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gabor (1626)

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Perl developer and trainer []
Test automation using Perl []

Journal of gabor (1626)

Wednesday August 27, 2003
02:33 AM

Programming language popularity

[ #14341 ]
Nearly every time I mention I use Perl I get these empty looks:

I have never heard of that.

Once in a while I ask back:

So what programming languages have you heard about ?

and either it turns out the person cannot name any language or I get Java and C and sometimes even VB if I happen to talk to a VB programmer.

Some people will immediately say
That must be some old language !
and look at me sligthly forgiving. I am not really sure what do they mean by that. Does that mean being old is considered to be bad ? For a language ? Then I guess C should be in even worse situation.

So I wonder how popular Perl really is and how many people use Perl ?
I did some research but I'd be glad to see more estimates.

According to TIOBE Perl is the 4th most popular programming language (after Java, C and C++).

According to ActiveState there are approximately four million users of Perl, Python, Tcl,PHP and XSLT. I have no idea how to get a cloeser estimate on the Perl users from this.

According to this discussion on the Perl Monks there are about 25.000 registered Monks but of course there are lots of people who have never heard about the Perl Monks.

According to Time O'Reilly the Programming Perl book sold over 600,000 copies. If we assume the extreme case that all 3 editions were sold to exactly the same people we get 200,000 different people who bought it. I'd guesstimate more the 3-400,000 range.

More pointers are welcome !

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  • In the heyday of the dot-com boom (and pre-Java days), I used to tout the estimate (based on book sales, trainings we did, and on how many programmers didn't buy the books) that there were between 250K and 1 million people who had written a line of Perl code in the previous month.

    However, times have changed. {grin}

    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge
      • In the heyday of the dot-com boom (and pre-Java days)...

      Are you referring to two different periods, say 1995 and 1999? Java was well established during the heyday of the dot-com boom.

      Or, are you saying that Java has become much more entrenched since the dot-com boom? I guess I could see that. With the Industry contraction, shops are choosing one language for development a lot of times and Java often wins the competitions. Of course, recently Java is feeling the heat of competition from .net.