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Re^3: What's it with Perl Syntax ?!

by ELISHEVA (Prior)
on Feb 16, 2011 at 15:09 UTC ( #888513=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^2: What's it with Perl Syntax ?!
in thread What's it with Perl Syntax ?!

I agree with this particular soap-box. The role of technology has changed profoundly in the last 25 years. Not only are human beings visual, but the entire process of marketing technology has gone visual, starting perhaps when Steve Jobs realized that you could sell computers the same way you could sell stereo sets and piano - as cool furniture.

Or consider the buzz two or three years ago about mash-ups. To someone who understands the algorithms they were little more than glorified report writers that drew data from REST and JSON feeds rather than databases. However, the visual excitement of seeing boring data found one place on the web dressed up in snazzy graphics and geolocation software made people think that suddenly programming had turned into sport anyone could play. The selling point on the IPod-touch and IPhone are great visuals and high usability - not technical wizardry. No matter how much wizardry there actually is, that is not what is selling it. I could go on. We are no more in the days of software=technology than we are in the days of autos=mechanics.

There will always be hard core engineers and artists who will immediately connect to Perl (or so I hope). However, without an avenue into the world of the visual I think Perl is likely to increasingly become a niche product relegated to scientific research and backend systems administration. That's an important niche that will guarantee jobs, but it is important to remember that it is at the bottom of the financial food chain. Sysadmin and research are cost centers, not revenue and market builders.

I see symptoms of that already. If you look at CPAN, the vast majority of modules are for programmers by programmers. There are very few modules written for the end user, non-technical web-site owner or non-programmer.

I see a vicious cycle here and GUI/distribution/mod_perl are at the heart of it. If I don't have good visual tools, I can't even think of writing a package for the end user. If most cheap webhosting companies charge extra to use Perl, I can't write to the low end web-site owner market either. If there is no push-button always-works distribution system (the modern standard), even the best package will be left with a limited audience.

The absence of end-user software and distribution systems reinforces the idea that we are still in a programmer-to-programmer world. That fantasy makes things like make-less builds, skinnable GUIs with modern event loop processing or a binary distribution depo seem like something nice to have or even silly. If they are nice to have or silly, why build them? They remain absent and hence the cycle begins again.

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