I’m glad to see that TPF’s public relations group has spread the Perl 5.10 press release far and wide, and it’s getting some coverage. However, some of that coverage reminds me why I don’t watch television news and why I treat the newspaper as entertainment and not information. Consider eWeek’s First Release of Perl in Five Years Arrives:
Perl is a dynamic scripting language widely used in everything from Linux system utilities to Web servers to full-blown graphical enterprise applications.
What’s a “dynamic scripting language”? Is there such thing as a non-dynamic scripting language? (No one seems to know what a scripting language is anyway.) Minor nit.
During its 20-year history, it gained massive popularity by assimilating the syntax from many predecessors, making it really easy to use for anyone already versed in sed, awk, grep, csh, C/C++, Lisp, and so on.
Syntax, maybe (but Lisp? Really?). Features, sure. Easy to use? That’s debatable. Easy to start to learn, yes. I don’t know that anyone will suggest that Perl is easy to master, though I’m happy to argue that its learning curve is gentle if long.
… languages like python with rigid syntax structure have arguably gained ground in recent times over perl, for applications that are developed collaboratively.
“Arguably” is a weasel word, so you can throw out this whole sentence. I’m not aware of any statistics that show that Python is more popular than Perl. (Arguably, the Maginot Line gained a lot of ground in the southward direction. There. Now Python fans and the French can berate me in the comments.)
Additionally, scripting languages specially-made for use on the Web, like PHP and Ruby, have eroded some of perl’s once formidable share of the dynamic Web server scripting scene.
There’s that “dynamic scripting” mess again. What does that mean? What’s static Web server scripting anyway, and why would you need a programming language for that?
My favorite part however isn’t about Perl at all. Did you catch that? Apparently Matz was really busy in 1993 writing Ruby not as a general purpose language but specifically to use on the nascent Web. How prescient.
If a journalist can rephrase a press release and make this many errors in five paragraphs in a subject I know something about, how many errors are there in subjects I don’t know as well?
Oh, and the title comes from the last television news promo I ever watched, during the X-Files finale. The local Fox affiliate played a blurb for the evening news where the newsbimbo said, and I am not making this up, “Now that the X-Files is ending, let’s see what the series taught us about real aliens. Stay tuned at 10.”