The Chicago Perl Mongers are excited to officially open the call for participation for YAPC::NA 2008. To submit your proposal, visit the YAPC site, create an account, and let us know what you'd like to talk about. Submissions will be accepted through March 15th 2008, so get yours in soon.
We are currently accepting proposals for conference talks with durations of 20, 45, 70, and 95 minutes. These talks can be directed at any level of Perl programmer, from the noobies to seasoned Perl veterans. If you want to show off an amazing hack or new framework that youve been involved with, this could be your chance. Possibly you just want to contribute to the community by giving an introductory talk on regular expressions or subroutines; we intend on having something for everyone this year.
If 20 minutes is a too intimidating for you right now or if you just dont have enough material to fill up that much time, dont fret, we'll be opening the call for lighting talks soon. These 5-minute mini-presentations are a great way to get a quick point across and to get some experience in presenting in front of a crowd. Keep watching this news source for more information about the lighting talks.
This year we are also planning on introducing more hands-on workshop-style tracks to the conference. These sessions will typically be a little longer than a normal presentation and will be much more informal. During the workshops, conference attendees will be able to interact with presenters to actually do things like compile Parrot or create a hello world program in Perl 6. If you are involved in a project and would like to host a workshop, please contact Josh McAdams directly at joshua dot mcadams at gmail dot com.
YAPC::NA is less than six months away and the organizers have been working hard behind the scenes to get the conference off the ground. We've now got conference dates: June 16th-18th; a venue: IIT's Chicago Campus; dinner/auction plans: an on-campus bowling ally (thanks for the inspiration Houston, last year was a blast); and finally, a website.
The site is ACT-based, so if you've gone to a Perl conference before there is a good chance that you are already familiar with the interface and registered with the system. Feel free to go to the site and let us know that you're planning on attending. We'll be opening up registration and the CFP soon!
Many of you know that I interviewed Bob Walsh for Perlcast about his book "Micro ISV: From Vision To Reality". He in turned talked to me about podcasting and it looks like Perlcast might actually be mentioned in Bob's new book, "Clear Blogging". The text from Bob interviewing me can be found at his clear blogging site... sweet!
Tonight's was Chicago.pm's Dynamic Language Hootenanny, which, despite the cheesy name, was actually a very good showing of some of the features of Perl vs. Python vs. Ruby. Thanks again to Chris McAvoy for presenting and to Andy Lester for bringing the idea to life.
As far as the languages go, I think that I pretty much get the differences between the three. One really likes white space, two really don't like sigils (at least, that's what they claim though I swear I saw the @ poking its ugly head around in Ruby), and all three really make PHP look like the piece of sh!t that it is
So, of all of the talk, there are four things that stood out to me:
1) Ruby and Python don't have a Perlmonks.
Sure, they don't have a CPAN either, but they have the inkling of a CPAN, which is just enough to keep frustrated coders from turning away from the languages. The surprising comment was that ruby-monks and python-monks probably wouldn't work anyway. From Ruby and Python coders perspectives, the cultures just don't allow for something like that to work. I don't really do Python or Ruby, so I'd love to hear if this is true or false and why.
2) Perl doesn't have an interactive interpreter
Yes, it sounds lame... why not just 'perl -de 0' and be done with it. I'll tell you why. 'perl -de 0' is clunky. It just doesn't look as good as 'irb' or 'python'. Would 'alias iperl="perl -de 0"' do the trick. Probably not, but it's close and relatively free. Still, there is no pure interactive interpreter that ships with Perl that I know of.
3) There is nothing new in Perl.
Perl has been around. It has matured. If you need it, whatever it is, it is probably on CPAN. The intention of the presentation tonight was to show an example of an Enigma Machine in Perl, Python and Ruby. Chris had a little trouble with examples in all of the languages, but lo-and-behold, there is an Enigma Machine already on CPAN.
What does this mean? It means that a Perl coder can pretty much just grab pre-built modules and create feature-rich programs with little challenge. What else does this mean? It means that the barrier to entry to being an acknowledged contributing member to the Perl community is higher than that in many other languages. Create a new Ruby templating system? Amazing! Create a new Perl templating system? Add it to the list.
It is very possible that the richness of Perl is actually causing people to develop in other languages because it is easier to be a recognized figure in a burgeoning community. Mature code might be causing smart coders to go to other languages because it is easier to impress their communities than it is to impress a CPAN-worn Perl coder.
This could be good or bad. Possibly the best stick around and make Perl even better. Possibly the best leave and create a Perl equivalent in yet another syntax, adding little to the art of programming. It seems like we are at an interesting time in the evolution of Perl where it is mature enough to be taken seriously by those that we could care less about and yet is too mature to be fun and rewarding to contribute to.
4) Perl is web 1.0
Okay, so this one was one of the comments that really struck a chord with me. Sure, Perl can do web 2.0, but if I am trying grok Perl, what sites really represent Perl? To me there are four: perl.org, perl.com, use.perl.org, and perlmonks.org. Perl.com is in O'Reilly's hands and is beyond most everyone's control because they have to fit into the O'Reilly brand. Still, there is a feel of professionalism to the site. The remaining three sites at least seem more open, but at the same time they are more disheartening. use.perl.org and perlmonks.org are both based on slashcode, which, well, just hasn't seemed to keep up with the times. The look of both is outdated, the RSS feeds that are produced are poor, and the CSS support is mediocre. The content is great, but the usability is just not there based on today's standards. There have even been hacks on the sites trying to create somewhat usable feeds, but even these can't produce a simple usable RSS feed that doesn't suck. And finally Perl.org... it isn't ugly, but it isn't pretty, and it sure isn't something that would drive someone to look deeper into Perl.
Would Perl benefit by taking some of that precious grant money and paying a site designer or, gasp, a marketer to design a new look at feel for Perl that fits into the web today? A new look might drive some of the old Perl faithfuls away, then again, it might bring some new talent into the mix. Luckily, it's not my call.
Overall, this was a great meeting. Tons of conversation and catalyst for hours of thought. Thanks again to everyone for joining us.