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Why is Perl losing ground?

 
 
Dominic
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      02-09-2004
As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
losing ground to another bunch of languages, namely: Python, PHP and
Ruby. I'd like to hear your opinions. Is Perl just not "trendy" anymore?
Does it still scare programmers who haven't used it? Or do the other
languages have any major advantages over Perl? I haven't worked in these
other languages, so I'm not qualified to have much of an opinion here.
What do you think?

- Dom
 
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Kirk Strauser
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      02-09-2004
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At 2004-02-09T15:54:40Z, Dominic <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
> losing ground to another bunch of languages [...]


Is it? It may not be getting the same buzz, but I haven't seen it
declining.

> namely: Python


I have to admit that I really, really like Python, and I've started using it
in places where I would've previously used Perl. It's a very personal
decision, though; Python is usually a closer match to the way *I* model
systems than Perl, but that's clearly not true for everyone.

> PHP


Oh, Lord. I can't stand PHP. It seems like someone wanted "Perl Lite" for
web scripting, and when it caught on and people started demanding more
functionality, they just started randomly adding portions of almost-Perl
until it compiled without too many warnings. I can't think of one single
reason why anyone would use PHP over Perl, other than "my free web host made
it available", which is just a made decision made cyclic.
- --
Kirk Strauser
The Strauser Group
Open. Solutions. Simple.
http://www.strausergroup.com/
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Ben Morrow
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      02-09-2004

Kirk Strauser <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> > As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
> > losing ground to another bunch of languages [...]

>
> Is it? It may not be getting the same buzz, but I haven't seen it
> declining.


Well, given that Once Upon A Time Perl was the only thing between
shell and C, it's not surprising that it's giving a bit. I don't think
the Perl community has suffered in any material way from Python et
al., though: rather the opposite.

> > > PHP

>
> Oh, Lord. I can't stand PHP. It seems like someone wanted "Perl Lite" for
> web scripting, and when it caught on and people started demanding more
> functionality, they just started randomly adding portions of almost-Perl
> until it compiled without too many warnings. I can't think of one single
> reason why anyone would use PHP over Perl, other than "my free web host made
> it available", which is just a made decision made cyclic.


PHP is great for what it was designed for: a simple way to put a small
amount of scripting into a basically static HTML page. It's been
stretched *waay* beyond that now, though, and needs the same sort of
major rewrite/rethink that happened perl4->perl5. (FWIW I have heard
from friends who actually use the language that the PHP folks are
doing something along these lines now).

Ben

--
perl -e'print map {/.(.)/s} sort unpack "a2"x26, pack "N"x13,
qw/1632265075 1651865445 1685354798 1696626283 1752131169 1769237618
1801808488 1830841936 1886550130 1914728293 1936225377 1969451372
2047502190/' # http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
 
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Kirk Strauser
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      02-09-2004
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At 2004-02-09T17:07:32Z, Ben Morrow <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> PHP is great for what it was designed for: a simple way to put a small
> amount of scripting into a basically static HTML page.


Having used both, though, I honestly don't see what's easier or simpler
about PHP's syntax. It comes with syntax for embedding logic inside
presentation, granted, but any number of Perl modules do the same thing.

What I *have* noticed is that it tends to have many partially overlapping
functions that seem to differ mainly by whether you want to print the output
automatically, return it for further processing, or both - and distinguished
- From each other largely by putting the arguments in a random order. It's
very typical to see:

foo_do(bar, baz, qux)
foo_execute(baz, qux)
foo_exec(qux, bar, baz)
foo_dothis(bar)

Yet, somehow, people seem to think PHP is easier. I just don't understand.
- --
Kirk Strauser
The Strauser Group
Open. Solutions. Simple.
http://www.strausergroup.com/
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Peter Hickman
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      02-09-2004
Dominic wrote:
> As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
> losing ground to another bunch of languages,


Is it? Where did you get this idea from?

> Is Perl just not "trendy" anymore?


Thats correct, it is no longer trendy and hasn't been for years. Thats a
good thing by the way, Perl is now a standard tool in the programmer's
toolbox and not a passing fad. CASE anyone?

> Does it still scare programmers who haven't used it?


Again where did you get this idea, some facts would be nice.

An important point that you are missing is that a lot of programmers who
code in Perl are just that programmers who happen to code in Perl. They
also code in a variety of languages (I use Ruby, Python and Tcl/Tk - I
must get round to using Eiffel). A programming language is not a
religion, except for the stupid, and a good programmer will learn and
use other languages just for the hell of it.

Thus the ranks of the Python and Ruby programmers are being swelled by
Perl programmers. Very few programmers who use Perl are abstaining from
Perl altogether. Sure there are some /religious/ types that use Java and
swear off Perl as the spawn of satan but these people are nutters just
like the people who swear that Perl is the one and only language.

Imagine a carpenter who only used a mallet - not much of a carpenter?
Why then should a programmer use only one language?
 
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Walter Roberson
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      02-09-2004
In article <23OVb.1$(E-Mail Removed)>,
Dominic <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
:As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
:losing ground to another bunch of languages

oes it still scare programmers who haven't used it?

It still scares programmers who *have* used it
--
Everyone has a "Good Cause" for which they are prepared to spam.
-- Roberson's Law of the Internet
 
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Andy Baxter
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      02-09-2004
Kirk Strauser said:


>> PHP

>
> Oh, Lord. I can't stand PHP. It seems like someone wanted "Perl Lite" for
> web scripting, and when it caught on and people started demanding more
> functionality, they just started randomly adding portions of almost-Perl
> until it compiled without too many warnings. I can't think of one single
> reason why anyone would use PHP over Perl, other than "my free web host made
> it available", which is just a made decision made cyclic.


I had a quick look at some PHP code a month or so ago, and some things
about it seemed quite nice, like the way cgi variables are automatically
turned into local variables in the script. Apart from that, I don't know,
as I've not tried coding in it. I'm not sure that mixing code and content
is the best way anyhow - the HTML::Template approach where the two are
kept seperate is more to my taste. And having started writing my web app
like this, it means someone with few coding skills could easily translate
the whole site into another language, or change the layour or whatever,
which is a bonus to this way of doing it.

--
http://www.niftybits.ukfsn.org/

remove 'n-u-l-l' to email me. html mail or attachments will go in the spam
bin unless notified with [html] or [attachment] in the subject line.

 
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Malcolm Dew-Jones
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      02-09-2004
Kirk Strauser ((E-Mail Removed)) wrote:
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: At 2004-02-09T17:07:32Z, Ben Morrow <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

: > PHP is great for what it was designed for: a simple way to put a small
: > amount of scripting into a basically static HTML page.

: Having used both, though, I honestly don't see what's easier or simpler
: about PHP's syntax. It comes with syntax for embedding logic inside
: presentation, granted, but any number of Perl modules do the same thing.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

That's at least half the problem. Unlike Java (JSP) or ASP (and what ever
language it uses) or PHP, perl has no _standard_ way to create web pages
in this sort of manner.

Making decisions is a large part of any project.

Working with PHP includes fewer decisions, therefore many people will find
it easier to use.

You see this in other situations. What is easier? Digging a ditch or
planning the drainage in the first place. Digging the ditch is more grunt
work (i.e. PHP) but it's obvious what to do and therefore it's easy for
anyone to do the work. On the other hand, planning the drainage requires
much less labour (i.e. Perl), but ultimately it's a harder job for many
people because it involves making non-obvious decisions.

 
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Kirk Strauser
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      02-09-2004
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At 2004-02-09T19:22:28Z, Andy Baxter <(E-Mail Removed)-online.co.uk> writes:

> I had a quick look at some PHP code a month or so ago, and some things
> about it seemed quite nice, like the way cgi variables are automatically
> turned into local variables in the script.


Note that this was considered a horrible security bug to the point that it's
no longer the default action.

For example, imagine this code snippet in a little-used auxiliary directory
in a widely-used bulletin board system:

$sql = 'select * from foo'
$result = mysql_query($sgl)

In other words, the author made a typo when he wrote "$sgl" on the second
line. A malicious party realizes the mistake and visits the page with the
query string "?sgl=select * from usertable". His new "$sgl" variable is
injected into the global namespace of the running script and the
mysql_query() function executes his code instead of the intended line.

Convenient, sure, but one of the more bone-headed language misfeatures I've
seen.
- --
Kirk Strauser
The Strauser Group
Open. Solutions. Simple.
http://www.strausergroup.com/
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David K. Wall
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      02-09-2004
Kirk Strauser <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> At 2004-02-09T19:22:28Z, Andy Baxter
> <(E-Mail Removed)-online.co.uk> writes:
>
>> I had a quick look at some PHP code a month or so ago, and some things
>> about it seemed quite nice, like the way cgi variables are
>> automatically turned into local variables in the script.

>
> Note that this was considered a horrible security bug to the point that
> it's no longer the default action.

[snip]

> Convenient, sure, but one of the more bone-headed language misfeatures
> I've seen.


The SAS system (sas.com) does something similar. Someone in my first
training class for SAS web programming used a macro variable that was the
same as one of the form parameters. Instant bug and unexpected results.
Even the instructor was puzzled, at least for a few hours.

If you're offered a job using SAS to do web stuff for anything more
complicated than a few predefined queries, run away screaming.

(Side note: I took another SAS "web" class where the instructor
consistently referred to CSS as "cascading spread sheets". By the end of
the class I wanted to strangle her. (that wasn't the /only/ reason))

--
David Wall
 
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