Women in Technology

Hear us Roar

  Is Perl Still Relevant?
Subject:   Some objective, empirical evidence
Date:   2005-07-14 08:33:48
From:   haywood
Results of a job posting search on www.dice.com:

(Posts in last 10 days, all locations, no restrictions):

Perl: 2700

Python: 282

Perl AND Python: 188

Ruby: 20

Seems to me Perl is pretty relevant...

Keep in mind that Mr. O'Reilly's job is to sell
books. If Python and Ruby (and probably soon Groovy)
are the hot topics de jure, thats what he's going
to sell, and it will be expressed in his stats.

For those of us who make a living actually writing
scripts, I'd suggest the DICE stats are more relevant.
Book sales are more a leading (and I'd suggest very
leading) indicator.

Perl has matured. Like C, its become so de rigeur that
employers tend to assume anyone they hire will know at
least some Perl. Its just not sexy any more.
And since it doesn't have major corporations flogging
for it in the way that e.g., Java, C#, or VB.NET do,
popular press tends to disregard it.

Conveniently, the most current issue of
Sysadmin magazine - possibly the most popular mag
among people who actually keep all those racks of
web servers and DBMS's running - includes
the results of their annual editorial survey:

"Which languages do you use most often?
Shell (92%), Perl(87%), PHP(61%), C(61%),Python(37%)"

- syslog, Sysadmin Vol. 14, Number 7

In addition, many of the featured articles
(Database access was the topic of the month)
were essentially "Here's how to solve this problem
using Perl" articles...even tho only the Wizard's
monthly Perl column actually included Perl in the title.

While I'd love to see faster progress on Perl6,
I'd suggest the rumors of Perl's death are greatly
exaggerated. If the perl community seems less inclined
to astroturf for their favorite language, its probably
because, due to the high demand expressed in those
DICE numbers, we're too busy actually doing things
with it.

Main Topics Newest First

Showing messages 1 through 2 of 2.

  • Tim O'Reilly photo Some objective, empirical evidence
    2005-07-14 09:40:24  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    Great points, Haywood. You're right that book sales and job postings may not be in step, and the fact that there's an increase in interest in other languages by book buyers is just one data point. We're actually trying to do some studies now on the relationship between job postings and book sales. This topic is very interesting to us as well, because, as you say, we make most of our money by selling books. But I want to be clear that we don't have any agenda here -- we're an equal opportunity promoter when it comes to technology.

    I'll also note that there haven't been a lot of new perl books for a while -- and we just released two wonderful ones: Advanced Perl Programming by Simon Cozens, and Perl Best Practices, by Damian Conway. I'm very much hoping that those two books move the needle significantly, and we see a nice uptick in the Perl book trend line as a result!
  • Some objective, empirical evidence
    2005-07-18 11:51:20  AdrienLamothe [View]

    Well, a huge majority of people eat fast food, which doesn't make such food particularly nutritious. My experience is that most companies don't avail themselves of the best solutions, and that there is a time lag before a good tool achieves widespread use. I believe that most people purchase programming books for their jobs or to augment their skills to acquire a job.

    I like both Perl and Python, but when faced with the choice of choosing which to use for a critical piece of an e-commerce site I had to go with Python because of the strong exception handling (breadth and syntactic ease.) Losing data was unacceptable, and too many things can go wrong over a network, which made comprehensive error-trapping necessary.

    We need more decision-makers to read sites like this, so they understand the choices available and can make better informed decisions, rather than play it safe and follow the herd.