in reply to Re^3: The Future of Perl 5
in thread The Future of Perl 5

Either the Perl culture was not designed right or that belief was wrong then.

Or your analysis is wrong.

From my perspective the haters were winning the war in 1999/2000 but now the war is essentially over, haters have limited impact in the Perl community, and Perl is set to evolve nicely over the next decade.

And there was more than this speech back then. While it was clear from the start that total compatibility was not a goal, the resulting hodgepodge of ad hoc changes is not what was promised back then.

You have misunderstood the scope of change that was talked about at the start for Perl 6; the coherent design that has emerged; and the way the latter is indeed consistent with what was promised back then.

The whole point was that Perl 6 needed to be a radical break if Perl was to remain attractive to ultra creative thinkers like Damian Conway and hundreds like him:


Anyway, this thread should be about the bright future of Perl 5 and I'm going to switch my focus to that.

I reject the thesis that Ovid's discussion of improving Perl 5 is old hat, uninteresting, and doomed to failure. I accept that it took uncomfortably long to get to where we are for Perl 5 as well as Perl 6 but I don't buy that it's worthwhile debating whether it could or should have been done any other way and I don't buy that the thing to do right now is to pour cold water on good ideas like the ones Ovid suggested.

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Re^5: The Future of Perl 5
by hippo (Bishop) on Aug 21, 2018 at 08:38 UTC
    From my perspective the haters were winning the war in 1999/2000

    My perspective is actually the complete opposite. At the Y2K, Perl was pretty much at its zenith. It was attracting some of the best minds, was widely deployed, CPAN was expanding apparently exponentially and mod_perl (v1) was arguably the jewel in the crown of IT at the time. The only "haters" in evidence were the ColdFusion advocates as their baby was being utterly thrashed by mod_perl.

    It was later on that Perl started to fade and division and hostility emerged. After the release of 5.6 there was a bit of a brain drain as some of the brightest were lured away to work on P6. The Perl core stagnated for a good few years (although not completely - unicode and threads made some good gains but those were mostly considered esoteric by the majority of the then perl user pool unfortunately) and PHP, the great pretender, achieved FPM and started the takeover. It wasn't until the release of 5.10 that we started to get the impetus back in terms of development but by then a lot of the user base had left. The opportunity had gone - maybe forever.

    The future of Perl is that it will continue to improve in terms of efficiency and features but that fewer and fewer people will care. But I will still be one of them.

      Both hippo and raiph are right. In 2000, Perl was at its zenith. But other languages were catching up, rapidly, and even though Perl was growing still in both userbase and features, other languages grew faster. And Perl was suffering badly from flamewars, lots of flamewars, hundreds of messages after each other about what now seems trivial things. I know quite some people from that time that were driven away from Perl because of the hatred and nastiness among Perl-developers at that time, and I was nearly among those. Since less than a decade, I meet some of them again, and they are quite happy with the many changes of Perl (both 5 and 6), most importantly the lack of flamewars.

      The arrival of Modern Perl (both the style and the book) made a big difference too. As did the downfall of obfuscated code, the continuation of Perl workshops and conferences, and at some point the first QA Hackathon. Books like Perl Best Practices helped too (most people understood that the chapters were not to be followed religiously, but to provoke you to make a well-discussed decision).

      The brain drain from Perl 5 to Perl 6 was minor, I think. Just one or two handfuls of people spent a lot of time on Perl 6. Later on, people from outside the Perl-community came in, like Jonathan Worthington.

      At the Y2K, Perl was pretty much at its zenith. It was attracting some of the best minds, was widely deployed, CPAN was expanding apparently exponentially and mod_perl (v1) was arguably the jewel in the crown of IT at the time.

      I agree with all of the above.

      The only "haters" in evidence were the ColdFusion advocates as their baby was being utterly thrashed by mod_perl.

      For "hater" I meant to refer to behavior rather than suggesting types or groups of people. I don't mean something specific to the Perl world. I saw similar issues in many online fora getting steadily worse as the 90s unfolded. I struggled with it myself.

      My take on it was/is that online communication encourages hostile tone deaf arguing and it's hard to manage. In many fora, then and now, younger, more sensitive/vulnerable, and friendlier folk generally leave, thicker skinned types tolerate outbursts of vitriol for as long as they chose to or have to, and habitually mean folk are mostly relentlessly mean (even if using supposedly "civil" language) except when they see the error in their ways.

      As for "winning the war", in my experience the Perl world seemed by 1999 to host a lot of unempathetic unproductive hostile arguing. Perhaps that was because it was a leader in growth and because it was a flexible, capable and widely deployed language with lots to argue about. But I consider that beside the point.

      The problem was somewhat hidden and managed in tech fora where a steady flow of newcomers arrived, especially if moderators pushed participants to generally focus on technical issues and enough old hands successfully adapted to vitriol. But that just swept the problem under the rug.

      I get the impression that you either didn't see it in 1999/2000 or saw some of it but weren't unduly concerned. I saw a lot of it and was deeply concerned, and my understanding is that Larry was too and that he instinctively jumped on Jon's mug throwing to attempt a community reboot.

      The alternative outcome, imo, if no one had done anything dramatic, would have been that younger, more sensitive/vulnerable, and friendlier folk would have continued to leave Perl or just never have gotten into it in the first place. (And to a large degree I think that that's what happened anyway, despite the Perl 6 project and early attempts by Perl 5 community leaders to improve things. But that doesn't negate the value of starting to turn things around.)

      It was later on that Perl started to fade and division and hostility emerged.

      From my vantage point the problem with hostility had already spread far, wide and deep in the Perl world by 2000 despite all the good things that were also going on.

      Division is all in the mind. We are in fact all in this together. But hostility breeds memes of us/them division and the next thing you know many are thinking it's real and worthy of emotional investment. While there was only one Perl, this was manifested as perl/not-perl. It was unhealthy but didn't appear to directly harm Perl. (It did. Those outside Perl found it repellent. But that wasn't necessarily obvious to Perlers.) Once P6 began, the scope for internal division arose.

      Where would you say Python is right now in its trajectory? Guido van Rossum recently gave himself "a permanent vacation from being BDFL" due to emotional exhaustion arising from the arguing about his decision to accept the PEP 572 (allowing assignment to return a value, i.e. the Python equivalent to say $foo = 42 works).

      Will the already hostile arguments about Py2 vs Py3 become entrenched division? There is a much stronger rational basis for seeing the Python community as divided than the Perl community given that Py2 has been officially EOL'd but many want Py2 to continue. But whether a sense of bitter communal division takes hold will be based on how they discuss it. To the degree discussion is hostile, unnecessary division will emerge. To the degree discussion is kind, a sense of a unified community will emerge.

      After the release of 5.6 there was a bit of a brain drain as some of the brightest were lured away to work on P6.

      I'm curious what you mean by lured. My fear would be that you think P6ers actively tricked P5ers into helping with P6. Hopefully you just mean P6 was more appealing. And hopefully you recognize that that is a good thing; P6 solves very deep problems P5 is still facing today because it's impossible to fix them without thoroughly breaking full backwards compatibility with the P5 language and run-time. And it needed smart minds to pull that off. Now Perl has both P5 and P6 and a bright future. As Larry said in his speech "it is our belief that Perl 5 will be better supported {by developing P6} than it would be if we merely tried to guard what we already have. The best defense is a good offense.".

      The future of Perl is that it will continue to improve in terms of efficiency and features but that fewer and fewer people will care. But I will still be one of them.

      I see a bright future. I would prefer that more and more people cared but sustainability is the key for me and that means we need kindness and an influx of young people. My hope is that those of us in the community will care for each other as well as Perl, Perl 5, Perl 6, and our BDFL. If we do that, I think the influx will take care of itself.

        I'm curious what you mean by lured. My fear would be that you think P6ers actively tricked P5ers into helping with P6. Hopefully you just mean P6 was more appealing.

        I've no idea what their reasons were for jumping ship nor what the motivations were of those who induced them (whether actively or passively or with trickery or without). It really does not matter to me - what matters is that their attention was turned elsewhere and Perl suffered as a result.

        P6 solves very deep problems P5 is still facing today because it's impossible to fix them without thoroughly breaking full backwards compatibility with the P5 language and run-time.

        I'm very pleased to say that there are quite literally no "very deep problems" facing Perl today which impact my use of it or my choice of it as a language. YMMV, of course.

        My fear would be that you think P6ers actively tricked P5ers into helping with P6.

        Why fear the truth?

Re^5: The Future of Perl 5
by Jenda (Abbot) on Aug 21, 2018 at 11:36 UTC

    What haters? There were a few trolls back then, some unix lovers showed a bit of hostility to Windozers, but generally the community was way bigger and way livelier back then. I do not see Perl being set to evolve nicely over the next decade. I see Perl6 continuing to attract tens and Perl losing ground steadily.

    "coherent design". Mkay. Sure.

    The radical break may have succeeded in making the not-at-all-Perl remaining attractive to creative thinkers like Damian Conway and (more like) tens like him at the expense of tens of thousands of others. Good job!

    Also you are mixing up things that were written with things you made up. Yes the discussion is old hat, but it is interesting to quite a few and no one but you claimed it's doomed to failure. Debating whether it could or should have been done any other way is of course pointless. We don't have a time machine to go and convince Larry to, at the very least, NOT assign the next version number to the project.

    Jenda
    Enoch was right!
    Enjoy the last years of Rome.

Re^5: The Future of Perl 5
by rje (Deacon) on Aug 29, 2018 at 21:30 UTC

    "in my experience the Perl world seemed by 1999 to host a lot of unempathetic unproductive hostile arguing"

    That was my experience, as well, but let's call that subjective.

    What is objective, is that Perl peaked around the millennium, and today is generally considered outdated. And people generally think that, regardless of the numeral that follows the name perl.

      I'm not a licensing expert but can someone fork Perl and call it something else? Problem solved! Imagine Perl forks, kinda like Linux distros, all bundled up with their own notion of core modules, etc. Can entire Linux distros be mere wrappers for applications written in Perl? Once you can fatpack your Perl app as a portable virtual machine running Linux the sky's the limit. Call it whatever you want...
        We already have forks, ask Reini or Willthechill.

        RPerl and cPerl

        A new brand needs a marketing strategy, a narrative:

        An idea and concept for the future.

        A list of improvements

        A migration trail

        Perl 6 was marketing wise initially a big success.

        Cheers Rolf
        (addicted to the Perl Programming Language :)
        Wikisyntax for the Monastery FootballPerl is like chess, only without the dice