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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Many of the most interesting and important C++ applications are not noticed, they are not for sale to the public as programming products, and their implementation language is never mentioned.

    And he knows

    • Because you can do more in C++ than write a weblog in ten minutes?

      I kid, I kid. I talked to Tom Love yesterday (co-creator of Objective-C), and he told me that the Department of Veterans Affairs has a huge system written in MUMPS []. There's a huge amount of software no one outside the company or industry ever hears about.

      • That maybe so, but it doesn't really deal with the question. However, I think the "Is language X dying" is the wrong question. Most languages never really die. Hell, look at COBOL. It'll be around after we're dead and buried I'm sure. So will C++ and Perl, for that matter.

        The right question is "Is language X thriving?". In the case of C++ the general vibe I get is that it's stagnating, continuing on in hardcore backend systems that most people never discuss as you say, but not gaining much traction in ter

        • Sales numbers tell part of the story, but they're a source of contention even within O'Reilly. They can give a good indicator of growth of interest in a subject area, but I'm skeptical about how much information we can glean about the lessening of interest in a subject area.

          You have to measure the age of a book, the total unit sales for a book across its lifetime, and the point in the life cycle of a topic. The former matters because most books have their strongest sales in the first year. After that, physical bookstores tend not to stock them. The relationship has more complications than that, but you get the idea.

          The lifetime sales metric matters when comparing topics of differing maturity. The growth rate of unit sales for Ruby books in late 2005 and early 2006 dwarfed the growth rate of Perl, Python, and PHP books in the same period, but I think it's important to compare the lifetime sales of the Pickaxe to the lifetime sales of the Camel, as well as the number of books on the topic. If there's only one book on a topic and that topic gets hugely popular, the sales numbers of that book should reflect it. However, if you only evaluate sales in quarterly windows, you might not notice that a market of ten-thousand customers with eight thousand buyers in one quarter, two thousand in the second quarter, and five hundred in the third quarter is smaller than a market which consistently buys four thousand units per quarter.

          I'm not sure that the information we've published publicly goes into sufficient detail to draw the appropriate conclusions. Two factors apply here. First, our Bookscan data tends to reflect only retailers with physical presences. I've heard that that represents about half of the book market. We can guess as to the other half, based on our internal data about online sales, but that does introduce some fuzz. Second, we only license the data from Bookscan, so we can't share raw data.

          You're right, though -- it's far better data than TIOBE.