Maintaining a Programming Language is a Full-Time Job

by chromatic

In a post to the Perl 5 Porters mailing list, Nicholas Clark (maintainer of the stable version of Perl 5.8) talks about how he feels as if he is running hard to stand still. There are a lot of good changes going into the development version of Perl (what will be 5.10), but making sure that those changes are suitable for the stable version -- as well as keeping new core dual-lived modules up to date.

No one maintains Perl full-time and very few people hack on Perl as paid contributors. Is this the case for other languages?

(It's unfortunate that there's so little publicity about the new features and day-to-day development of Perl. does a great job of describing Linux kernel development every week. I sometimes wonder if a regular developer-level overview of new features, bugfixes, and such would be valuable. If so, I can probably devote resources to it. The same goes for other languages we cover on


2006-04-26 10:06:06
I'd love to see something like this for Ruby (and would be willing to contribute some time/effort to making it happen).
Scott Walters
2006-07-04 12:23:48
I didn't see this particular writeup until Nicholas Clark referenced it. Yes. Extract the new features from the Perl 5 summeries. I want to know that my Foo::Bar $baz works now, and that all of that.

As far as I'm concerned, large companies using Perl need a kick in the arse. Any two bit Java shop would lay off half their staff for the priviledge of having Gosling roaming the halls, but when it comes to Perl, no effort is invested at all into long term infrastructure planning or development. Mentors aren't hired, features aren't lobbied for, support contracts aren't bought, and few enough people are trained that damn near every Perl trainer is a published author.

I've been dealing with recruiters making asses of themselves trying to get my attention, but who aren't the least bit interested when I tell them that I want to work on Web app serving performance in general but not directly on any of their projects. They'll spend millions on servers, and they'll hire people who claim to have this sort of experience to work on projects, but suspicions engage as soon the scope of the work leaves the middle manager you're directly assigned to. I'm not sure exactly why capitalizing on Perl necessarily implies not investing in it in these people's heads.