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Well, *Is* Perl Dying?

by spiritway (Vicar)
on Jul 18, 2006 at 16:30 UTC ( #562053=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

When Anonymous Monk wrote that Perl was dying, my first response was rage that someone was talking that way about my beloved Perl. However, the article was well-written, the comments presented in a reasonable, non-trollish way, and I found myself having to take a closer look at Perl, why I used it, and where I thought it was going.

My conclusions didn't change. I'm still using Perl, I still intend to use it, and I believe it will be around for a while yet. But Anonymous Monk did a service by requiring me to think about what Perl meant to me. Like many people, I tend to get into ruts, habits that become familiar, comfortable, and eventually stagnating. It doesn't make much sense to challenge everything, every day - but it does make sense to question things every now and then, to review whether this or that habit is still working for me, or whether I would be better served by something else. Anonymous Monk shook me out of my comfortable drowsiness, got me angry, and forced me to take another look. No, I'm not ready to make any changes just yet - but I didn't really know that until I took the time to think about it. So thank you, Anonymous Monk, for p*ssing me off and forcing me to reflect. I still don't agree with you, but now I at least have some idea why I don't. Oh, and BTW, your fears of being severely downvoted weren't realized. More people upvoted your node, than downvoted it.

Update: The link to this node was inoperative when I last checked. However, this external link might work. Thanks to ww and Arunbear for their suggestions regarding linking to the article.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Jul 19, 2006 at 08:52 UTC

    If you don't use Perl, it's easy to think it's dying because you don't see how extensively it's used every day. I really don't have problems getting Perl jobs and frankly, from my perspective working with the Perl Foundation, I'm quite pleased at how much more widespread Perl is than I had previously thought. However, what if you do use Perl extensively? You see that its phenomenal growth rate has slowed down and you start to get nervous when you see the silly "Perl is Dead" type of talk. The reality is simple: Perl could never sustain its growth rate and now we see its popularity going through up and down cycles. That's pretty much what we see out of any other popular language.

    For more evidence, see the TIOBE programming index. Despite dropping, Perl is currently in 6th place. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of languages used all over the planet for production work, Perl is solidly in the top 10. Regardless of what your field is, wouldn't you be happy to be in the top 10 out of hundreds? Probably.

    If people are concerned about Perl, there are legitimate reasons to be. Perl is showing its age. We've broken a lot of ground for dynamic languages and more recent languages have learned from our mistakes. That's a nice little gift for them, but Perl's use is extremely widespread and it's going to be around for a long time to come.


    New address of my CGI Course.

      I'd just like to say that this is by far the most compelling argument I've seen sofar. Thanks, Ovid.
Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by Zaxo (Archbishop) on Jul 18, 2006 at 16:43 UTC

    Well, lots of people showed up for the funeral. Then the corpse danced.

    After Compline,

Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by perrin (Chancellor) on Jul 18, 2006 at 17:58 UTC
    Perl is in high demand compared to the other languages which we are supposed to be worried about. But beyond that, why should we care if another high-level open source language ever becomes more popular than Perl? Most of us could switch to one of the others without much bother. It's not as if everyone was suddenly returning to assembly language or something.
Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by explorer (Chaplain) on Jul 18, 2006 at 18:37 UTC
    Perl is not Dying...

    Perl is Evolving to a new life form.

    Look the next code, that it run perfectly today:
    #!/usr/bin/perl # # Perl CubeBorg Core Code (PCCC) # use PHP; use Java; use JavaScript; use Inline Python => 'DATA'; # Mr. DATA is working for us use Inline Ruby => 'DATA'; use Inline Basic => 'DATA'; use Inline C => 'DATA'; ### motto; ### PHP::eval(<<EVAL); $search = array ('@my@i','@me@i'); $replace = array ('our','us'); $new_brain = preg_replace($search, $replace, $old_brain); EVAL ### my $runtime = new JavaScript::Runtime; my $context = $runtime->create_context(); $context->eval(q! function starcubeborg() { write("The CubeBorg is running!<BR>"); } !); ### my $java = new Java; my $frame = $java->create_object("java.awt.Frame","Perl CubeBorg"); $frame->setSize(400000,400000,400000); $frame->show(); my $weapon = $java->create_object("java.awt.Button","Push Me :)"); $java->do_event($button,"addActionListener",\&event_handler); sub event_handler { my($object,$event) = @_; if ($object->same($weapon)) { print "You pushed my button!!\nYou are dead!!!"; } } ### Technologies ### __DATA__ __Python__ def surrendered(x): print "You are surrendered!!!" return x def kidnap(x): print "I take you!!!" return x __Ruby__ def add_distinctiveness(a) our_distinctiveness + a end __Basic__ 010 DEF DEFEAT(S) = DEFEATS+1 020 DEF SUCCESSES(S)= SUCCESSES+1 __C__ void motto() { printf( "We are the PerlBorg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. +" "We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to o +ur own. " "Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.\n"); }
    More info for Cube Borg
Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by jhourcle (Prior) on Jul 18, 2006 at 16:50 UTC
    Well, *Is* Perl Dying?

    Please define 'dying' as used in this context.

    Are there relatively fewer 'perl programming' threads found by Google? Yes.

    Is Perl no longer a useful language? No.

    Are there niches where Perl used to be the favored language, but isn't anymore? Yes.

    Are there no niches where Perl is the favored language? No.

    Just like statistics -- I can come up with a side of the argument that I wish to support, and come up with numbers and references to support it.

Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by exussum0 (Vicar) on Jul 18, 2006 at 21:25 UTC
    The way I'm slowly understanding it is, all languages have a use. All of them. Look at fortran, basic, perl, c, etc etc.. Some, you have no choice to use, like ASM, so let's skip that one. Anyway, you have all of these languages, and a new one pops up. It gets used for one thing or another. It's novel. People like the syntax and the usage and it gains some traction. Then it loses its luster. That isn't it though.

    The language has most likely, filled a few niches. The C language is THE thing you write your OS in once you can write a C compiler for your OS, or can cross compile from another OS. BASIC and COBOL found niches of their own, such as being implemented in every damned place, or as a business language. A niche does not mean that it cannot spill over into other realms, and stay usable. I.e. using C to what PHP excels at.

    I believe Perl gained popularity in text processing and the likes as sed and awk are not, something. Elegant? Easy? Just not something. CGI is just that though, text processing, and that's where things got really easy for Perl in gaining a niche. At least until "better" ways came about. Some will argue php to gained traction as being easier than Perl over CGI. PHP did something that perl couldn't at that time, which is to become novel.

    Where does Perl fit in? It makes easy things brain dead easy, and hard things possible for a lot of things, nothing uberly-specific. Will it die? As long as there's a need for a jack-of-all trades, master of none, yes, perl can do this and more. It's as if Perl became the new shell programming. You can string enough tools, in the form of CPAN modules together, and you can do some things with so little effort, it's criminal.

    Will php live on in a niche, like c is for system programming, perl as a do-it-all language, and what not? Maybe RoR will kill it off? Who knows?

    One could argue java is a better business language, but so was cobol at one point. It seems that well written languages seem to last longest because they fit their niches well by design. I'd argue Perl5, while ugly at times, is well written. It will last for some time longer as C and Fortran has in their niches. But watch out, when Perl6 comes out, everyone will go ga-ga, and the cycle occurs. *again*

Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by marto (Cardinal) on Jul 18, 2006 at 17:52 UTC
    <joke>I just asked my magic 8-ball, the answer was 'My sources say no.'</joke>

Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Jul 18, 2006 at 17:55 UTC
    However, the article was well-written, the comments presented in a reasonable, non-trollish way...

    I thought it was full of half-truths, logic errors, distortions, and all deliberately chosen as provocative. It's been a couple of months since the last whiny anonymonk posted a discussion with that title, too.

      Add in the victim complex that he was going to be abused for speaking out against Perl. Oh well this will reload in a couple months or at least continue on

        To a certain extent, that's a valid concern: there are certain things you Simply Don't Say at PerlMonks (if you value your XP much). One is that Perl is dying. Another is that guns aren't evil incarnate. Yet another is that the XP system is sometimes self-defeating, in terms of its supposed goals. I've experienced first-hand the bizarre, spiteful, underhanded negative rep stalking that can occur here from time to time — in fact, I've experienced it twice. It doesn't stop me from proudly sticking my name on any controversial opinion I share here, but it does give comments such as yours (dismissing rep abuse as though it were the subject of nothing more than a paranoid fantasy) some interesting perspective.

        Victim complex? Hardly. Whether or not that anonymonk cares too much about XP is certainly a little more worth examining, though.

        print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
        - apotheon
        CopyWrite Chad Perrin

Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by CountZero (Bishop) on Jul 19, 2006 at 06:07 UTC
    I used to be a strong believer in Visual Basic, back when it was still Visual Basic 4, then it changed into Visual Basic 5 which was indeed even better. Then along came version 6 which didn't suit me anymore and I haven't even looked at Visual Basic.NET (well at least not after I saw its price tag).

    Things change and we all change too and what may suit us today may be totally wrong tomorrow.

    Perl is not dying, but maybe something Perlish has died in some of us. Is that bad? Certainly not: it just opens up some more space to evolve.


    "If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler." - Conway's Law

Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by jimt (Chaplain) on Jul 19, 2006 at 00:24 UTC

    See, I get so riled up on the subject because I really truly love Perl and I don't want to see it fade away into just another niche language. I don't think Perl's ever going to die (COBOL is still going strong, after all), but it may fade into the background if we're not careful.

    I want to make sure we take over the world. Is there really any harm in that? :-)

Re: Well, *Is* Perl Dying?
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 18, 2006 at 16:48 UTC
    I get a 403 (page forbidden) error when I try to even view the discussion.

    I think we're not supposed to talk about it anymore. :-(

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