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Re: Let's face it, Perl *is* a scripting language

by radiantmatrix (Parson)
on Aug 08, 2006 at 20:47 UTC ( [id://566255]=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Let's face it, Perl *is* a scripting language

So when people tell me that Perl is just a scripting language, I think I'm going to reply "you're talking about Perl 4, something that stop being maintained over a decade ago. Tell your programmers to stop writing Perl 4."

That's not a bad response. I tend to prefer "so the hell what?"

The only thing that really matters to management is "can it do the job?" When a PHB objects to a plan on the basis of "Perl is a scripting language", the best response in my experience is "Perl can do the job just as well as {alternative}, but I can get us there faster and cheaper with Perl". If you make that argument (and are prepared to back it up), any marginally competent manager will drop the whole "scripting language" angle.

In short, the best way to handle this objection to Perl is to point out that the distinction between "scripting language" and "programming language" is incredibly unimportant. What matters is what you can do with it.

<radiant.matrix>
A collection of thoughts and links from the minds of geeks
The Code that can be seen is not the true Code
I haven't found a problem yet that can't be solved by a well-placed trebuchet
  • Comment on Re: Let's face it, Perl *is* a scripting language

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Re^2: Let's face it, Perl *is* a scripting language
by jimt (Chaplain) on Aug 08, 2006 at 22:13 UTC

    The only thing that really matters to management is "can it do the job?"

    Ahh, if only this were true. So much management also cares about it being Windows compatible or if it's Sun's new gimmick or if IBM is going to segue the iSeries into using it or whatever. There's a lot more silliness that goes on.

    As a Mac guy, I love to talk about objective-c, which is a beautiful language. The way I've read it in the past has said (roughly) that first there was C, and then people decided, "Hey, this object oriented stuff is pretty cool! Let's make C object oriented!"

    And two things came out of it initially. C++ was C with simula style objects grafted onto it, and was designed to produce fast programs. Objective-C was C with smalltalk style objects grafted onto it, and was designed to produce fast programmers. It's an important distinction.

    The rationale was that computers are cheap and people (especially good people) are expensive. It's cheaper to put beefier hardware onto your app that you deployed in 6 months that it would be to use cheaper hardware and deploy in 18 months.

    I tend to tell people this story and add on that I really like Objective-C, because it's almost as fast as C and almost as flexible as perl. I can develop very fast in objective-c, but I can do it even faster in perl.

    And at the end of the day, that is all that really should matter. Scripting or compiled or byte code or whatever - who cares? Make the programmers faster and everything else works out. Perl's real good at that.

      There's also the simple fact that management tends to think in terms of what "customers" (whatever they may be in this case) are going to say. "Wait — you're trying to sell us an application written in a scripting language?!" PHBs feel like their credibility is shot if you use a language that's not buzzword-compliant enough.

      PS: ObjC rocks my socks, and it's not just for Macs anymore (well, it wasn't originally either, but that line sounds good).

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

        "Wait you're trying to sell us an application written in a scripting language?!"

        "I'm trying to sell you an application written with the same language as the applications that do Amazon.com's front-end and run Slashdot." (Most of my Perl is for web applications these days).

        People who care about buzzwords are followers by nature. So, all you have to do to sell them something that isn't buzzwordy is show them that big, successful organizations are using it. Any PHB who said to me "but customers might complain that it's Perl, and we'll lose business" gets the response "then you need better salespeople".

        Yeah, I know -- some people will never wrap their head around it. See, these same people will never listen to anything you have to say about Perl not being a scripting language, either. I find that it's much easier to sell the idea that the scripting/programming dichotomy is a red herring than to argue that Perl is on the programming side. Especially to non-technical people.

        Most importantly, I think trying to pitch Perl as though it's buzzwordy is, IMO, selling it far short. Worse, trying to make the argument that "really, Perl is a real langauge" gives credibility to the debate, and so serves nothing but to make the advocate seem mildly pathetic.

        Truth be told, Perl is both a scripting and programming language. You can write anything from a tiny, inscrutable one-liner to a full, buzzword-compliant application. For that reason, the debate can never be fully resolved anyhow, and getting into the argument is a lot like fighting the vi vs. emacs war. Then again, I'm one of those people who uses vi and emacs, so maybe I'm just an odd duck…

        <radiant.matrix>
        A collection of thoughts and links from the minds of geeks
        The Code that can be seen is not the true Code
        I haven't found a problem yet that can't be solved by a well-placed trebuchet

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