Ward Cunningham on Perl: fast to develop, fast to run, insightful

From an Interview With Ward Cunningham in Dr Dobb's Journal published May 15, 2012:

That's when I picked up Perl. And it shocked me, just how well it worked for finding and plundering files because it had those reg exes built in and stuff like that. And it was so fast. It was fast to compile, it was fast to develop, it was fast to run. I could not believe it was so fast. And I know people like to complain about it, but I also thought it showed a tremendous amount of insight. It was insight, and I looked at it and I said, "Who would have thought of making a language like that?" That's when I realized that open source was here to stay. There is no commercial endeavor that ever would have invented Perl.

But Perl was my escape from object-oriented programming, and I still use it today. Probably a day doesn't go by that I don't just pick up Perl right at the command line just because idiomatically I can write commands. I know there's a command in UNIX but rather than go the command page and try to remember the options, I just write it from scratch in Perl. You know, I go on and finish the line. I know Perl well enough that I can do that. I think if you write big programs you know stuff that I never bothered to learn about Perl.


That's, like, totally unModern!

The beauty of Perl, it scales from a single token to a million tokens. Even other scripting languages don’t match its vocal range. You do have to switch dialects a few times across orders of magnitude, though. Other languages are more self-homogeneous on that count, which people tend to prefer.

For those who don't recognize the name, Ward invented the Wiki (written as a massive Perl4 program), and has also contributed to what is now being called Extreme Programming.

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About Philip Durbin

user-pic I blog about Perl.