Friday, May 2, 2008

Perl how you offend me (sometimes)

I've been fishing around with Perl over the last month. Got a big legacy PIM application to deal with. Oh my! This app is running on Apache and mod_perl. These are some old school technologies. I'm sure there are lots of burnt out mod_perl programmers out there who are much more qualified to work on this shit. I bet they don't bother to put this stuff on their resume, not as long as they have money in the bank, and/or a roof over their head. Scratch that maybe even without those... having gotten acquainted to this stuff homelessness may be preferable. Sad sad. I don't dislike Perl. It has it's charms and especially evokes finer feelings of classic-ness. It's the language that helped build the net into what it is... a giant commercial cesspool slash platform for extremists of the opinionated sort and trans-generational masturbatory aid. Wow what a legacy.

So there it is. Why should I respect something merely because it's author has a rad mustache and sweet Hawaiian shirt collection? Perl in my very humble opinion is too prickly for the newer generation (which I kinda am in). It has nice features: hashes real nice.. lists real nice... CPAN amazing... come on though, for each thing it does right it does numerous things wrong or in poor taste. Arguments to functions blah, references why are you so lousy looking and overly complicated? And strict, dumbest vestigial lousy feature ever. Classes are disgustingly complicated to pick up... bless?!? Lots of sharp edges. Dispite all this Perl has lit the way for many. I've met people that are now programmers because they found Perl. Lets face it though, languages have severely changed since Perl's founding. Most people who program Perl have changed too.

I recently read Perl is not dead, sure I agree, it is just legacy. Cobol and Fortran are not REALLY dead either. But you couldn't lure me into doing either, not with a six pack of Micky's and a Snickers bar. There are few things golden left for those of great Perl skills to be looked forward to. All the cool kids have moved onto Python and Ruby, even Java I may argue. These people of skill would have little difficulty picking up another language. The true hacker/scholar/intellectual will thrive on a new language, enjoying the diversity of human creation. They also should have little holding them back from trying something new. I wager those who make the effort will quickly make the transition to the new language and never look back. This may include a change of job.

To wrap it up Perl is like the obnoxious slob at a party to which you want to avoid. Difficult to deal, disheveled and unkempt, but also sometimes fun. If you are learning to program, or have done a bit of programming learn Python (or maybe Ruby). Stay away from Perl. Also don't go near PHP, please!