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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • As I discussed in my Perl Journal article entitled "Is it Time for Perl Certification?" [], knowledge certification is a tricky business, and knowledge certification tests having the power to affect people's careers should ideally follow proper psychometric procedures, so at least we know that they measure what they purport to measure--rather than merely measuring skill at taking multiple choice tests, for example.

    Another concern is that a single test should not try to test more than is feasible, or necessary. All existing Perl certification tests seem to view Perl knowledge as unidimensional, and Perl programmers as homogenous entities, amenable to assessment through a single test. A more realistic view is that some Perl programmers (e.g., those working in System Administration roles) may need only the most rudimentary kind of "procedural" Perl programming skills, while others (e.g., those working on large projects with other developers) may well need more advanced knowledge, including familiarity with OO techniques.

    I believe that:

    • For greater acceptance in the workplace, Perl could benefit from a professional-grade certification suite for its programmers
    • In recognition of Perl's complexity, its broad range of applicability to diverse tasks, and the wide variations in Perl dialects used by its programmers, it's unreasonable to expect that the knowledge needed by a programmer to do a particular job can be assessed with a single test
      • although all programmers might be expected to pass a test that covers the language's most fundamental features
    • Ideally, a Perl certification suite should be developed and maintained by the Perl Community itself, to ensure that we approve of it and control it

    Interested JAPHs have engaged in spirited discussions [] about fashioning certification tests that cater to the unique properties of Perl and its JAPHs. Due to the effects of book interference [] on my supply of spare time, progress on this project has been on hold for some time, but I plan to resume work on it soon. I encourage those who want to help, in roles ranging from surveying IT managers to writing the actual certification tests, to sign up on this web page [].


    Dr. Tim Maher
    CEO, Consultix
    Perl and UNIX Training []