Why are people asking for a Perl name change again?
There has recently recently been an increase people asking, seriously or in jest, for Perl 5 and/or Perl 6 to be renamed and others offering rebuffals of various types. You could say a heated debate seems to be going on.
However, one thing stands out here: It does not seem to be clear to either party exactly why the party is saying what it is saying. And when the realization arrives, some realize that it should be fairly obvious and stop arguing, but do not make their realization public, leaving others to make the same mistake.
As such, i'll try to put it into the most simple words i can here:
The existence of Perl 6 means that for the decision makers in IT, the managers and CEOs who are not even programmers, Perl 5 appears to be obsolete.
This is not a language issue, this is not a feature issue, this is not a community issue. This is entirely an issue of marketing Perl 5 to the people who control the money, because they decide which developers to hire and what languages to train their developers in and which language to use in their next project. Many of them will not make the decision based on how shiny Moose, Dancer or Mojolicious are, or how many modules there are on CPAN. They will make the decision based on gut feeling and on how well they can sell it to shareholders.
The name Perl 6 implies to non-technical people that it is newer and better than Perl 5 and that Perl 5 is abandoned and a waste of time and money to invest in. There is a lot of vibrancy and activity in the Perl 5 community, with new tools and toys springing up weekly and improvements being made to the core regularly, but this is only visible to programmers, people who are on the ground and working on it.
People who ask for name changes do not do it so they can effect great upsets in the Perl development. Perl 5 has had a great many upsets since it was first called Perl 5.
People ask for name changes so they can show the rest of the world just how alive Perl 5 really is.
Thank you for this post, drives the point home nicely. I just hope that people will understand the issue at long last.
BTW, funny side-note and a shameless plug: it seems summer is the best time for a discussion on renaming Perl, as I've written mine last July (http://rassie.org/archives/312).
I think "asking" is a little strong. I think they are mostly lamenting the fact. They know the name isn't changing.
God I hope no one working to advance either front is spending time on this issue. I'd much prefer progress on things that are important to me as a Perl user and author. Names are not on that list, so much so that if you insist on a new name, try and select it (or them) from the works of H. P. Lovecraft which at least would reflect what a nightmare this entire discussion represents to me. The Perl community has been bad-mouthed by both IT and the press for at least the last 15 years that I've been involved---why in the world would that change. I guess we could follow the Ubuntu tradition and see just how bizarre each iteration could be; all without paying that much attention to fixing the damn things before release...
I think this was the point I was intending to get to, I just did it in a more rambling manner (due to the fact I never intended that to get published just yet).
Thank you. This is what I've been seeing, sitting back and reading. You've hit the nail on the head.
Those of us who use Perl every day know this. Some of us may be oblivious entirely that there is a Perl6 thing (I was oblivious until 2007 when a coworker brought it up).
But like it or not we are not always the ones making the decisions. And it is the decision makers who need to know the difference. And the general populace has gotten trained into thinking that a major number increase in a software title means the next version. Not a symbiotic version.
I enjoyed your piece back then and i still wish something like with ECMAScript can happen here.
We're still asking. We just have stopped repeating it because it's pointless to try and run up against sarcasm and stubbornness.
To answer your question: Change. Perl is badmouthed because it is not perceived to have any change. As stupid as that sounds: Getting big version numbers rolling again would make the change that is happening visible. Just plain human nature.
This point is clearly demonstrated by the way Python 3 absolutely killed adoption of Python 2 for years. Now that's it's released and stable, I expect that there will be no more work on and in Python 2.
That is to say, I disagree with this assessment. Every company and client I've worked for seems to understand that Perl 6 is a totally different language and that Perl 5 is going to continue to be reliable, flexible and developed on for many years to come.
I once applied for a company here in germany, Idealo, that does price comparisons. They are owned by the country's biggest media conglomerate. Their stake in Perl is that it drives the data retrieval processes.
When i sat there to talk with them they told me these things:
They were awaiting Perl 6 because it would be "much faster than Perl 5". They are frustrated that Perl 6 is so long in the coming. As such their management decided to migrate to Java because Perl 5 is clearly going nowhere.
This was less than a year ago.
I hope they're not waiting for Java 7 then.
And I would certainly be aghast at such a thing. However, I just don't believe that the belief that Perl 6 is coming to usurp Perl 5 is all that wide-spread. Indeed, a company that is reliant on Perl 5 code and still thinks that way has far bigger problems. Again, this would apply to any language (and probably any other software) that they depend on - FOSS or not!