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Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?

by DigitalKitty (Parson)
on May 11, 2002 at 23:09 UTC ( #165951=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

DigitalKitty has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Hi all.

After seeing, I was wondering what skills you would encourage an aspiring perl programmer to obtain before they apply for that lucrative position.

  • Amount of time spent learning / working with Perl?
  • CGI?
  • DBI ( MySQL, PostgreSQL, ODBC, etc. )?
  • Security?
  • A variety of web servers ( Apache, IIS, Zeus, etc. )?

  • Comment on Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by FoxtrotUniform (Prior) on May 11, 2002 at 23:27 UTC

    Security's a good one, but AFAICT there isn't a good way to say "I know how to write secure code, and here are the credentials to back me up" unless you've spent some time on the OpenBSD audit team or something.

    Personally, I think you're looking at skills from too low a level. If I hired someone for an even remotely lucrative position, I'd expect them to be able to pick up pretty much all of the above (except maybe security) in a week or two at the outside. I'd rather see that they can write solid code, have a good background in computing science (not the same thing as having a CS degree -- the two are so separate in my experience as to be completely orthogonal), and are interested in continual improvement.

    Pick up a couple of other languages besides Perl. You shouldn't need to become expert in them: the point here is to broaden your experience and expose yourself to other ways of doing things. Do some CGI, some DBI, some systems programming... don't tie yourself down to one technique. (HR people seem to love advertising for very specific positions -- "Visual C++ 6.0/MFC 2.17 programmer needed" -- but any technical manager you're going to want to work for will be more impressed by a broad skillset than a passel of buzzwords.)


Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by Dog and Pony (Priest) on May 11, 2002 at 23:49 UTC
    No matter what you choose to learn, the best thing of them all is to have stuff to show. Even if it isn't directly related to what the job description says, showing just about anything that does it's job is a good thing. It shows you can produce results.

    And while you are at it, producing show off cases, you will find that you will learn a broad set of areas if you are anything like me. Say you start out to so a simple web page, with some dynamics. So you check ot CGI, and get the hang of it, pretty soon you will want to test this locally. So you install, say apache. Then you want to use some SSI, or mod_perl, and you want to password protect a directory. So you learn som basics on how to configure your web server. Then you decide you want to have users that can log in. So you start to learn DBI, SQL and the tweaks and quirks of a database. Not to mention, you learn how to install and administrate these things. Then you are concerned that someone might hack your users - so you read up on securiry, encryption, maybe even play with SSL.

    You see where I'm getting at, yes? Something I think you should do, and this is a part I'm having trouble with privately, is to find *actual* projects you want to do. It might be something that scratches and itch, or just something you find interesting, whether it is your own site about your hobby, or a word processor for sci-fi authors.

    Whatever your choice is, you will learn lots, and automatically broaden your view.

    If you want to be good at perl, don't think too much about what parts of you need to know, just try to be a fluent speaker of the language, and learn how to find the information and the modules you need. This is one of the cornerstones of productivity in my world; the ability to find the tools you need, and the manual on how to use them when you do need them.

    Hope that helps. :)

    You have moved into a dark place.
    It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by tachyon (Chancellor) on May 12, 2002 at 01:07 UTC
Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by MrCromeDome (Deacon) on May 12, 2002 at 01:00 UTC
    I couldn't agree more with brothers FoxtrotUniform and Dog and Pony: pick up a couple of languages, and tinker with the things that interest you. The more you tinker, the more you'll learn, and the more things you might find to learn.

    A quick thing about database programming: learning DBI is easy. Without ever having touched Perl before, I was able to put together some CGI scripts that displayed information from a database in mere minutes - but only because I knew some SQL. Focus on SQL. While there are some database abstraction modules available, I feel that they limit a person's understanding of how a database is structured and how to work with them. While every implementation of SQL is somewhat different, the concepts are the same and are portable from development tool to development tool. It's neat being able to take what I know about SQL and use it in Visual C++, Perl, and Powerbuilder.

    And from personal experience. . . picking up CGI with Perl may be easier with Apache than with IIS. Granted, I've seen some really neat things done with Perl on IIS, but I don't think it's as easy as Apache for someone trying to learn. And, you don't have to worry about security quite as much with Apache ;)

    Hope this helps :) Good luck to you!

Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by tmiklas (Hermit) on May 12, 2002 at 01:14 UTC
    Personally I'm sure that the most important thing is your knowledge and skills - even if you learned everything you know in your free time, at home - just becouse you like it.

    Once I've beed working as an advisor - the company just wnated to know who (i think) woulf fit the best. Well - nobody asked anybody about any certificates, etc. There was one guy, who thought that he would be somebody special becouse of his RedHat Admninistrator Certificate or something like this. In fact, his application landed in the waste bin immediatelly he left the room. Why?!
    He had a certificate, but had nothing to show. When he answered our questions he never got to the point... That's all. The first approach is that you have a certificate and they assume you know what to do. The second is that you have a certificate and work as you were told to - no evolution, just a learned template. Which one is better - it depends...

    Personally I've never tried to find a job as a programmer, becouse I know, that there are people, who know Perl (for example) much better than me - so I just keep tring to improve my skills and have some fun :-)

    Good luck!
    Greetz, Tom.
Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by Popcorn Dave (Abbot) on May 12, 2002 at 03:59 UTC
    Dog and Pony got it right on the mark when he was talking about projects that interest you.

    Having just finished a beginning and advanced class in Perl, we had to do a personal project for our final assignment. It was quite amazing to see the depth and lack of depth in the assignments.

    Some people did programs because they were easy. Others did things that they were going to use in their work. Myself, I did a headline ripper, a regex trainer and an image mapper.

    The point is, what you can't leave out of the equation is your imagination. Push yourself as much as you can. You'll be suprised what you can do.

Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by tmiklas (Hermit) on May 12, 2002 at 01:27 UTC
    I think that the most important hing is your knowledge and skills.
    Once I've been working as an advisor - the company wanted to know who (i think) would fit the best. We had a guy with a certificate that 'confirmed' his skills; skills he learned at the course and used as a template - and he had nothing to show (except his certificate). Immediatelly after he left the room, we have wasted his application. Why? The certificate is only a piece of paper - the real value is knowledge and skill! If company likes you 'offer' then you get the job :-)

    Update: Sorry for duplicate entry - my browser had critical error and by mistake I've wrote my reply second time.

    Good luck!
    Greetz, Tom.
Re: Suggested skill set for aspiring perl programmer?
by strat (Canon) on May 14, 2002 at 11:36 UTC
    Another point might also be very important: try to get some references from your customers (don't know how they are called in english; sorry); because if the new customer sees that you have successfully done something special for the big company xzy, you could be able to do something similar for his company.

    Best regards,
    perl -le "s==*F=e=>y~\*martinF~stronat~=>s~[^\w]~~g=>chop,print"

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