Why is Perl losing ground?

Discussion in 'Perl Misc' started by Dominic, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. Dominic

    Dominic Guest

    As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
    losing ground to another bunch of languages, namely: Python, PHP and
    Ruby. I'd like to hear your opinions. Is Perl just not "trendy" anymore?
    Does it still scare programmers who haven't used it? Or do the other
    languages have any major advantages over Perl? I haven't worked in these
    other languages, so I'm not qualified to have much of an opinion here.
    What do you think?

    - Dom
    Dominic, Feb 9, 2004
    #1
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  2. -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
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    At 2004-02-09T15:54:40Z, Dominic <> writes:

    > As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
    > losing ground to another bunch of languages [...]


    Is it? It may not be getting the same buzz, but I haven't seen it
    declining.

    > namely: Python


    I have to admit that I really, really like Python, and I've started using it
    in places where I would've previously used Perl. It's a very personal
    decision, though; Python is usually a closer match to the way *I* model
    systems than Perl, but that's clearly not true for everyone.

    > PHP


    Oh, Lord. I can't stand PHP. It seems like someone wanted "Perl Lite" for
    web scripting, and when it caught on and people started demanding more
    functionality, they just started randomly adding portions of almost-Perl
    until it compiled without too many warnings. I can't think of one single
    reason why anyone would use PHP over Perl, other than "my free web host made
    it available", which is just a made decision made cyclic.
    - --
    Kirk Strauser
    The Strauser Group
    Open. Solutions. Simple.
    http://www.strausergroup.com/
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    Kirk Strauser, Feb 9, 2004
    #2
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  3. Dominic

    Ben Morrow Guest

    Kirk Strauser <> wrote:
    > > As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
    > > losing ground to another bunch of languages [...]

    >
    > Is it? It may not be getting the same buzz, but I haven't seen it
    > declining.


    Well, given that Once Upon A Time Perl was the only thing between
    shell and C, it's not surprising that it's giving a bit. I don't think
    the Perl community has suffered in any material way from Python et
    al., though: rather the opposite.

    > > > PHP

    >
    > Oh, Lord. I can't stand PHP. It seems like someone wanted "Perl Lite" for
    > web scripting, and when it caught on and people started demanding more
    > functionality, they just started randomly adding portions of almost-Perl
    > until it compiled without too many warnings. I can't think of one single
    > reason why anyone would use PHP over Perl, other than "my free web host made
    > it available", which is just a made decision made cyclic.


    PHP is great for what it was designed for: a simple way to put a small
    amount of scripting into a basically static HTML page. It's been
    stretched *waay* beyond that now, though, and needs the same sort of
    major rewrite/rethink that happened perl4->perl5. (FWIW I have heard
    from friends who actually use the language :) that the PHP folks are
    doing something along these lines now).

    Ben

    --
    perl -e'print map {/.(.)/s} sort unpack "a2"x26, pack "N"x13,
    qw/1632265075 1651865445 1685354798 1696626283 1752131169 1769237618
    1801808488 1830841936 1886550130 1914728293 1936225377 1969451372
    2047502190/' #
    Ben Morrow, Feb 9, 2004
    #3
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    At 2004-02-09T17:07:32Z, Ben Morrow <> writes:

    > PHP is great for what it was designed for: a simple way to put a small
    > amount of scripting into a basically static HTML page.


    Having used both, though, I honestly don't see what's easier or simpler
    about PHP's syntax. It comes with syntax for embedding logic inside
    presentation, granted, but any number of Perl modules do the same thing.

    What I *have* noticed is that it tends to have many partially overlapping
    functions that seem to differ mainly by whether you want to print the output
    automatically, return it for further processing, or both - and distinguished
    - From each other largely by putting the arguments in a random order. It's
    very typical to see:

    foo_do(bar, baz, qux)
    foo_execute(baz, qux)
    foo_exec(qux, bar, baz)
    foo_dothis(bar)

    Yet, somehow, people seem to think PHP is easier. I just don't understand.
    - --
    Kirk Strauser
    The Strauser Group
    Open. Solutions. Simple.
    http://www.strausergroup.com/
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    Kirk Strauser, Feb 9, 2004
    #4
  5. Dominic wrote:
    > As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
    > losing ground to another bunch of languages,


    Is it? Where did you get this idea from?

    > Is Perl just not "trendy" anymore?


    Thats correct, it is no longer trendy and hasn't been for years. Thats a
    good thing by the way, Perl is now a standard tool in the programmer's
    toolbox and not a passing fad. CASE anyone?

    > Does it still scare programmers who haven't used it?


    Again where did you get this idea, some facts would be nice.

    An important point that you are missing is that a lot of programmers who
    code in Perl are just that programmers who happen to code in Perl. They
    also code in a variety of languages (I use Ruby, Python and Tcl/Tk - I
    must get round to using Eiffel). A programming language is not a
    religion, except for the stupid, and a good programmer will learn and
    use other languages just for the hell of it.

    Thus the ranks of the Python and Ruby programmers are being swelled by
    Perl programmers. Very few programmers who use Perl are abstaining from
    Perl altogether. Sure there are some /religious/ types that use Java and
    swear off Perl as the spawn of satan but these people are nutters just
    like the people who swear that Perl is the one and only language.

    Imagine a carpenter who only used a mallet - not much of a carpenter?
    Why then should a programmer use only one language?
    Peter Hickman, Feb 9, 2004
    #5
  6. In article <23OVb.1$>,
    Dominic <> wrote:
    :As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
    :losing ground to another bunch of languages

    :Does it still scare programmers who haven't used it?

    It still scares programmers who *have* used it ;-)
    --
    Everyone has a "Good Cause" for which they are prepared to spam.
    -- Roberson's Law of the Internet
    Walter Roberson, Feb 9, 2004
    #6
  7. Dominic

    Andy Baxter Guest

    Kirk Strauser said:


    >> PHP

    >
    > Oh, Lord. I can't stand PHP. It seems like someone wanted "Perl Lite" for
    > web scripting, and when it caught on and people started demanding more
    > functionality, they just started randomly adding portions of almost-Perl
    > until it compiled without too many warnings. I can't think of one single
    > reason why anyone would use PHP over Perl, other than "my free web host made
    > it available", which is just a made decision made cyclic.


    I had a quick look at some PHP code a month or so ago, and some things
    about it seemed quite nice, like the way cgi variables are automatically
    turned into local variables in the script. Apart from that, I don't know,
    as I've not tried coding in it. I'm not sure that mixing code and content
    is the best way anyhow - the HTML::Template approach where the two are
    kept seperate is more to my taste. And having started writing my web app
    like this, it means someone with few coding skills could easily translate
    the whole site into another language, or change the layour or whatever,
    which is a bonus to this way of doing it.

    --
    http://www.niftybits.ukfsn.org/

    remove 'n-u-l-l' to email me. html mail or attachments will go in the spam
    bin unless notified with
    HTML:
     or [attachment] in the subject line.
    Andy Baxter, Feb 9, 2004
    #7
  8. Kirk Strauser () wrote:
    : =2D----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
    : Hash: SHA1

    : At 2004-02-09T17:07:32Z, Ben Morrow <> writes:

    : > PHP is great for what it was designed for: a simple way to put a small
    : > amount of scripting into a basically static HTML page.

    : Having used both, though, I honestly don't see what's easier or simpler
    : about PHP's syntax. It comes with syntax for embedding logic inside
    : presentation, granted, but any number of Perl modules do the same thing.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    That's at least half the problem. Unlike Java (JSP) or ASP (and what ever
    language it uses) or PHP, perl has no _standard_ way to create web pages
    in this sort of manner.

    Making decisions is a large part of any project.

    Working with PHP includes fewer decisions, therefore many people will find
    it easier to use.

    You see this in other situations. What is easier? Digging a ditch or
    planning the drainage in the first place. Digging the ditch is more grunt
    work (i.e. PHP) but it's obvious what to do and therefore it's easy for
    anyone to do the work. On the other hand, planning the drainage requires
    much less labour (i.e. Perl), but ultimately it's a harder job for many
    people because it involves making non-obvious decisions.
    Malcolm Dew-Jones, Feb 9, 2004
    #8
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    At 2004-02-09T19:22:28Z, Andy Baxter <-online.co.uk> writes:

    > I had a quick look at some PHP code a month or so ago, and some things
    > about it seemed quite nice, like the way cgi variables are automatically
    > turned into local variables in the script.


    Note that this was considered a horrible security bug to the point that it's
    no longer the default action.

    For example, imagine this code snippet in a little-used auxiliary directory
    in a widely-used bulletin board system:

    $sql = 'select * from foo'
    $result = mysql_query($sgl)

    In other words, the author made a typo when he wrote "$sgl" on the second
    line. A malicious party realizes the mistake and visits the page with the
    query string "?sgl=select * from usertable". His new "$sgl" variable is
    injected into the global namespace of the running script and the
    mysql_query() function executes his code instead of the intended line.

    Convenient, sure, but one of the more bone-headed language misfeatures I've
    seen.
    - --
    Kirk Strauser
    The Strauser Group
    Open. Solutions. Simple.
    http://www.strausergroup.com/
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    Kirk Strauser, Feb 9, 2004
    #9
  10. Kirk Strauser <> wrote:

    > At 2004-02-09T19:22:28Z, Andy Baxter
    > <-online.co.uk> writes:
    >
    >> I had a quick look at some PHP code a month or so ago, and some things
    >> about it seemed quite nice, like the way cgi variables are
    >> automatically turned into local variables in the script.

    >
    > Note that this was considered a horrible security bug to the point that
    > it's no longer the default action.

    [snip]

    > Convenient, sure, but one of the more bone-headed language misfeatures
    > I've seen.


    The SAS system (sas.com) does something similar. Someone in my first
    training class for SAS web programming used a macro variable that was the
    same as one of the form parameters. Instant bug and unexpected results.
    Even the instructor was puzzled, at least for a few hours.

    If you're offered a job using SAS to do web stuff for anything more
    complicated than a few predefined queries, run away screaming.

    (Side note: I took another SAS "web" class where the instructor
    consistently referred to CSS as "cascading spread sheets". By the end of
    the class I wanted to strangle her. (that wasn't the /only/ reason))

    --
    David Wall
    David K. Wall, Feb 9, 2004
    #10
  11. Dominic <> writes:

    > As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl
    > is losing ground to another bunch of languages, namely: Python, PHP
    > and Ruby. I'd like to hear your opinions. Is Perl just not "trendy"
    > anymore? Does it still scare programmers who haven't used it? Or do
    > the other languages have any major advantages over Perl? I haven't
    > worked in these other languages, so I'm not qualified to have much of
    > an opinion here. What do you think?


    PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Photos: <dd-b.lighthunters.net> Snapshots: <www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Feb 9, 2004
    #11
  12. Dominic

    Guest

    (Malcolm Dew-Jones) writes:

    > Kirk Strauser () wrote:
    > : =2D----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
    > : Hash: SHA1
    >
    > : At 2004-02-09T17:07:32Z, Ben Morrow <> writes:
    >
    > : > PHP is great for what it was designed for: a simple way to put a small
    > : > amount of scripting into a basically static HTML page.
    >
    > : Having used both, though, I honestly don't see what's easier or simpler
    > : about PHP's syntax. It comes with syntax for embedding logic inside
    > : presentation, granted, but any number of Perl modules do the same thing.
    > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    >
    > That's at least half the problem. Unlike Java (JSP) or ASP (and what ever
    > language it uses) or PHP, perl has no _standard_ way to create web pages
    > in this sort of manner.
    >
    > Making decisions is a large part of any project.
    >
    > Working with PHP includes fewer decisions, therefore many people will find
    > it easier to use.
    >
    > You see this in other situations. What is easier? Digging a ditch or
    > planning the drainage in the first place. Digging the ditch is more grunt
    > work (i.e. PHP) but it's obvious what to do and therefore it's easy for
    > anyone to do the work. On the other hand, planning the drainage requires
    > much less labour (i.e. Perl), but ultimately it's a harder job for many
    > people because it involves making non-obvious decisions.



    Best argument I have heard yet.

    I am not 'up' on PHP at all but I've just bought a book on PHP and web
    development and delved into parts of the first chapter.

    To me, PHP looks like a scripting version of Perl in the same way ASP
    is a scripting version of VB. This is obvioulsy a huge generalisation
    and I'll freely admit, would probably hold less water than a colander
    if put seriously to the test.

    Lesley

    ---

    email is munged: please reply to group
    , Feb 9, 2004
    #12
  13. Dominic

    Ben Morrow Guest

    wrote:
    > To me, PHP looks like a scripting version of Perl in the same way ASP
    > is a scripting version of VB.


    Err... no. Perl is the scripting version of Perl. PHP is in no way
    related, and some of the language concepts are quite different (no
    distinction between arrays/hashes, no closures, no refs, no
    namespacing, no anything that makes Perl what is is... :).

    About the only similarites are that both have a 'scalar' variable type
    that will autoconvert int<->float<->string and both signify these with
    an initial '$' on the variable name.

    > This is obvioulsy a huge generalisation and I'll freely admit, would
    > probably hold less water than a colander if put seriously to the
    > test.


    Yup!

    Ben

    --
    If you put all the prophets, | You'd have so much more reason
    Mystics and saints | Than ever was born
    In one room together, | Out of all of the conflicts of time.
    |----------------+---------------| The Levellers, 'Believers'
    Ben Morrow, Feb 9, 2004
    #13
  14. Dominic

    Robert Guest

    David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
    <snip>
    > PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    > environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    > doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    > hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.


    mod_php out-performs mod_perl? Really? Show me the tests...
    Robert, Feb 9, 2004
    #14
  15. Dominic

    Ben Morrow Guest

    Robert <> wrote:
    > David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
    > <snip>
    > > PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    > > environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    > > doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    > > hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.

    >
    > mod_php out-performs mod_perl? Really? Show me the tests...


    No, he said mod_php outperforms CGI Perl (duh) and that he doesn't
    trust mod_perl.

    Ben

    --
    For the last month, a large number of PSNs in the Arpa[Inter-]net have been
    reporting symptoms of congestion ... These reports have been accompanied by an
    increasing number of user complaints ... As of June,... the Arpanet contained
    47 nodes and 63 links. [ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/arpaprob.txt] *
    Ben Morrow, Feb 10, 2004
    #15
  16. Dominic

    Tore Aursand Guest

    On Mon, 09 Feb 2004 16:32:59 -0600, David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
    >> As a programmer who is addicted to Perl, I am curious as to why Perl is
    >> losing ground to another bunch of languages, namely: Python, PHP and
    >> Ruby. I'd like to hear your opinions. Is Perl just not "trendy"
    >> anymore? Does it still scare programmers who haven't used it? Or do the
    >> other languages have any major advantages over Perl? I haven't worked
    >> in these other languages, so I'm not qualified to have much of an
    >> opinion here. What do you think?


    > PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    > environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    > doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    > hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.


    Well. What you _actually_ is trying to say, is that:

    a) mod_php is faster than CGI
    b) You don't trust mod_perl

    Now. Do _you_ see how smart your statement was? :)


    --
    Tore Aursand <>
    "Scientists are complaining that the new "Dinosaur" movie shows
    dinosaurs with lemurs, who didn't evolve for another million years.
    They're afraid the movie will give kids a mistaken impression. What
    about the fact that the dinosaurs are singing and dancing?" -- Jay
    Leno
    Tore Aursand, Feb 10, 2004
    #16
  17. Robert <> writes:

    > David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
    > <snip>
    >> PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    >> environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    >> doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    >> hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.

    >
    > mod_php out-performs mod_perl? Really? Show me the tests...


    mod_php is usable in a shard hosting environment. mod_perl
    essentially is not; at least that seems to be the consensus of most of
    the places selling shared hosting, and reading about it, it does seem
    that you don't have adequate isolation between virtual users in
    mod_perl.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Photos: <dd-b.lighthunters.net> Snapshots: <www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Feb 10, 2004
    #17
  18. Ben Morrow <> writes:

    > Robert <> wrote:
    >> David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
    >> <snip>
    >> > PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    >> > environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    >> > doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    >> > hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.

    >>
    >> mod_php out-performs mod_perl? Really? Show me the tests...

    >
    > No, he said mod_php outperforms CGI Perl (duh) and that he doesn't
    > trust mod_perl.


    Well, mostly. I trust mod_perl just fine, so long as I'm the only
    user.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Photos: <dd-b.lighthunters.net> Snapshots: <www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Feb 10, 2004
    #18
  19. Tore Aursand wrote:
    > On Mon, 09 Feb 2004 16:32:59 -0600, David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
    >>PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    >>environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    >>doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    >>hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.

    >
    >
    > Well. What you _actually_ is trying to say, is that:
    >
    > a) mod_php is faster than CGI


    No he did not. Read it again and look for the string CGI. It's not there
    is it - you made that bit up.

    > b) You don't trust mod_perl


    Again read what he has said, the 'in a shared hosting environment' is a
    caveat on the use of mod_perl. Not a declaration that he does not trust
    mod_perl.

    > Now. Do _you_ see how smart your statement was? :)


    How about yours?
    Peter Hickman, Feb 10, 2004
    #19
  20. Dominic

    Ben Morrow Guest

    Peter Hickman <> wrote:
    > Tore Aursand wrote:
    > > On Mon, 09 Feb 2004 16:32:59 -0600, David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
    > >>PHP out-performs Perl by a tremendous margin in a shared hosting
    > >>environment, which is where most sites are implemented. mod_perl
    > >>doesn't isolate the various users enough to be very safe in a shared
    > >>hosting environment, and you need mod_perl to get performance.

    > >
    > > Well. What you _actually_ is trying to say, is that:
    > >
    > > a) mod_php is faster than CGI

    >
    > No he did not. Read it again and look for the string CGI. It's not there
    > is it - you made that bit up.
    >
    > > b) You don't trust mod_perl

    >
    > Again read what he has said, the 'in a shared hosting environment' is a
    > caveat on the use of mod_perl. Not a declaration that he does not trust
    > mod_perl.
    >
    > > Now. Do _you_ see how smart your statement was? :)

    >
    > How about yours?


    'PHP out-performs Perl ... in a shared hosting environment'

    We are only talking about shared hosting.

    'you need mod_perl to get performance'

    Hence, since he hasn't 'got performance', he is using CGI perl.

    Try applying a small amount of logic when reading: it tends to help.

    Ben

    --
    If I were a butterfly I'd live for a day, / I would be free, just blowing away.
    This cruel country has driven me down / Teased me and lied, teased me and lied.
    I've only sad stories to tell to this town: / My dreams have withered and died.
    <=>=<=>=<=>=<=>=<=>=<=>=<=>=<=>=<=>=<=>=<=> (Kate Rusby)
    Ben Morrow, Feb 10, 2004
    #20
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