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!

1 comment:

Kjetil Skotheim said...

A new Perl6 was "promised" (development/spec started) almost ten years ago, and many Perl programmers have been waiting. I think this long period has led many to believe that Perl is on a decline. In the meantime however Perl5 has been upgraded more than once and thousands of more modules have been made. So Perl programming activity is still huge, just watch the daily arrivals of new and updated open source perl modules

Perl6 has is being actively developed, although still "in beta" and it's not as of yet as efficient, complete, useful and easy to install as Perl5. In my opinion.