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perrin (4270)

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Perrin is a contributor to various Perl-related projects like mod_perl, Template Toolkit, and Class::DBI. He is a frequent speaker at OSCON, YAPC, and ApacheCon, and a contributor to several perl-related books.

Journal of perrin (4270)

Tuesday July 31, 2007
02:27 PM

don't be so dismissive

[ #33934 ]

I don't know if this is an actual trend, or I'm just noticing it more, but I feel like people are being more dismissive of others' work these days. Nat Torkington actually touched on this a little at OSCON in his keynote (which is available online, incdentally.) There's a tendency to just write off entire popular projects with some kind of sweeping generalization. We all make jokes about the "competition" now and then, but lately it feels more vicious.

I'll give you a couple of examples. First, MySQL. I heard lots of snide remarks about MySQL at OSCON. Some people went as far as to say that if everyone would use Postgres instead, none of the scaling techniques we hear about (like splitting your db up into shards on multiple servers) would be necessary.

Think about who uses MySQL: Yahoo, Google, etc. These people have enough money to try Postgres, and a huge financial incentive to look for something that would make their database scaling easier. Don't you think they might have tried it? Maybe it didn't meet their needs. Maybe it's better at certain things than Postgres.

Another popular target is PHP. People who have never used it slam it left and right as being a tool for idiots. The fact is, some of the smartest people I know do a lot of work in PHP. It's not a toy language anymore. It has nice OO support. It has a profiler that works more reliably than Devel::DProf.

The problem with this attitude is that what goes around comes around. I recall being at an open source content management conference and having a Java fan derisively say to me "People still use Perl?" I also experienced how this looks from the other side: this guy came off as an arrogant fool.

Tools that become very popular, like MySQL, PHP, and Perl, have good reasons for it. Even if they aren't your chosen tools, keeping enough of an open mind to learn from what they do right is worth it. I know I learn a great deal from articles and talks for Java programmers, even though I haven't used it as a primary language since I stopped working at Scholastic.

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  • I recall […] having a Java fan derisively say to me “People still use Perl?”

    I have two data points here… consider first what chromatic says [], and then on that basis, ponder a remark from Piers Cawley []. Hmm…

    • I don't know many Java folks who have as a goal that the average person should be able to write a computer program now and then... which is odd, when I consider that a very strong design goal of the language was so that barely-trained monkeys should be able to program without doing too much damage.