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grantm (164)

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Just a simple [] guy, hacking Perl for fun and profit since way back in the last millenium. You may find me hanging around in the monestary [].

What am I working on right now? Probably the Sprog project [].

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Journal of grantm (164)

Friday May 23, 2008
10:59 PM

Why I'm Passionate About Perl

[ #36506 ]
The person who introduced me to Perl showed me that...
I ended up introducing myself to Perl. I was a sysadmin doing a lot of shell scripting and feeling like there must be a better way. In the past I'd done a fair bit of C, and before that Pascal and BASIC. None of these were really applicable and I kept reading about Perl in Usenet postings so I decided it was worth a closer look. I was too cheap to pay for a book so I just read the man pages. The fact that I was able to teach myself the language primarily from the perldoc is a testament to the accessibility of Perl.
I first starting using Perl to...
My first significant Perl project was automating the installation of Solaris (1.0) on Sun workstations. My scripts managed the network boot process and made installation decisions (disk partition sizes, packages selections etc) based on what hardware was found and what roles the workstation had been associated with. The system allowed us to do a 'bare metal' install by setting some flags on the server then initiating a reboot over the network - all finished and ready for the user to log in, in under 15 minutes.
I kept using Perl because...
With my background in shell and sysadmin work, Perl was a really good fit for the way I thought about problems. Later when I moved into developing web-based applications, Perl again was a natural fit. Compared to my earlier C experience, not having to bother with compiles and makefiles and lowlevel memory management meant Perl was a huge productivity boost and it also put the fun back into programming for me. The Perl culture also tends to favour pragmatic and practical solutions rather than complex ivory tower frameworks.
I can't stop thinking about Perl...
I wouldn't say that I dream in Perl, but I do use it every day both for work and for fun. I also coordinate the local Perl Mongers group, maintain some CPAN modules and try to write the odd article now and then. So Perl is regularly in my thoughts.
I'm still using Perl because...
There are a lot of really smart people using Perl and contributing to the Perl community. I have learnt a lot from them that has benefitted me professionally and personally. The fact that I am comfortable standing up presenting to a roomful of people is a direct result of my involvement with the Perl community. Test driven development is something that pervades the Perl community and has been of immense benefit to me. Not only is it easy to write code in Perl it's super easy to write tests too.
I get other people to use Perl by...
I have fun with Perl. Sometimes fun can be contagious. The Perl Mongers groups are an excellent way for people to build their Perl skills and develop professional networking skills. I'm happy to share Perl solutions when people are trying to solve a problem, but I'm not trying to force Perl on anyone and I'm always interested in learning better ways to do something.
I also program in ... and ..., but I like Perl better since...
I mentioned that I used to program in C. I've had no need to do that for many years since Perl has met my requirements for everything from simple glue scripts to full-blown web apps and complex GUI applications. I've tried Java a few times but it seems to change so much in every major release that I find my references books are always out of date. I also haven't been able to find the same sort of supportive community for Java as I found with Perl. And perhaps most importantly I just don't find Java fun. Ruby on the other hand is definitely fun. It has all the best bits of Perl with a cleaner syntax and object model. There are a large number of Ruby libraries available but I have been repeatedly disappointed by encountering incomplete and abandoned solutions. The fact that Perl's CPAN modules generally integrate well with Linux packaging systems (unlike Ruby's Gem packages) is also a win for me. Perl's TAP-based testing tools are also so much simpler to use than the xUnit style favoured by the strictly OO languages. More recently I have dabbled with PHP but been frustrated by the limited syntax (eg: regexes are too hard to use), poor modularity and the insane hasharray thingies. I have also done a fair bit of work with Tcl and it was also less painful than Java but ultimately Perl is a better fit for the way I think.
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