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jjohn (22)

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Perl hack/Linux buff/OSS junkie.

Journal of jjohn (22)

Friday June 24, 2005
03:15 PM

Perl shrugs

[ #25348 ] is reporting:

«When it comes to programming skills, .NET is hot but Perl is not, according to the report. .NET requests rose 52 percent, HTML postings climbed 38 percent and XML demand increased 37 percent, Dice said, but the demand for tech professionals with Perl experience has declined 12 percent since the beginning of the year.»

Ouch! HTML and XML are in more demand than Perl. That can't be good. On the other hand, I wouldn't say Perl is exactly dead either. It's still part of the very popular LAMP paradigm and is a wonderful language for business logic code (where PHP isn't). What I think this article suggests is that there are a lot of corporate infrastructure gigs popping up (hence the .NET spike) and not so much start-up activity. Start-ups, being sensitive to cost, will likely gravitate towards open source tools. I predict that the more the business climate favors start-ups, the more open source jobs will become available.

Of course, what Dice doesn't show are those start-ups that aren't advertising, but may be making a great deal of hay with Perl and other OSS tools. This might be called the "dark job market", after the fashion of unused internet capacity ("dark net") or the hypothetical mass in the universe that we can't directly detect ("dark matter").

I've had somewhat what morbid thoughts about the state of Perl for some time now. I don't think Perl is addressing business needs as directly as it did in 1995, which isn't surprising considering how different things are today. I feel that we're in some crazy retread of the late eighties, but instead of the sluggishness of PC hardware development, we're in a malaise of software stagnation. I'm unclear to exactly what the bottleneck is, but it is likely to be removed soon. No one can really know if Perl will be able to compete for a niche when the flood comes.

I don't have much hope for Perl's competitors either. Python and Ruby have no significant advantage over Perl (which isn't to say they have no advantage). PHP is a great domain-specific solution; java is far more bed-ridden than Perl; .NET is today's snakeoil. Maybe, as Cringley suggests, Flash will swoop-in, transformed into the all-singing, all-dancing solution to all our computer needs. But, I sort of doubt Flash has all that much longer to live.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm ready for the New Wave to begin.

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  • See [], which reports that each month's posting count has on the average exceeded the previous month's count since 2001.

    And the jobs have gotten significantly more pay as well. And postings are going unfilled, say my friends.

    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge
  • Will you be at YAPC::NA next week? Let the new wave begin!
    • I'm not sure whether you're addressing Randal or me, but being a narcissist, I'll assume you're talking to me. I won't be at YAPC (the last one I went to was 2002 []). The irony is that I'm busier than ever making money with Perl, which is why I'm not heading off to the conventions. My sense of malaise is echoed by several of my programming friends, but could be entirely due to a chemical imbalance. Oh wait, Tom Cruise says there's no such thing []. Never mind.

      I should also mention I don't think people shoul

      • Narcissist - haw!

        I share your concerns.

      • Yes, and he knows the history of psychology. Nobody else does. Certainly not psychiatric professionals. Or, hell, history books.



        You are what you think.
  • The reason why perl was so successful was the speed with which you could build things in comparison to the alternatives at the time: It was more structured than shell scripting/awk/sed and much easier to use than C.

    Unfortunately it's almost as fast to build things in Java and .NET, and those languages have all the corporate backing.

    It's a shame they're no fun. We have a guy at work who is a long-time perl programmer who desperately wanted to get into .NET (for job prospects that's probably a good idea). E