Friday, April 17, 2009

Is Perl dead?

As a young programmer working in the Systems Office at a large academic library in 1996, I discovered the wondrous utility of Perl for text processing and web programming. I hacked together a primitive service request program for users to report problems with desktops and dumb terminals from the old Geac GLIS 9000 System.

Lately it seems that Perl has fallen out of favor. Whether it's merely a generational thing or due to fundamental technical merits is a debatable question. The very question of whether Perl is in fact dead spurs lively discussion online. To wit, see the tersely worded site at To see more, just google "is perl dead" to see some fun results.

There have been a number of languages to emerge in the last 10 years that one could use instead of Perl to get the job done. Ruby, PHP, and Python are the first to come to mind, but there are many others.

We still have a significant Perl codebase where I currently work, although we are moving more and more code over to Java. I'm just wondering what everyone else's experience is out there. I'd love to hear from you about this!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Local search

I just stumbled on EveryBlock last week when a friend emailed me a link to inform me that the Chinese food truck on the street where we work was closed down by the Licenses and Inspection Department. Coincidentally, I was browsing the New York Times website this week and was surprised to find a story there on EveryBlock.

EveryBlock aggregrates data from a number of sources, including government information such as health inspection data. It's a neat site--you can find out about home sales and police reports in your neighborhood as well as seeing if anyone has geotagged a photo from your block in flickr of late.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New article in code4lib

Issue 6 of code4lib is now live, and contains an article by none other than this blogger. code4lib's mission is to "foster community and share information among those interested in the intersection of libraries, technology, and the future." The article I wrote fits nicely in with this mission statemtent; it's about using tree structures from GUI libraries to represent hierarchical data. Check it out at: