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Compelling arguments urgently required

by Jonathan (Curate)
on Feb 06, 2002 at 17:44 UTC ( #143653=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

During an IT seminar at work, in a moment of drunken bravery, I approached the IT Director and asked whether 'we' could make a contribution to the Perl Foundation. I quickly mentioned how much we use Perl in my area, thats its free and that support from the Perl community was fantastic. He asked me to E-mail him details and promised to seriously consider the request.

I should point out that I work in London for a major City Bank with a global presence. Most application development these days is in Java with either Sybase or Oracle. Walking round the IT areas There is always a Camel nestling amongst the Java spam. I know the Unix and NT administrators use Perl and most teams use it a bit. There are also quite a few mod_perl/Apache servers on our intranet. In my particular area I'm lucky enough to use Perl for everything. (getting paid for it!

I want to make as good as case as possible. Can anyone think of arguments I could use?

Apologies if this should have been posted under 'Seekers of Perl wisdom'

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by mstone (Deacon) on Feb 06, 2002 at 22:10 UTC

    Well, there's no compelling reason, for the strict definition of 'compulsion'. The whole point of open source software is that you can ride for free if you want to. There are no gates you can only pass through if you grease the appropriate palms, and no rights you can buy above and beyond those given away for free.

    So it comes down to a question of philosophy -- of ethics, in the sense of 'ethos': the character and values of an individual or group. Within that range of arguments, the one with the most obvious payback is enlightened self-interest: helping someone today so they can help you tomorrow.

    Everyone can ride in Perl's wagon for free, but the wagon won't move unless someone is willing to push.

    If everyone waits for someone else to get out and push, the wagon isn't going to move.

    Of course, the wagon does move, and continues to move, due to the generosity of people like Larry Wall. Larry will keep pushing the Perl wagon whether anyone else helps or not, because it's work he finds interesting. And since Larry is a flat-out admirable human being, he'll let anyone else ride in his wagon, because he's going that way anyhow.

    Thing is, Larry can only push the wagon when he's not busy doing other things -- things like earning enough money to keep body and soul together. And while it may be heresy to say things like this, Larry isn't The Best Person to solve every problem in the world. There are other people who can push some parts of the Perl wagon faster than Larry can, and those people also want to keep body and soul together.

    An ad-hoc community of people scratching their own personal itches can crank out a whole lot of code, but that code will be nebulous and undirected. There's no guarantee of quality or coherence, and the work is likely to stall at a point where what exists is 'good enough for now'. As much as we geeks traditionally hate managers, honesty forces us to admit that it takes more than sheer code volume to keep a project directed and coherent.

    A scratch-my-own-itch, good-enough-for-now environment wastes a lot of energy because it forces people to choose between reinventing the wheel and using a 245-pound wheel composed of equal parts tread, bald spots, patches, studs, bent-over nails, and chains, with cleated bulldozer treads as an optional extra. Mediocre or just plain bad solutions achieve wide adoption because they're better than nothing, and the people who use them need something that works now. Then you end up with a de facto standard of badness that can only be blasted out with dynamite, because nobody wants to give up bug-for-bug compatability with the existing bad standard.

    Sure, everyone wants to use tools that were designed thoughtfully, implemented carefully, and crash-tested thoroughly -- but that takes a lot of time and work, and a scratch-my-own-itch environment doesn't promote that kind of development. For tools like that, it really helps to get a bunch of talented people together, and give them the freedom to concentrate.

    That means taking the distractions out of their way, including the requirement to keep body and soul together, and the nagging question of whether life will be worth going back to once the work has been done.

    In short, you have to make people comfortable.

    That sounds kind of huggy-feely, but when you get right down to it, programming is entirely a mental game. All the hard work involves thinking, and people don't think any faster or better when they're tense, worried, or under pressure.

    So to reduce the whole thing to enlightened self-interest, your company wants its programmers to be productive. It wants solutions that work, it wants them as quickly as possible, and it doesn't want to get mired in a tarpit of kludged-together code that was the best anyone could be expected to do under the circumstances.

    In short, your company will benefit from having its Perl coders use better tools.

    And since there's no organization whose survival depends on getting better tools to market now, all you can do is contribute to an organization that wants to make a bunch of really talented people comfortable enough to develop good tools.

    Additional benefits include:

    • good PR
    • potential tax write-offs
    • credibility with internal programming staff (when was the last time you saw a company willing to do jack-shit about giving its programmers better tools?)
    • better appeal to potential employees (wouldn't you send a resume to company known to do something good for its programmers?)
    • It gives managers a can of whupass to open on any programmer who tries to fob off substandard code.
    • It makes your company known to the top-flight developers in the field. That can be handy if your company decides it's it's willing to pay to have one of its own itches scratched.

    Feel free to quote, copy, alter, fold, spindle, or mutilate this text as your need demands.

Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by perrin (Chancellor) on Feb 06, 2002 at 21:01 UTC
    Take a look at how much your Java stuff and your databases cost. Then look at how much Perl costs. Clearly Perl is worth more than zero dollars to your company, so why not simply consider this paying for a tool that has served you well?

    You could also consider this as an investment in ongoing support and development of one of your major tools.

Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by simon.proctor (Vicar) on Feb 06, 2002 at 21:50 UTC
    Well theres a few things I can recommend. Ignore or use as you see fit :)

    1) Features, advantages, benefits

    How does Perl feature in your companys' work, the advantages of using Perl (cost of tool, time to prototype, difficulty of other languages) in your work and the benefits Perl provides (slightly different to advantages).

    2) Give a very short case study of how Perl has saved money in your organisation (no more than 2-3 paragraphs at the very most).

    3) Compare the use of Perl in your work with another tool.

    Something like..... I do this in Perl, to do it in Java would take x. This means that I save, on average, £mega with every project.

    If you think about it for long enough you should be able to find 4-5 examples of where you can champion Perl. Don't provide those but have them on standby in case he asks for more details (so you look prepared ;P).

Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by Kit (Monk) on Feb 06, 2002 at 20:31 UTC

    One thing you might mention, from an Advertizing/Marketing point of veiw, is that if they give a donation of 1000+ dollars they can have a company logo with a link to their web site posted on the donations page.


Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by gellyfish (Monsignor) on Feb 06, 2002 at 21:44 UTC
Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by belg4mit (Prior) on Feb 06, 2002 at 21:21 UTC
    There's always the argument that's it's probably simply just the right thing to do (poor student here is working on getting in a donation).

    Beyond that if you like the idea of Perl 6 (or thedamian's modules) and some of the things will really help with what you do you might justify a donation by saying that the funding will promote more rapid development of said poison.

    perl -pe "s/\b;([st])/'\1/mg"

Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by adamsj (Hermit) on Feb 07, 2002 at 01:33 UTC
    The suggestion of going through the archives of the Perl advocacy list is a good one. Joining that list and asking your question there is also a good idea, albeit one that will get you bad advice along with the good.

    Look particularly for Phil Moore's posts. He's at Morgan Stanley where he's had success with getting his company to help fund Perl development. Even better, he's candid about the areas in which he hasn't been successful.


    They laughed at Joan of Arc, but she went right ahead and built it. --Gracie Allen

Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by Chmrr (Vicar) on Feb 06, 2002 at 21:53 UTC

    To add to those already listed, the bottom half of this page lists the benefits of donating.

    perl -pe '"I lo*`+$^X$\"$]!$/"=~m%(.*)%s;$_=$1;y^`+*^e v^#$&V"+@( NO CARRIER'

Re: Compelling arguments urgently required
by Jonathan (Curate) on Feb 07, 2002 at 14:27 UTC
    Thanks to everyone for their input. I'd forgotten the Perl success stories page and I'll have to mention Morgan Stanley. I also was unaware of the possibility of having the company logo and a link on the donations page. Of course I'll have to focus mainly on the Banks use of Perl but mentioning other companies may help our cause.

    Thanks again.

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