Related link: http://www.perl.com/pub/a/2004/01/09/survey.html
Adam Turoff lays out his perspective on the State of Perl. I agree with what he says, but I do not like that he has to say it. With anything less than total market dominance, people apparently think that a language is dead (just not Perl), and somebody needs to declare a winner.
Adam divides his space between the Skunk Works of Perl, the Perl 6 and Parrot projects, and “wild” Perl activity, which some people assert is fading into irrelevance as other languages (Java, .Net, C#, Python, Ruby) “eat Perl’s lunch”. As a glue language, Perl can work with almost anything else, letting niche languages step in to do some heavy lifting when necessary. Other languages do not have to lose to make Perl useful—other languages need to thrive. Indeed, Perl is good because it takes the best parts of other languages and combines them into one. Without other languages, there would be no Perl, which started as a way to tie things together, not drive them apart. Diversity increases utility and productivity, and drives evolution. New languages represent new ways of thinking, and we should not be afraid of them.
Perl 5 is what it is, and is just as useful as it always has been, just like Java, Python, COBOL, FORTRAN, and PL/1 are just as useful as they always were. The problems may get trickier, but that does not mean that those languages lose any functionality or stop working. Indeed, those languages are all still in use somewhere. They keep doing the tasks that they have always been able to do. Shortly after the announcement of the Perl 6 effort, Mark-Jason Dominus and I gave an interview to Dale Dougherty, and I said that Perl survives because it can go almost anywhere and adapt to almost anything.
Any language’s right to survive only depends on its ultimate utility. If Perl meets the needs of its users, we do not have to worry about its vitality, and we will not need to discuss how to market, sell, or promote it. Instead of worrying about new versions, we just have to make Perl useful, and most of that work is already done.