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

Over at Slashdot they're running a poll asking "Most Useful Scripting Language To Learn?" Perl is currently in third place with 16% of the votes. It trails Python (29%) and Bash (19%).

I find the Bash ranking, with 10% more votes than Perl, puzzling.

Two questions:

  1. Do you agree with the Slashdot crowd wisdom?
  2. Have you cast a vote in this poll?
I don't and have. What about you?

Update/Confession I posted this to motivate monks to get over to Slashdot and vote. It's a form of advocacy.

Be Appropriate && Follow Your Curiosity

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by ww (Archbishop) on Aug 06, 2012 at 02:49 UTC
    And there was a time when the question of 'how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?' was a compelling (not to say, 'critical') issue for some of the best (theological) minds of the age.

    Worrying about results of a /. poll makes about as much sense.

      As I understand it the angels dancing on the head of a pin question was never a serious topic of debate, but just an example put into the mouths of late medieval rhetoricians to make them seem ridiculous. Of course they did in fact debate some ideas which we'd judge fairly ridiculous these days, but there are no contemporary records indicating that this particular question was a topic for debate.

      Kind of like how people these days assert that Columbus' contemporaries worried about him sailing off the edge of the Earth. They did not. The fact that the Earth is roughly spherical was known to Aristotle. Their concern was that he'd vastly underestimated the distance to Asia. The royal courts of Portugal, Genoa, Venice and England rejected sponsoring his proposed voyages for that reason; the Spanish had reservations but gave him the benefit of the doubt. It turned out his critics were right; Columbus would never have made it to Asia without running out of food and fresh water; he was extremely fortuitous to find an entire super-continent blocking his path.

      If only those medieval philosophers had had Perl...

      use 5.010; # See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders_of_magnitude_(area). use constant AREA_OF_THE_HEAD_OF_A_PIN => 2.000; # square millimetres # Based on the assumption that angels are non-corporeal. use constant SPACE_TAKEN_UP_BY_ANGEL => 0.000; # square millimetres + my $angels = 0; my $area_remaining = AREA_OF_THE_HEAD_OF_A_PIN; while ($area_remaining > 0) { $angels++; $area_remaining -= SPACE_TAKEN_UP_BY_ANGEL; } say "$angels angels can fit on the head of a pin";

      Of course, the above assumes that angels tessellate perfectly. But I consider that to be a reasonable assumption. An angel that did not tessellate would not be especially angelic.

      perl -E'sub Monkey::do{say$_,for@_,do{($monkey=[caller(0)]->[3])=~s{::}{ }and$monkey}}"Monkey say"->Monkey::do'
Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by aaron_baugher (Curate) on Aug 06, 2012 at 01:35 UTC

    At first I found the bash figure puzzling too, but that's probably because I've been around long enough and used enough different *nix OSs that I think of bash as just one of many shells. But for many people whose only *nix experience has been on Linux, "bash" is synonymous with "shell," so I assume many of those selecting bash really meant "shell scripting."

    Looked at that way, I do think a certain amount of shell scripting is very useful. I've gotten a lot of productivity out of "for i in *; do something; done" and other basic shell constructs over the years. I'd hate to have to do any serious programming in shell, though. One time I tried to work on a fairly complex bash program (I was trying to port it from Linux to FreeBSD, and if you're wondering why a shell script would need porting, so was I), and it was painful.

    I suppose another way to put it would be to say that shell scripting is a critical skill for system administration, but not for much else. A sysadmin might be able to get away with not knowing Perl, but he needs to know shell. On the other hand, Perl is useful for almost anything, but not required for any particular task.

    Python is right out.

    Aaron B.
    Available for small or large Perl jobs; see my home node.

Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by rovf (Priest) on Aug 06, 2012 at 08:17 UTC
    I think these figures also depend a lot on how many users have experience with a certain language, so a "useful" language with a small user base will likely get less vote.

    For example, when it comes to Shell programming, I use a lot bash and zsh, and find zsh much more useful, simply because it contains many more (useful) features. Still, zsh isn't shown on top of the list - perhpas because many more users are exposed to bash first, and hence don't bother to learn a second shell programming language. Aside from this, putting bash and Perl into the same boat for "scripting" tasks is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, not the least because "scripting" is such a foggy term. I use both (plus Ruby and, occasionally, Python), and I feel that it helps a lot if you know at least one shell (bash, zsh, ksh) PLUS one higher level language (Perl, Ruby, Python, ....). As long as you do "only" simple tasks for automating routine jobs (which is what probably could be understood by the word "scripting"), it is a very academic question which one is "better". I have an slight inclination for the combination zsh/Ruby, but feel completely comfortable doing my job in bash/Perl too, because the differences between them are small.

    Ronald Fischer <ynnor@mm.st>
Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by Jenda (Abbot) on Aug 06, 2012 at 14:37 UTC

    Looks like pythonistas have no better place to hang out than /.

    Enoch was right!
    Enjoy the last years of Rome.

      exactly, and they will never have something so wonderful as a perl monks for python


Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by flexvault (Monsignor) on Aug 06, 2012 at 13:38 UTC


    Did you notice the 'script' used to tally the votes?


    I hope the author of the poll also voted a few times!

    "Well done is better than well said." - Benjamin Franklin

      Slashcode is Perl based, or at least was.

      Be Appropriate && Follow Your Curiosity

        <i? Slashcode is Perl based, or at least was.

        It still is, and AFAIK, slashdot still runs on slashcode

Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 06, 2012 at 01:44 UTC

    What is slashdot?

    Oh wow, its literately been years since I visited

Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 07, 2012 at 06:15 UTC

    People really use useful and fashionable interchangeably

    Just like how vim has suddenly become the most productive editor ever(Even around 2-3 years back there were no talks of it, now every two days vim stories are trending on reddit/HN/slashdot). Suddenly people have discovered Test driven development(The shocking thing is some believe Ruby community *invented* it through rails)...

    Fashion changes! So don't be shocked if the same people find something else that is famous useful just 2 years from now. Mean while, the guys who are actually good at doing things use what is most appropriate for doing a task and finish it.

Re: Python and Bash more useful than Perl?
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 07, 2012 at 03:50 UTC

    Update/Confession I posted this to motivate monks to get over to Slashdot and vote. It's a form of advocacy.

    Congratulations, you've bumped perl by 100 votes