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TeeJay (2309)

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Working in Truro
Graduate with BSc (Hons) in Computer Systems and Networks
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Journal of TeeJay (2309)

Thursday June 15, 2006
04:36 AM

Perl in "rather healthy actually" shocker

[ #29915 ]

in response to scrottie and sigzero's journals about the sky falling for perl..

Oh yes, silly me. Market forces don't exist. I must be on crack. Programmers use whatever tool they think best. It would be a horrible world if we had to do things like walk into jobs where the language was already speced out by CTOs and project managers who based their decisions partially on following fads [..]

Go talk to a recruiter. Ask him or her how many Perl jobs she has and then ask her how many Java jobs she has. Then ask how many C# jobs she has -- not that that many more people use C# but there are a hell of a lot of openings.

Market forces do exist, but recruitment has a complex relationship with what is being actually used..

Even COBOL and RPG are still very heavily used despite being well out of date, the number of people recruited for it is dropping much much faster than the number of people using it.

As Perl is also very heavily used, but no longer new and cool, it has a large user-base and install-base. There are a huge number of projects our there using perl, and there are a lot of new projects using it. It is still (based on what I have seen and heard and work on) growing, unlike COBOL, RPG and Visual Basic.

Looking at PHP, Python and Ruby - although new and (in the case of Ruby) trendy, they are deployed in a small fraction of the places that Perl is, and the number of roles being recruited for them are negligable - even roles that mention it as a bonus are pretty rare.

Looking at C# - it's still new so people are recruiting, and any decent windows programmer will be moving to C# if they haven't already moved to java - ditto any microsoft skilled outfit for their projects.

But.. when looking for work I have found it increasingly easy to find work doing at least 90% Perl over the past few years, and most of that work is in *nix shops that are doing new projects and choosing to use Perl.

In fact my current contract client (hell! I was to worried to contract until recently, but now I'm confident enough to contract and even landed a contract where I can live in a rural area of the south west UK) is starting new projects that are genuinely "enterprise" and "mission critical" competing with larger more expensive Microsoft and Java based international rivals.

Java has more publicity and management buy in, and a hell of a lot of vendor buy in (Java and .Net vendors pay for most of DDJ and similar magazines / websites).. yes recruiters are asking for lots of Java programmers, but that's been the case for a long time.. it isn't stealing Perl market share.. heck all the cool java kids are raving about Ruby.

In fact the statistics (in the UK at least) back my anecdotes and opinions up - let's look at some graphs showing recruitment figures for the UK..

C# is a new, post bubble technology : - it's market share has increased as it has become accepted and popular.. but it doesn't seem to be taking market share from any of Perl, PHP or Java.

C# Market share increase has to come from somewhere, but it's not Perl, Python or Java.. check ASP, VB, VBScript and possibly some older languages that were already losing market share.

In fact looking at the industry-wide growth it's clear that Perl and Java are the bellweather languages that reflect the health of the industry rather than decline of their marketshare.

Furthermore.. this year and last year the perl community has been even more active and healthy than for a long time - There are now several yearly national Perl Workshops in Europe, with London having it's 2nd Workshop last November, as well as Perl at OSCON Europe, YAPC::EU getting bigger and better, and I've even organised a Perl Technical Meeting in Devon and Cornwall with a good turn out even without the Met Office (based in Exeter) perl users coming.

Perl 6 and Parrot development are accelerating, and I'm even starting to think about porting some of my proof of concept perl 5 packages like Math::Curve::Hilbert to Perl 6 to try it out. Perl 5 Development is also incredible - Catalyst, Maypole, Jifty, DBIx::Class are all pretty new and pushing perl into Java markets, and I'll shortly be releasing Schedule::Chronic::Distributed which will give Java's Quartz a run for it's money pretty soon.

So - Perl is actually looking fighting fit to me.. Yes I'll probably need to pick up some Java and C# soon - but only so that I can integrate systems accross language barriers for work, and so I can learn more enterprise and high reliability design patterns. I don't expect to switch my primary language to something other than Perl for another decade or two


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  • Looking at the graphs of jobs [] marketshare for Java and Perl, I see they are both gaining marketshare, probably mainly from legacy languages and systems, but at the same time some technologies like Python [] and BizTalk [] have stalled in their marketshare growth.

    @JAPH = qw(Hacker Perl Another Just);
    print reverse @JAPH;