|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
Re^4: What's it with Perl Syntax ?!by ELISHEVA (Prior)
|on Feb 17, 2011 at 09:09 UTC||Need Help??|
The issue that concerns me is that those Gui-less jobs are almost always back-end jobs that are cost-centers. Although back-end systems are almost always mission critical, in nearly any corporation there is very significant pressure to keep cost-center budgets down. This has one of two effects on programmers:
First, if it is easy to find workers (because there are lots of Perl experts out there), it pushes salaries down. Managers bargain harder for a lower salary. If they don't get that lower salary from one candidate they like, they will be more willing to trade time for money and search for one they like as much but who is less pushy about pay. Since workers are plentiful it won't be that much extra time. Alternatively, if there is a second cheaper candidate who can do the job adequately but not as well, they will trade expectations for money and accept the less qualified but cheaper candidate.
Second, if it is not easy to find competent workers, salaries will remain high. In fact, they may even be higher than average, a situation developing with COBOL. According to payscale.com, the average COBOL salary in NYC is US $87,623. The average Perl salary is US $79,480. Ruby, Php, and Python for all their sex-appeal are also lower than COBOL.
However, the pressure to keep costs down will still remain. If salaries can't go lower, then the only other option is to reduce the dependence on such a high cost language. New projects will only use Perl if there is no other viable choice. There aren't a lot of projects where Perl would be the only possible choice. Better and more elegant doesn't cut it when team and long term maintenance costs are 10-30% higher than for that other less perfect language. Further, since the high salaries are due to the difficulty of finding good people, managers might well turn away from Perl simply because it is much less hassle to find good people in that other less perfect language.
If salaries and search costs for good people are high, there will also be significant pressure to replace legacy Perl systems so the installed base of Perl (and the jobs they supply) will also eventually dwindle. Just as businesses today are eager to get rid of COBOL systems whenever practical, they will start looking to replace their Perl systems as well. When business needs change they will lean towards rewrites/enhancements in a new cheaper language rather than make choices that further lock them into Perl for the long term. That warehouse distribution system (and Perl) is there, but for how long?
Don't get me wrong. There is a lot of money to be made at the bottom of the food chain supporting legacy systems. Some companies have been very successful at it. However, it is a niche market and the successful people know they are taking advantage of the dying and will have to move onto the next generation of legacy languages when the COBOL market shrinks too much.
It is taking COBOL a long time to die out, maybe even a (human) generation or two. For our lifetime and our careers there will be plenty of Perl jobs, but for Perl as a language, being relegated to the backend either means lower salaries or lower lifespan. Take your pick.