It started a few months ago with some small hints... after one or two instances of encountering german Perl people in the last 3 years I've bumped into 3 in three months.
- I'm using the german-authored PCE editor as a base for my PPI-based refactoring editor grant.
- I'm hosting German backpacker/programmer RENEEB for a week at my office to work on a small project
- The OpenOpenOffice contributor SCAI are all Perl people (although they are migrating away to some degree)
The big moment being when I was on the phone to Germany, while hacking on the German editor, with another German sitting 6 feet away coding with the same German editor.
Something odd is going on...
Talking to Renee about the current Perl coder drought in AU (I know of 90-100k jobs sitting there waiting for any competant senior Perl coder) he says the same situation exists in Germany, there simply aren't enough competant Perl coders and so salaries are high.
But in Germany, if you turn up to a Perl meeting in one of the four big cities that have Perl communities you are going to meet a whole gaggle of 19 and 20 year old Perl coders, the meetings are practically dominated by that age group. And big companies in Germany are starting to discover Perl more and more as they realise that it's ideal for pretty much _every_ job other than the enormous core business apps. And that it's the ideal scripting language for Windows systems.
One long term problem I think the English-language (and _certainly_ the AU) Perl communities have is that Perl isn't perceived as being sexy any more.
And I'm coming to the conclusion that we don't make Perl sexy again by rewriting the language itself, although for people that are interested in the languages themselves, it may well.
As with many things that are dominated as much by perception as by reality, maybe what we really need to be looking more at is the complete experience that people have when trying to do real life tasks, rather than just how much fun it is to use the language itself.
To hear Renee talk, it sounds like the German Perl Community has really nailed this on the head, providing a huge amount of high quality support infrastrcture (wikis, websites, mailing lists, meetings, events et al) so that when a young coder starts to use Perl, they recieve so much support and can get so much stuff done, that they stick with the language and don't leave to another language jaded by their experience.
I don't know exactly what they are doing, but they are doing it right. Maybe they've done it all along but haven't engaged with the rest of the world quite as much... Whatever it is, the rest of us need to be doing it as well.
If they keep it up, I think we are going to be seeing a _lot_ more German Perl coders appearing on or dominating high-profile Perl developments in the years to come.
And I for one welcome our new German überlords.