in reply to Perl mailing list activity

Others have addressed the usefulness of relying on mailing lists as an indicator of a language's activity. I won't add to that.

I do think it's worth noting in this conversation of "Is Perl in decline?" a few articles in the last month or so. Two were from Dr. Dobbs: "The Rise and Fall of Languages in 2012" by the site's editor and the response from a Perl advocate's perspective by guest editor, Sammy Esmail with "Why I Use Perl...and Will Continue to Do So"

In the first article posted last month, using Google trends, Tiobe and Ohloh data to base at least part of his findings, Perl is described as:

In general-purpose scripting languages, Python continues to grow slowly, JavaScript and Ruby are treading water, and Perl continues its long decline. According to Google trends, the number of searches for Perl is 19% of what it was in 2004. Its declining role in open-source communities further cements the perception that it's in an irretrievable tailspin. One should always be careful pronouncing a language dead or dying, because rare resurrections have occurred: JavaScript and Objective-C being two stand-out cases. However, Perl is unlikely to see such a new lease on life because of direct competition from Python, which is considerably more popular (whereas Objective-C and JavaScript had no direct equivalents when they came back).

A much smaller, focused but interesting observation done in a post last month on the blog {anonymous => 'hash'}; "Improving Perl’s New Programmer Outreach" compared the activity in 2012 between Ruby and Perl Meetup groups in San Francisco:

The comparison to a Ruby group is interesting particularly given the Dr. Dobb's report's description of the language as "treading water" in 2012.

This all may still seem like a lot of hand wringing to those of us who don't have much need for these observations and just want to get things done in our favorite language. I'll let those in a better position to address their vested interest in Perl's long term health as to whether or not the amount of existing and/or new Perl programmers is an important discussion to have.

I'll end with an anecdote from this week while chatting with a few friends (all programmers with years in the field) who are not exactly fans of Perl:

$person_1: "I just spent the last $very_large_amount_of_important_TIME trying to figure out what the Hell $a, $b are and what they do. It's this kinda crap that reminds me why I don't use Perl."
$person_2: "I've used Perl three times in the last twelve years and am quite happy about that fact."
$perlmonk = 'me': "It's been a long while since I used Perl and I'm just a graphic designer but did you try print $a or look them up in perldoc perlvar? :)"
$person_1 $person_2: "..."

Have a great weekend monks :)

"...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." — Don Quixote