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[RFC] What is [pP]erl to you, and how has this changed for you over the years (if it has)?

by perlfan (Vicar)
on Mar 31, 2021 at 22:22 UTC ( #11130644=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I'm just as curious about the value of this exercise as I am the answers, but I wanted to request something. Originally, I wanted to as, is perl a unix utility or is it a language?. Then I realized, this has many dimensions and I'd rather not beg the continuum of answers upfront; but it's worth at least sharing this point. Anyway, this seems especially timely given the recent discussions on p5p and elsewhere about a whole lot of things related to [pP]erl.

Some politely requested ground rules:

  • refrain from replying to anyone else (except OP)
  • please don't ++ OP, I'm not doing this for XP (-- if you must, that's not the ask)
  • upvote replies, this provides information/consensus
  • refrain from downvoting sincere replies, even trolls/rants (for real)
  • focus on your own perspective (this is not currently a debate or zero sum game)
  • feel free to post anonymously
  • post only once, feel free to edit/update your node as much as you want

Okay, so why am I doing this? For the children. (Seriously, I have a follow up about "the future"; but be patient). I'll probably give that in a few weeks. TIA

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Re: [RFC] What is [pP]erl to you, and how has this changed for you over the years (if it has)?
by eyepopslikeamosquito (Bishop) on Apr 01, 2021 at 08:10 UTC
Re: [RFC] What is [pP]erl to you, and how has this changed for you over the years (if it has)?
by talexb (Canon) on Apr 02, 2021 at 01:06 UTC

    Perl's a language, but it's also a community that supports that language, as evidenced by the Perlmongers groups (I lead the group in Toronto, Canada), The Perl Foundation (I'm taking care of the Sponsorship committee these days) and the annual conference (TPCiC, happening again this June).

    For me, it was originally a more convenient tool than writing one-off C programs to mung a file, and it ran on a variety of platforms which was really handy. Lucky chance got me in the door of a startup that needed someone to write CGI scripts in Perl, so I started doing that over twenty years ago. The language continues to entertain and employ me, and it also provides a terrific technical community.

    Now, over twenty years since picking this language up, I've looked at PHP, Python and Ruby -- they're nice languages, but I'm quite comfy with Perl. Tiobe says Perl's declining in popularity -- well, all I know is that I got cold-called a couple of times via LinkedIn for Perl jobs over the last five years, and they were thrilled that I was available, because "It's hard to find good Perl developers." So maybe it's not a popular language for new projects, but there's lots of legacy code out there that needs attention, as well as some new projects. So maybe Perl is the new COBOL?

    Finally, I'm not going to bash other languages -- I wrote an SSO plugin in PHP for Roundcube a few jobs back, and while it wasn't my favourite language, it was perfectly fine. I used the same style of writing code that I use for Perl. It worked fine, I got it done on time and everyone was happy with the result. I also adore C -- it's a blast writing in it again, and it's blisteringly fast, but my language now is Perl. It's plenty fast, very flexible, and has all of these amazing modules.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    Thanks PJ. We owe you so much. Groklaw -- RIP -- 2003 to 2013.

      Perl's a language useful of course also for "one-liner" utilities but to me its greatest strength is CPAN. Of all the many programming tools that I have worked with both recently and in the past, none of them have offered anything comparable to it. "The Perl programming language" is positively tiny, but the total ecosystem goes on forever and ever.

        Just a gentle reminder that in the root node the OP made a polite (and unusual) request to "refrain from replying to anyone else (except OP)" and to "post only once, feel free to edit/update your node as much as you want". I'm aware that in replying here I am not abiding by that request :) ... but the original AM started it by (unnecessarily) replying to talexb instead of the OP. Now, who do we know who has a long history of replying to the wrong post? :) Update: again.

          "The Perl programming language" is positively tiny ..

        Huh. My copy of Programming Perl, Fourth Edition (Christiansen, foy & Wall, O'Reilly Media, Inc., February 2012) tops out at 1,130 pages and weighs 1.7 kilos. If that's what you consider a 'tiny' language, your scale may need .. re-calibration. ;)

        Alex / talexb / Toronto

        Thanks PJ. We owe you so much. Groklaw -- RIP -- 2003 to 2013.

        "The Perl programming language" is positively tiny

        Ehhh... Wrong. Again. smh

Re: [RFC] What is [pP]erl to you, and how has this changed for you over the years (if it has)?
by Discipulus (Abbot) on Apr 01, 2021 at 07:30 UTC
    Hello perlfan,

    as I said many times, for me Perl is the only sane interaction with the machine in the sense that using perl I'm not in a passive state, being modified by the machine, but modifying it using my will and creativity.

    Once someone said that technology is always an extension or an amputation of something the human being already own.

    Perl is my extension in the computer parallel world and in what is called IT.

    I dont like to be prone and passive and so, something is interesting if I can hack it with perl, or if there is the possibility to do so. All the remaining is an amputation.

    Also perl programming is my mental excercise, my hobby, my sudoku, my sparetime activity (when the weather does not permit to dive into the sea ;). No tv nor tv series here: only perl and books and motorcycles maintenance.

    I work in IT and in the past I've used perl to automate many boring tasks, mainly on windows because this appeared to be my field and not for my choice. Now $work evolved a lot and no more room is there for the adamantine power Perl brings in everyday IT activities. Maybe I'll get my revenge one day :)

    In my opinion relegating Perl to a unix utility is like saying that a Kawasaki motor is a piece of metal alloy. Automation, data manipulation, GUI writing tool, image manipulation, network activities, consuming and serving web application, database activities, multithreading programming.. IT fields where perl is the wrong tool are very few and they are not interesting to me.

    My life with perl evolved mainly with the help of the perlmonks community, so I can add this: Perl also let me to comunicate with people with interests similar to mines and this never happened in real life in regard of perl and programming.

    Similar meditation already appeared and if you are really interested to my own perspective I invite you to read my opinions in Re: How has Perl affected you? and Re: Why did you become a Perl expert (or programmer)? as well the whole threads, very similar to the present one.

    In the end, while I can adhere to your politely requested ground rules they are at least strange: perlmonks has it own minimalistic rules and inside that frame we are all free to express ourself in the way we like.


    There are no rules, there are no thumbs..
    Reinvent the wheel, then learn The Wheel; may be one day you reinvent one of THE WHEELS.

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