Bill Odom and the State of The Perl Foundation

by chromatic

At YAPC::NA 2006, The Perl Foundation President Bill Odom gave a short keynote about the state of The Perl Foundation and his plans to encourage the continued success and growth of the Perl language and community. I took some concise notes, and hope to do Bill's speech and views justice by expanding on them.


keith ray
2006-07-14 14:30:15
Design patterns are ways to encapsulation what varies away from what doesn't vary, in various situations. That idea is language-indendent.


2006-07-14 14:38:49
Keith, that's true. I should have explained that, as I understand it, Mark's point was that most of the example design patterns in GoF don't apply to languages with better opportunity for abstractions.

For example, the Iterator pattern is interesting in Java because the language doesn't support it all that well, there's little need for it in languages such as Perl and especially Ruby.

(That may be a bad example, but I don't want to get into something more complex such as the Decorator.)

2006-07-15 06:13:27
I'm a big fan of Perl and I've been trying to understand why it's perceived as a dying language. I think a good example (and I guess self-reinforcing) is that I've recently cross-trained to Rails as I don't see the (contract) opportunities for Perl that I used to.

One of my main problems with Perl is one of it's perceived strengths - CPAN. It's a huge repository of code (which is great) but the quality varies vastly as do styles of implementation - for example XML processing - depending on if you want to generate/parse XML/XSLT/XQuery etc ... there are many different modules with varying interfaces/C bindings that make it a real bind to pick one and stick with it, I know TMTOWTDI is a Perlism but in this instance I don't consider it a strength and as a developer I just 'want it to work'.

This is a point that other languages will also reach (including Ruby/ROR I guess) but at the moment the 'newer' languages are stronger due to their lack of legacy - maybe the Perl community needs to look at how to handle/restructure/improve this heritage.

2006-07-15 12:12:32
I am big fan of Perl too. Even though recently learning Ruby, I still make program in Perl. Waiting for Perl 6. It will be interesting. I want to have Perl 6 and Ruby in my toolbox.
2006-07-15 12:14:47
bill rules!
2006-07-18 06:50:57
Hi chromes,

Though it should be enough simply to be successful, it's not. I've seen lots of projects get migrated from Perl to Java, and in one case, to VB.Net, often for non-technical reasons (e.g. corporate mergers).

But you know what? I've also seen lots of solid Linux web apps get migrated to Windows Server 2003 lately, for the simple reason that the boss is more comfortable with Windows. Ouch.

As you say, we need to mobilize and evangelize. But in order to evangelize about Perl perceptions, it would be nice to have an occasion -- say, a highly publicized breakthrough success story to ignite interest outside the Perl community, to open minds and pique curiosity.

Why do Rails and AJAX get so much ink compared to Parrot and Pugs? For that matter, why is a costly, painful solution chosen over a better, cheaper, freer one?

I have no doubt that someone somewhere is building The Next Big Thing with Perl6 -- we just don't know what it is yet. That will make evangelism so much easier.

In the meantime, a TPF Perl5/6 certification would be a nice thing.

2006-07-18 15:16:35
rjbond3rd, those are interesting points. I wonder if part of the reason for promoting Ruby and Rails over Perl 6 and Parrot is, first, that Rails is usable now for non-core developers and, second, that it's a toolkit rather than just a language.

I do know of one company getting ready to deploy Parrot in production, but I can't say more about that. There's definitely a lifecycle stage here though.