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Perl vs PHP and the Future

by webchalkboard (Scribe)
on Jun 20, 2007 at 17:30 UTC ( #622330=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hi Monks,
I hope you don't mind me posting a non-technical enquiry in here but i'm interested to know your thoughts.

I used to be really into Perl and a major advocate, but I have to admit, that since taking a job almost 3 years ago now, my Perl use has slipped drastically, infact I don't think I've coded anything in Perl for almost 2 years, which is shocking because I love the language and all it's shortcut quirks.

The trouble is I'm a PHP person now really, I think it's a fantastic language with so much flexibility and support. The developer community is huge and with most applications these days being written in PHP, it makes plugging in other applications very easy.

I guess my query is, what's happened in the 2/3 years I've been away? Have there been advancements with the language? Will it ever take over PHP or has that particular battle been lost? I notice this website is exactly the same as it was 2 years ago too, hehe so I guess the web2.0 thing hasn't quite hit these dusty corridors (it's quite refreshing in some ways).

Anyway just thought I'd ask, sorry if this is a repeated question.

Cheers,
Tom

Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. - Confucius
My site

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by perrin (Chancellor) on Jun 20, 2007 at 18:28 UTC

    Glad to hear you're enjoying your job. Your post is pretty obnoxious though. Are you really not aware of what a troll this comes across as?

    "...most applications these days being written in PHP"? What planet are you on? Most applications these days are written in Java, if job postings and language popularity are any indication at all.

    "...this website is exactly the same as it was 2 years ago"? There have been tons of changes, but I guess you don't count anything that isn't a design change.

    If you seriously want to know what's been going on with Perl for the last 3 years, read perldelta for 5.8.8 (and the rest back to 5.8.3 that came out three years ago). You would also want to read up on some major CPAN stuff like object-relation mappers (Rose::DB::Object and DBIx::Class) and current hot topics like Moose.

      read perldelta for 5.8.8

      Not to mention the changes in Perl 5.9.x which will soon be Perl 5.10

      ---
      $world=~s/war/peace/g

      Oh dear that's not good then. I don't really know what a troll is, but it doesn't sound very complimentary. I do think though that it's fair to say that PHP has a large share of the web as far as a web technology goes. For the average website owner it's a pretty reasonable language to get the job done with. In much the same way as Perl infact. I would put Java in another league really. More suitable for heavy application development for sure, but not the faster prototyping style of web application development. Facebook is built with PHP mind you and that's a meaty project. And we've just finished a project which makes use of PHP5's object orientation capabilities... But that's enough PHP talk, this is a Perl forum after all. Sorry i'm sure there have been lots of changes behind the scenes, it's just on first impressions it looks just the same. Sorry didn't mean to upset anyone. I'm going to google Moose now.
      Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. - Confucius
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by Joost (Canon) on Jun 20, 2007 at 19:23 UTC
    Good things that happened in the last 3 years? Well, unicode support is basically stable and done as far as the perl core is concerned.

    The fact that you can do more-or-less transparent unicode alone is reason enough for me to prefer perl over the other Ps in the LAMP stack for web development. Even Ruby/Rails, which I like a lot get many -- points for not even trying to do the right thing.

    People in the USA might disagree, but then, they're not dealing with something like 12+ different natural languages within a 90 minutes flight.

      I have 4 languages within a 5 minute walk of my house, though I'm not writing code for any of them.
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by talexb (Canon) on Jun 20, 2007 at 20:20 UTC
      ... and with most applications these days being written in PHP ..

    Citation required.

      Will (Perl) ever take over PHP or has that particular battle been lost?

    Citation required to back up premise that Perl has 'lost' a particular battle, and that Perl and PHP are even competing in the same areas of endeavour.

      I notice this website is exactly the same as it was 2 years ago too, hehe so I guess the web2.0 thing hasn't quite hit these dusty corridors (it's quite refreshing in some ways).

    It looks the same, but new content is arriving daily -- this user community is also thriving. There have been a few improvements in the last 2-3 years, but Perlmonks has not been dressed up in Web2.0 finery -- but that's OK, because it's never been about the eye candy, but about the community and the content.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

      About a 1/4 million nodes have been added, 2300 patches to the PM code have been submitted and about 22,000 users have joined PerlMonks in the last three years.

      Other statistics can be viewed at http://tinymicros.com/pm/?goto=MainPage.


      DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
        Thank you, GrandFather, for bringing up these fantastic numbers, I've been wondering myself but didn't have a clue how to find it out. I'm really glad to see it.

        I (kind of) left Perl too (due to unfortunate situation), once, for about three years. And in that period, I did PHP (the programmers I led couldn't be upgraded higher) for one or two projects, but I still used Perl for automating some tasks. I was involved in a Java project, but fortunately, wasn't forced to code in it. My roles in this project were system designer and QA.

        When I managed to get myself back, I was suprised to see a lot of things had happened, in the Internet and the Perland. It's all exciting. But as far as I can see, nothing really new that Perl can't handle. Most of bad things people talk about Perl are not far from myths to spread FUD, just like this one. Are you going to contribute to the mud? Some Perler did the best to clean up the mess other person threw. So the only thing Perl is lost is that the number of people that say offensive things about other languages.

        Update: (21-06-2007) Fixed link to the myths. Thanks, blazar :-)


        Open source softwares? Share and enjoy. Make profit from them if you can. Yet, share and enjoy!

        A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
      ... and with most applications these days being written in PHP ..
      Citation required.
      Or even "provide proof or retract".
      A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by blazar (Canon) on Jun 20, 2007 at 22:05 UTC
    I hope you don't mind me posting a non-technical enquiry in here but i'm interested to know your thoughts.

    Not at all, you welcome!

    The trouble is I'm a PHP person now really, I think it's a fantastic language with so much flexibility and support. The developer community is huge and with most applications these days being written in PHP, it makes plugging in other applications very easy.

    Oh, c'mon! I'm glad you like it, but your claims sound trollish as all the similar ones we hear so often. You may have tried a Super Search like ?node_id=3989;HIT=PHP;re=N;M. One little gem in which you may be interested and that I'm directly offering to you is Perl needs Zend.

    I guess my query is, what's happened in the 2/3 years I've been away? Have there been advancements with the language?

    Yes! (Just to mention the most recent ones!)

    Will it ever take over PHP or has that particular battle been lost?

    How could ever the battle be lost? I have friends routinely using Mathematica for their daily work since it is... err... well... better suited for their typical application area? Has the battle with Mathematica been lost?!?

    I notice this website is exactly the same as it was 2 years ago too, hehe so I guess the web2.0 thing hasn't quite hit these dusty corridors (it's quite refreshing in some ways).

    How could a website about Perl and in particular its UI, which incidentally has changed considerably over the years, have to do with the success of Perl itself as a language especially in comparison with PHP? In particular what does "Web 2.0" -a loosely defined term in and of itself- have to do with the questions you're asking, given that it's not all gold that which is "Web 2.0": possibly ranging AIUI from nifty clean websites like Google services and wikis to brainkilling horrors like MySpace... FWIW, an oft repeated mantra of my own is that I'm often on, and like, clpmisc, which being USENET technology even predates the web, yet it remains one of the "places" where I can find the most precious technical info and in depth discussions about Perl.

Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Jun 22, 2007 at 09:07 UTC

    Think of the history of PHP versus the history of Perl. Perl started as a general purpose scripting tool, which just happened to have characteristics that made it extremely useful in the CGI era of web sites. PHP as far as I know was some kind of Perl wrapper or extension or something that specifically targetted the web domain. So as time went by it got better and better at that niche task (I guess its better anyway). Wheras Perl stuck to the middle ground. And Perls utility in that middle ground has not been eroded. Large systems still are written in Perl, vast amounts of money are still being made on the back of Perl. Just because you dont see it in the web market doesnt mean its not happening.

    You also have to realize that PHP has made certain policy decisions that Perl has not. For instance in the PHP world backwards compatibility is not all that important. From what i know every release of PHP results in serious breakage of older code. On the other hand the Perl development team sweats blood trying to avoid breakage. So where PHP can make changes that will break all their old code in the name of progress perl has to be much more careful. We want smooth incremental improvements with minimal breakage, we dont want big leaps that lead to language fragmentation. Scripts written for Perl 5.6 should work more or less the same in Perl 5.10. From what Ive read the same cannot be said of PHP.

    This also applies to the site here. It hasnt changed much in the past years. We tinker here and there, make gradual improvements etc, but we are not willing to throw away what we have just to convert to some newfangled web-technology that for all we know will be obsolete in a year or two. What we have works, perhaps not always as well as we would like, but sufficiently well that Perlmonks is still one of the higher quality programming sites on the net.

    As someone mentioned, we have half a million posts here, and making major changes to the site would potentially compromise the utility of that store. And thats something we just arent willing to do. We wont sacrifice the past for an uncertain future, instead we will plod along, and still be here when all the PHP sites around now are done and dusted because some new version of PHP has forced them all to be rewritten.

    ---
    $world=~s/war/peace/g

      Yeah I totally agree with you. I have always considered this as almost a programming mecca. I think it's definately the best programming community i've come across on the web (and i'm not just saying that). I know in the past when I've posted a question here, monks have been incredibly helpful (and lightening fast at replying) and i'm very grateful for that. I just honestly wish I needed to code more Perl so I could contribute more, but you kind of go where your projects take you...

      It's also try that web fads come and go, but real community is the most important thing.

      Thanks,
      Tom

      Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. - Confucius
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by samizdat (Vicar) on Jun 21, 2007 at 13:54 UTC
    Hi, Tom,

    Please excuse the guys who get sick of such questions. It does get old after a while. You've got to admit, asking a question like that on a Perl site is lighting a match in the powder room.

    Dig deep into the references cited in Plat-forms Perl SNS platform comparison, posted just after yours. Very insightful, and should have been an app that PHP would have excelled at. Perhaps the PHP team members were less skilled, but that might also say something about PHP as well.

    I, too, have had my flings with PHP and Ruby, and also a very bad experience with Java. My day job requires intense embedded C. For what it's good at, PHP is pretty good.

    Still and again, though, I use Perl one way or another at least weekly. I haven't written any PHP in a year, and I only play with Rails when I get bored. Perl helps me manage my files ('perl -e' rocks!!!) and I use Perl a lot to do things like turning Microscat Excel files into C array declarations and ENUM lists, none of which you can easily do with PHP.

    While we're playing with matches, what can you do with PHP _outside_ _of_ dynamic web pages?

    Don Wilde
    "There's more than one level to any answer."

      Yeah I hadn't realised quite the reaction I would get... (Oops think before posting next time!) hehe ah well. I think it's raised some interesting opinions though. I agree that PHP is a very mass produced kind of language, and Perl has more down and dirty flexibility perhaps. Infact if I ever have any server side processing jobs etc to do i'd always go with Perl (for the record).

      Thanks for all the links though, interesting stuff, I have a bit of catching up to do, and sorry again for the explosive / irritating nature of my question!

      Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. - Confucius
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by zentara (Archbishop) on Jun 21, 2007 at 12:10 UTC
    I have to admit your job link looks fancy. :-) But even that is a flash movie, not PhP.

    I think the problem with relying on premade PhP solutions for everything, is you get hooked on it's ease of use; then when you need to do something unique, you don't have the skills anymore. Also, what if you need to do a real socket connection, with your own gui, with no web server..... can PhP do it?

    Perl is a more generalized tool. And yes, from a business sense it pays to use mass-production code, but it becomes analagous to eating at McDonalds rather than a "made from scratch" restaurant...... like a mom-and-pop diner or a 4-star establishment.

    I already lament seeing the same cute looking pages on everyone's site..... just like I'm tired of eating at McDonalds.


    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. Cogito ergo sum a bum
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by xorl (Deacon) on Jul 13, 2007 at 14:23 UTC
    Why do people keep looking at it as an "Either/or" proposition?

    I've had jobs where I used Perl, PHP, and ASP as the primary web language. However I've always found that knowing Perl and PHP complimented each other very well. Yes if you're going to write a web application that uses a database then PHP will the the primary if not the only language you need. However for most other scripting tasks and many other things that require programming, there is already a Perl module out there that does just what you need.

    My current job about 80% of it is PHP and 15% is Perl (the other 5% is some combination of ASP, Java, and a few other languages). I wouldn't dare think to write that 15% of Perl stuff in PHP. It's either not a web application or I'd end up with 100's of extra lines of code and something that probably didn't work right. And just as I wouldn't think of doing the Perl stuff in PHP, I generally wouldn't do the PHP stuff in Perl (admittedly PHP is my default language and there are a number of things I could probably do just as well in Perl as PHP).

    Bottom line is that no language will be the perfect tool for every situation (although Perl probably comes the closest). Therefore you're asking the wrong question when you ask things like "has the battle been lost?" The better question is "What tool do I need to do this task in a quick and efficient way?"

Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by cdarke (Prior) on Jun 28, 2007 at 20:01 UTC
    I find http://www.tiobe.com/tpci.htm interesting to compare languages. You should look at this over a period of time, since the positions in the top 10 are alway changing - particularly PHP/Perl/VB often swap.
    You may like to look at the increase in numbers on CPAN and compare it to an equivalent in PHP (or any other language).
Re: Perl vs PHP and the Future
by Gavin (Bishop) on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:30 UTC
    My personal experience with both PHP and Perl is somewhat limited in comparison with others who have already commented here. However I have found the Monastery community far more knowledgeable and ready to help than any of the PHP community’s I have had dealings with.

    What PHP needs is a PHPMonks!
    Or perhaps to be quite controversial perhaps PerlMonks is big enough to accommodate a section where other languages or technical issues could be discussed.
    To my mind the resources available here namely the wealth of knowledge gained through years of experience (apparent from the CB) in all areas of IT that are within the Monastery walls are being under utilised. I for one would welcome the opportunity to be able to repay the help that I have been given here in areas that I am more competent in.
    A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.

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