Anti-Perl Social Engineering


Dave Cross has a piece on why corporations hate Perl. He's being a little hyperbolic (as he admits)--not everyone hates Perl, but he's right in noting that there is a backlash against it. He says:

I was talking to people from one such company last night. The Powers That Be at this company have announced that Perl is no longer their language of choice for web systems and that over time (probably a lot of time) systems will be rewritten in a combination of Java and PHP. Management have started to refer to Perl-based systems as "legacy" and to generally disparage it. This attitude has seeped through to non-technical business users who have started to worry if developers mention a system that is written in Perl. Business users, of course, don't want nasty old, broken Perl code. They want the shiny new technologies.

And so, in a matter of months, the technical managers at this company have create a business environment where Perl is seen as the cause of most of the problems with the current systems. It's an impressive piece of social engineering

From Why Corporates Hate Perl - O'Reilly ONLamp Blog
Referenced Wed Aug 20 2008 10:43:00 GMT-0600 (MDT)

He labels this kind of things "anti-Perl social engineering." I've run into similar feelings.

At Kynetx, our systems are built in Perl and Ruby. We use Rails to create the user facing pieces, but the engine, that part that needs to run fast, is written as an Apache module in Perl.

I've noticed that when I explain the language choice to people I almost always have to answer the spoken or unspoken question: "Perl?? Really? Why Perl?" After I explain the architecture and the reasons behind the decision, they're almost always satisfied, but there's a definite stigma.

I'm doing a talk next week at the Utah Open Source Conference (Friday morning at 10am) on using Apache as an application server. There are some significant advantages and Apache offers some real great application support that is largely untapped. But to talk advantage of it, you're pretty much stuck with C...or Perl. Given that choice the decision is a no-brainer. I'll be putting my thoughts together for the talk later this week or next week and promise to blog the ideas.

Still, the idea that Perl is an old crusty language couldn't be more wrong. I've been programming in Perl for nigh on 15 years now and I don't think it's ever been more interesting. Perl sports the best collection of libraries of any dynamic language and supports modern engineering practices like modules, objects, and testing. I've seen ugly Perl code--heck I've written it--but that's not Perl's fault.

I spoke with a local company last week that has been a Perl shop but is moving to Java. I smiled because I know that means there will be a lot of unhappy Perl programmers there who I can hire later! :-)

I'll continue to proudly carry the torch for Perl.