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NOTE: use Perl; is on undef hiatus. You can read content, but you can't post it. More info will be forthcoming forthcomingly.

All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Note that the question is not "Why is Perl better than PHP", but rather "Why should I use it?"

    Off the top of my head:

    1. Perl is used in places that PHP isn't. You'll find Perl applications everywhere from unix system administration to car parking. Learning Perl gives you the opportunity to work in more places doing different things.
    2. In many cases somebody else has written most of your application for you. CPAN is a stupidly useful resource.
    3. All languages make some things easier and some things harder.
    • (Attempting to channel a recalcitrant, skeptical PHP programmer....)

      Perl is used in places that PHP isn't. You'll find Perl applications everywhere from unix system administration to car parking. Learning Perl gives you the opportunity to work in more places doing different things.

      That's fine, but why should I care? I'm never going to use a Sequent, port my application to AIX 4 or DYNIX. It's nice that sysadmins can use Perl, but if I don't care about writing sysadmin scripts, what's the point?

      • Responding to the recalcitrant, sceptical PHP programmer rather than ziggy :-)

        That's fine, but why should I care? I'm never going to use a Sequent, port my application to AIX 4 or DYNIX. It's nice that sysadmins can use Perl, but if I don't care about writing sysadmin scripts, what's the point?

        None.

        Let me be clear. I'm not trying to say "you should drop PHP and use Perl". I'm saying "here are some reasons you should consider learning Perl as well".

        If none of them apply, then don't learn Perl. Does

        • (still channelling the recalcitrant, sceptical PHP programmer...)
          Learning more programming languages can only make you more employable. If your concentrating on web development targeting the other primary language used for web development would seem sensible.

          Your defending the argument with still more platitudes. Specifically, you're making a generalized argument that PHP programmers should learn more languages, but you're not saying anything specific about why PHP programmers should learn Perl. (To be fair, HOP is a pretty compelling and specific answer, but only one answer; learning Perl just to read HOP isn't entirely necessary. In fact, it really highlights that you should just skip Perl/HOP and jump straight into Scheme/SICP [mit.edu]/SICM [mit.edu] and just read those a couple of times.)

          Also, if you follow your line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, learning a language not primarily used for web development would be more of a benefit. Any language can be used for web development (have you seen the web server written in PostScript [planetmirror.com]?), so all the better to learn a language that extends your grasp, instead of just introducing you to another corner of your current sandbox.

          Yes everything that needs a public interface will likely soon have some kind of web based interface. But that's only the interface - the tip of the iceberg. The munging of data behind the scenes is the meat. The difficult bit. The bit you get paid more for. Perl has been lord and master of that domain in many organisations for some time. Nobody is going to port everything over to PHP just because it's your favourite language.

          True, but data munging can be done in any language, which is why it's mostly done in Java or C#. Or PHP. If Perl were really used in "many organizations" for the heavy stuff, that would be reflected in lots of correlating data: book titles, book sales, magazines, conferences, job ads, tools, etc. pretty much uniformly distributed across the technical world.

          The one thing that Perl has shown beyond a reasonable doubt is that you really need a good regex library in your toolkit, which every language pretty much has now. All of which just puts Perl on par with pretty much every other language out there. Where's the real benefit to Perl qua Perl?

          So, if it were me, I wouldn't be aiming content at the sceptics because I don't think it's a battle that can be won. I'd be aiming material at the people who are thinking "there must be a little bit more to software development than this".

          True, but if you're hoping to change anyone's mind, you need to be able to answer the skeptic. Offering shallow reasoning to support your argument doesn't really convince anyone in the long run. It just sets up high expectations and mostly fails to deliver them.

          • (still responding to the recalcitrant, sceptical PHP programmer...)

            Your defending the argument with still more platitudes. Specifically, you're making a generalized argument that PHP programmers should learn more languages, but you're not saying anything specific about why PHP programmers should learn Perl

            I thought the "targeting the other primary language used for web development" was fairly specific :-)

            In fact, it really highlights that you should just skip Perl/HOP and jump straight into Scheme/