Is Perl really short of newbies?
Before writing about the main topic, let me tell you a little bit about myself, my peers & why I am writing this blog post etc.
How I got into perl?
During my college winter vacations (dec, 2011 to jan, 2012), I was planning to learn something new. I picked up HTML/CSS (because I was quite interested in web development kind of stuff), but soon I realized that front-end stuff is not my forte & I should not spend more of my time on it. I discussed it with my brother & he suggested me to learn Perl.
I started with Beginning perl by Simon Cozens & liked it. Before perl, I did a fair amount of Java (for one of my college projects). I liked Java also, but later I got to know about its drawbacks as a language. I learnt Python & Ruby as well (but have not used them much). I solve Project Euler problems in my free time, for solving those problems, perl is my preferred choice. No one forces me to use Perl for those problems, but I do it on my own wish.
Only thing I dislike about Perl
It's very vast. Yes, I found it very vast, which sometimes create problems. But it's because Perl follows TIMTOWTDI which is both, good & bad.
A little bit about my real peers (who I met in person)
All of my real friends are living in India. Most of them are in Java, PHP & Python. As far as I remember, I have suggested all of them to learn Perl at one or the other point, but I've no idea why they didn't learn Perl.
A little bit about my virtual peers (who I met only on the internet)
I've a long list of virtual peers. Only one of them is from Perl community. Others are from Python. It's very much possible that it's just a co-incidence :).
A little bit about GNOME's Outreach Program for Women
I participated in GNOME's Outreach Program for Women during the last summer. I was shocked/sad to hear that there were very few applicants for Perl projects as compared to other projects. For more details, check out this blog post.
But why do I care?
- I'm also a part of perl community.
- I like perl
- I don't want perl to become Lisp in future. So many people have suggested me to learn lisp, but when I ask them do you know/use lisp, answer is "No, I don't have time to learn it, but it's wonderful" in most of the cases.
But why I'm writing this blog post?
I'm working on a talk on the topic "How to bring more newbies to Perl?" for YAPC::NA, 2014 & OSCON. Honestly speaking, I was short of content :(. I talked to Chris Prather about this. He said that he's been thinking about this since yrs :D. He gave me some valid points too (I've made a little bit of minor changes in these points) :
- Perl hasn't been "popular" for nearly a decade now
- It had, rightfully, a reputation as a horrible language.
- So many people stopped paying attention to Perl when there was a better choice. Rails being the biggest most obvious place.
- I've dealt with a number of people who had previously worked in Perl but haven't touched it since ~2005, all of them remember when Perl's toolchain was painful etc.
- We can do things like promoting modern solutions to problems for bringing thos people back to perl, e.g. this one
After talking to Chris, I asked about it on twitter : "Why there're fewer newbies in perl as compared to other languages? What we can do(as individuals & as community) to overcome this problem?"
I got so many replies, Joel Berger suggested me to write a blog post about it, because he (& me also) were finding it difficult to follow the stuff on twitter. So, I decided to write this blog post.
Summary of the responses I got:
- Bad reputation of older perl
- Not marketed as cool/hip/new enough
- Docs are hard to follow
- Community is not good (which is totally wrong)
- Companies don't want to train newbies, they want perl experts
- *Are* there fewer newbies in Perl? Or, rather: be sure to cite data. I found this data which clearly shows that Perl is less popular than Python, PHP & Ruby. Thanks to Gabor Szabo for publishing it.
- We should give talks at non-perl events to tell newbies about cool things in Perl
Most of the above responses are from people who're doing perl from so many yrs (I think none of them is a newbie as of now, but I might be wrong), one from a person who started with perl 10 yrs ago, but left it because of syntax.
Now, you all can give your views in comments :)
Thanks to everyone who shared his/her views on this topic :)