that already has all that infrastructure in place, like C# or Java. Why compete in a space that's already saturated?
Instead, it's much better to work within a space that doesn't have that cost of entry, like rich web applications. Have you used Basecamp? It's a damn slick application - I like it ... a lot.
As for "only way out" ... I make a fine living doing exactly what you're describing, and so does nearly every other serious Perl/Python/Ruby developer. Just because it's not flashy doesn't mean it's not a good thing to do.
My criteria for good software:
Does it work?
Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?