Making Modern Perl more visible

(I’m Working on taxes this week, so I only have time for a short post.)

The other night I happened to be in a room with a PHP dev, a Ruby dev, and a Java dev. (I was the Perl dev. Huh.)

This specific mix was no accident and we were discussing how developers think about starting new projects and companies. (The phrase “serial entrepreneur” kept being used. Is sounded vaguely naughty.) All of us had experience with other languages, and didn’t seem “married” to our current tool-of-choice, but the others were all surprised that Perl was still being used at all, much less for “real” projects. I got to do my bit to remind them that Perl was still around and could be considered a viable alternative to PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, etc.

Hopefully, one (or more) of them will come visit the Ironman page and see what kinds of things folks are working on. Now that this project seems to be collecting Perl folks in a “visible” place, how can I help folks to “see” it? I mean, if I’m writing here, I’m not writing in other venues which I can link into the project. Maybe I just need to write more, and in more places.

Another drag on positive Perl mind share is all of the old, outdated, and no-longer-operative posts, sites, “tips,” etc. that are floating around on the web. Perl has changed so much over the years it is sometimes hard to winnow out outdated material from a search. For example, the Catalyst tutorials I first found all talked about a specific form-builder as the bee’s knees. Well, it turns out “everyone” now considers it “obsolete” and something completely different is all the current rage. Not helpful. We can’t very well run around demanding old material be removed, and the archivist in me isn’t convinced it would be a good idea anyway, but how can folks be steered to current, useful, updated material?

Is there anything that can be done to elevate current, modern, doubleplusgood writing about Perl so it’s easier to find? Is it time to change the name of language, even if the internals stay the same, just to make it easier to think/talk/write about the current state of affairs and leave behind all the no-longer-good advice? Sadly, that kind of development requires serious marketing experience, and that seems a rare commodity in the open source “space.”

Ah, well. Back to work…

More as it happens.

Bob Simpson


  1. Frank Gutierrez

    I’m also a Perl dev. I’m love Perl but hate some of its issues. A common Perl saying, ‘There’s more than one way to do it’ seems to be have cursed the language in a way. So there were a million ways to do OOP and that ended up with egg on the Perl face. Now that has been taken care of by Moose. But the underlying problem seems to still be there. There are many ways to get things done in Perl, but how does one know the best or ideal way? There is no mechanism to provide this information to a new or old developer.

    I think the Perl community is realizing that they need to change some things around. This is healthy regardless of the language. I don’t think it’s too late for Perl, it has such a following.

    • Bob

      Yeah, Perl has “issues.” Isn’t that one of it’s strengths, though? [Fight!] πŸ™‚

      I think it’s a good thing there’s more than one way to accomplish things. I would hope it would let folks figure out which was was “best” for some specific purpose. Sadly, there is a lot of “cargo cult,” cut-and-paste, this-is-the-way-of-our-forefathers, rote-learning code out there–in Perl and every other language.

      One of the things I liked about the Perl Cookbook was the emphasis on why something worked the way it did. Yes, it let me get this thing done right now but it also gave me the reasoning behind the sample so I could get a better grasp on when (and when not) to do something.

      I think a lot of Perl coding advice should come with a freshness date. I’m starting to think my (only half-kidding) suggestion about changing the name of the language is a better and better idea. It would certainly help folks find avoid “help” that was only relevant for ten- to fifteen-year-old Perl versions.

    • Paulo

      I’d have to agree to this: I think the Perl community is realizing that they need to change some things around. This is healthy regardless of the language. I don’t think it’s too late for Perl, it has such a following.

      It’s never too late. Especially with the rapid changes in technology, systems, processes and the like…they need to continuously improve on things to stay in the business. Just my two cents worth.

      My Blog: Drenagem Linfatica

  2. lupin

    One thing to help promote use of Perl, is to put forward working examples on things that matter/catchy to new web dev people. Say for example the jqgrid/extjs..etc almost all example/working codes you can see are Php/Ruby/Python, where’s Perl?

    It is hard for newbie to find example codes, let alone docs that are working on this trendy/hype tools with Perl as server side language.

    • Bob

      Interesting thought. I’m not familiar with those items, but I tend to write pretty plain pages. I’m trying to avoid changing everything from a “web page” into a “JavaScript application.” I’m in the “new != better” camp, but I take your point that making sure Perl is present in the examples of the flashy/catchy/new stuff would be a help.

      Looks like jqGrid has a wiki, and they mention Perl, but I’m not sure where the sample code might go, off the top of my head. Where do you think the best place to put a sample might be?

      I jumped over to the Ext JS site, and while the start-up guide only has a PHP example, the basic login example in the Tutorials section has a number of language-specific examples, including one for Perl. I’ve not seriously looked at it and can’t vouch for its swellness, but it’s there.

      Other than the Ext JS and the jQuery Grid Plugin items, what comes to mind as flashy/catchy/new, that doesn’t have a Perl reference?

      This sounds like a job for the Perl Ironman SWAT team. πŸ™‚ If 1/10 of the folks there dropped by and added just one example to their respective wikis, I bet it would blow their minds. πŸ™‚


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *