N1VUX is my FCC-issued ham radio callsign.
I was reminded by Nat's comment on learning Python and a comment on Boston.PM list referring to a Slash-Dot thread (that strangely claims PHP has defeated Java) that that I had had a revelation at a LUG meeting recently.
I have heard two reasons to prefer Python to Perl that made sense -- and the source and sense of the second one scared me.
«Python: One goal is "python everywhere." It is the energy that surrounds us and binds us as Jeff Waugh has said.
«We are working hard to have everything extensible by Python. Mark loves Python.»
In Q&A, Mako elaborated that having one scripting language for system install, config, startup files and for application customization/integration/scripting is obviously a win. But the reason for preferring Python over Perl in the Gnome+Python+security Ubuntu-preferred feature-set is the simplicity of syntax will make it more acceptable / accessible as a mere scripting language to non-programmers, the desktop users. The minimal subset is perceived to be smaller.
This is reasonable, potentially pervasive, and thus dangerous. Since he's the millionaire astronaut behind Ubuntu, Mark can do this. If he succeeds in making Ubuntu the replacement for Windows -- and all FLOSS users should hope he does, even Perl Mongers -- Python will be the replacement for WinDos ComManD files and VBA scripting (Visual Basic for Applications), and the replacement for most BASH too.
Modest Proposals Needed
« unless we can come up with something that will excite the community, because everyone's getting bored and going off and doing other things»
is still, or again, true. Perl6 is exciting, but what Perl community will be left for it to excite when it is done? They are wandering off -- even Nat is learning Python, though he says it's only a dalliance, not an affair of the heart -- but more seriously, the niches that were once Perl's alone are crowded with too many kinds of finches in one niche.
I'll play Devil's Advocate.(or perhaps Estate Agent and look at our location, location location selling points)
Is Parrot the redemption of Perl, or the path to obscurity? If Parrot makes Python run faster and gives it native access to all of CPAN and 6PAN, does Perl become just the esoteric language for a small band of FLOSS gurus to implement modules for Ubuntu and Open Office users to call from their Python scripts?
So what "ecological" niches has Perl had in the past, and where can Perl5/Perl6 continue expand in the future?
In the market place of ideas it's grow or die. The Media new and old -- magazine publishers, slash-dot, book publishers, stock pickers, bloggers -- treat everything as if you aren't growing you must be shrinking, and if you aren't the fastest growing you aren't growing. This is strange logic, but all too often self-fulfilling.
So, where do we grow?