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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • The first company that I worked at used a lot of awk scripts and one-liners. We ended up moving to perl due to some limitations of awk (if I remember correctly it had to do with the max size of records that awk could handle).

    When I moved to my second company perl wasn't used at all which is very surprising considering the code base was in the millions of LOC and a good portion of that was reports/extracts/loads. I promoted perl heavily from day one and after solving some internal requests with perl very quickly (project management reports with a web front end, a bunch of one-off data formatting scripts, amongst others) the language was accepted for production use. By the time I left we had over 100 reports written in perl and numerous loads and extracts.

    With my current company I have designed a load framework in perl and have received buy in to slowly switch over all our C loads onto the new framework and I have tentative approval to switch our SQR reports to perl.

    I mention this to illustrate how (I believe) perl became the workhorse in many companies. A few (or even one) people who passionately pushed the language.

    Will that passion be there in the future? Or is more likely that the passion will be over Python or Ruby. Will that passion even survive almost-universal condescension?

    When perl was the defacto standard for web/CGI a lot of people came to the language. With the rise of php IMO we are losing a significant number of programmers who 10 years ago would have come to perl for web programming and stayed with it for server programming. Now is it more likely for the people who start with php to move to perl or to python/ruby?

    Perl's advantage is the legacy code in organizations aroung the world and the fact that it will be an easier sell to move to Perl6 then to port to python/ruby/??.

    The other advantage is Perl6. Without that coffee cup being thrown against the wall I believe that perl was headed toward stagnation and an eventual dwindling away. Still used as a glue language and as a better sh but that would be it.

    With perl 6 though ... now we have a language. Continuations, closures, currying, real macros, mixins/roles, rules, junctions, and an amazing type system (to name only what comes to mind). This is a language that will grow with the developer and with almost any problem domain.

    • Oh, I know how that came to be. I also firmly believe that Perl, even as Perl5, will continue to be successful as a workhorse because it lends itself so well to small tasks. Only Ruby comes close; Python is not going to steal mindshare among those who frequently write very short, disposable code. Once you’re catching small fish with a tool that’s capable of hunting bigger ones, you’re likely to use it lots.

      However, all of that really is tangential to the main point I was pondering, which