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Re (tilly) 1: The Decline of Perl - My Opinion

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Feb 02, 2002 at 23:30 UTC ( #142987=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to The Decline of Perl - My Opinion

I have many opinions about your points.

First of all I don't know whether Perl is declining. Certainly I know that some of the Perl 6 effort has done exactly what it was intended to do, and attracted effort and interest in Perl. I know that at my job we have replaced the vast majority of our work with Perl, and the directions we are considering away from Perl are not exactly popularly publicized ones.

Secondly I am personally not overly concerned with what the popular language of the day is. As I commented ages ago at RE (tilly) 1: Java vs. Perl from the CB, the dream that is sold to PHBs of programmers as interchangable monkeys doesn't appeal to me, and is a proven recipe for IT disasters. See Choose the most powerful language for further discussion, and a link to an excellent article by Paul Graham. As long as I have freedom to be productive, I will make the best choice for me. Often that is Perl.

Third I don't see it as a huge disaster if Perl at some point falls by the wayside. Perl is not magically great to push just because it is Perl. Perl is good because it does things very well. But other languages can adopt some of Perl's good ideas and do what Perl already does. Indeed languages like Python and Ruby borrow some of Perl's good ideas, and make them conveniently available to people who want some of the power of Perl, but who didn't happen to click with Perl. I think this is a good thing in the end. Trying different approaches allows people to figure out what they like and why they like it, leading to better languages later.

Perhaps I am being narrowminded in focussing so much on what makes for good personal productivity, but I don't think so. Lacking excellent marketing, Perl can't win in the hype game. It has to win by actually being better for solving problems. Sure, you don't see Perl advertised everywhere. But smart management understands that something is up when a small team of Perl programmers in 3 months manages to match what a fair sized team of Java programmers had done in 2 years. And when the Perl programmers come back again a year later and in a similar time frame do what the Java programmers had planned to do over the next 5 years...

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