I can seriously tell you that Perl is doing much better today than it was 10 years ago, both in terms of the quality of the language and the vitality of the community. I see no reason to expect that trend to change.
looks at the name of the forum You mean the Perl and Python forum? If the dead forum means the language is “dead… and it’s not coming back”, then why aren’t you also insisting that Python is pushing up daisies?
More to the point, though, SitePoint is a site on general topics related to running websites, not a dedicated programming forum, so it’s not exactly a great place to judge the general vitality of languages. Go take a look at StackOverflow or PerlMonks and you’ll find a much larger volume of Perl-related questions posted on either of those sites in a day than SitePoint gets in a month.
I’ve urged SitePoint to remove the Perl, Python and maybe even Ruby forums for a few years now, seeings how SitePointers seem to have almost zero interest in these languages, regardless of their actual use or popularity. Ruby would be the exception in that SitePoint the company is somewhat active(er) with Ruby stuff and might be ramping Ruby articles and books up a bit more.
Re Perl in general: those using Perl, see it thriving because it’s innovating and doing its thing. Those outside Perl don’t see any change since 1999. It’s an echo-chamber issue.
Found out at FOSDEM that Ada is actually alive, well, being updated, and has a pretty damn active (but small) community around it. I doubt anyone outside of Ada knows this. A search for jobs turns up little. Turns out the place to get Ada jobs is their irc channel. Who knew.
I’m not going to argue with the statement that Perl is dead; but to help focus my learning efforts, I’m more interested in learning which languages are alive, and how alive are they? Which languages will have strong legs over the next, say, five years?
To make this more fun and informative, let’s try to quantify it: list a few languages and rate them on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 is “deader than dead,” and 100 is “as vibrantly alive as one can imagine!”
Ok, C tops the charts at langpop.com. But does it follow that “the language most likely to be vibrantly alive five years from now is C”? That’s what I’m really getting at. I’m looking for insight into this question from all you human experts.
Perl is certainly going to be around in 5 years. The core Perl5 guys make a (testing) release every 6 months. You know it’s testing, development or minor because it’s an odd number and minor (like, 5.15.x), whereas stable releases are large even numbers (5.16). 5.16 is the current stable, though by now there’s prolly a bug-fix version 5.16.something. A stable release is supported actively for 2 years, and security fixes for 3. A lot of the innovation is porting was-experimental stuff from Perl6 to Perl5, and Perl6 has inspiration from various cool places like Haskell and OCAML, among others.
Perl also has a large, worldwide, vibrant community (and sub-communities, mostly based on geographic location, known as monge(u)r groups) and members are active on places like StackOverflow. CPAN has also been getting some remakes: there’s metaCPAN, a better search engine for finding things on CPAN (and one of the filters is activity, to more easily find what’s been abandoned vs actively maintained), and cpanminus for easy_install-like builds of modules.
Re the Object system: Larry Wall once said:
However many didn’t like the Perl-version-of-Python-objects present in early Perl 5. People outside Perl don’t seem to know it’s now got a nice clean OO layer (Moose, Mouse or Moo) if you want, where you can use roles and traits to your liking, and it’s got WSGI implementations too, PSGI (usually using Plack middleware between your app and whatever servers).
So I’d say Perl is pretty alive, but the number of developers is dropping, or maybe more accurately, new programmers haven’t heard of viable Modern Perl and so there’s not the same stream of noobs coming in like some other languages have.
I agree that its far from ‘dead’, the fact that objective-c can become a popular language while being old and user-unfriendly pretty much says that any retro-programming languages may easily make a comeback so long as people find good reasons to use it or the developers find a way for it to be used. I wouldnt even count out granddaddies like Fortran(in fact if you are a petroleum process engineer, you may need to know how to code in Fortran to use some advanced features in the software Aspen Plus lol).
Saw an interesting talk from a few years ago by an Ada guy to a bunch of they-look-waaaay-too-young MIT kids about the development of Ada. He also mentioned other languages, and one example was that the whole New York City traffic light system was in Pascal. Usually those sorts of things are written in Ada.
Ada’s pretty cool, and while I couldn’t make it to FOSDEM this year, it sounded like the Ada devroom was pretty full all day. (so was the Perl devroom, incidentally: here’s a photo from a talk on A/B testing by Ovid, tho he’s usually a popular speaker https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BfZbZPIIYAAH5vA.jpg:large )
Perl will always have a place in certain communities…but as a general scripting language, Python took over as the most popular (in usage and job opportunities) a long time ago. No offense to the Perl community, because they make great contributions every year, when it’s supposed to have been dead already, but it’s pretty easy to see why Python has eclipsed it.
The Title caught my eye for sure. I am glad I did not get into this fight when it started.
I would have to agree, Perl is not dead by any means. I use Perl in my current job. It’s easy and adaptable and I have quite a few languages under my belt BASICA, Pascal, Cobol and even Assembler. (I know I just dated myself).
Some of these could be considered dead but there are still people using them and getting benefit from them.
When I was interviewing programmers for a technical company I ALWAYS looked at the their computer languages. That tells me a lot about the programmer. Those that used Pascal & Cobol tended to be highly structured and were great at Logical design. C & Java programmers sucked at that. Assembler programmers were detail oriented and wrote tight code.
Perl people are highly flexible as well as adaptable.
I am 56 and I have seen my fair share of bad programmers. But the ones that had these unique languages were truly gifted.
DuckDuckGo does indeed run on Perl. Basically a scary not-modern-Perl non-opensource core surrounded by modern-Perl best-practices open-source Perl around it. Gabriel may eventually opensource the core stuff, some day. I get the feeling he was using Perl to play around with stuff so just kept using it.
Probably the company using Perl most obviously today is Booking.com. They are a known large black hole trying to suck up every Perl developer in existence. : P