Can dynamic languages scale?


Ted Neward has written an article on the problems of scaling up projects based on dynamic languages:

While a dynamic language will usually take some kind of performance and memory hit when running on top of VMs that were designed for statically-typed languages, work on the DLR and the MLVM, as well as enhancements to the underlying platform that will be more beneficial to these dynamic language scenarios, will reduce that. Parrot may change that in time, but right now it sits at a 0.5 release and doesn't seem to be making huge inroads into reaching a 1.0 release that will be attractive to anyone outside of the "bleeding-edge" crowd.

Alas, he has to end with "Perl just sucks, period." Even as we work forward with Parrot and Perl 6, the continued public perception of Perl doesn't change. :-(



Alas, he has to end with "Perl just sucks, period."

Not true!

He ends that article with a smiley — yes, a smiley! — which you egregiously and deceptively failed to quote. :-)

Not to mention that his article also began by lamenting discussions turning "into a 'You suck'/'No you suck' flamefest".

So his ending is very likely just intended as a jest. (And even if not, so what?) So, jeez, just cut this guy some slack already. It's not the end of the world. Really! :-)


Even as we work forward with Parrot and Perl 6, the continued public perception of Perl doesn't change. :-(

Are you kidding?!

(Kinda like the very people that coincidentally give rise to it) public perception of Perl is all over the map, under the map, and off the map — and public perception is always relentlessly shifting piecemeal too and fro, ebbing and receding, subdividing and coalescing, sometime quickly and sometimes barely perceptibly. In the article's paragraph that you quoted, at least the "Parrot may change that" comment is a big improvement over "Perl 6 will never see the light of day".

Take a look at Audry Tang's timeline at the link below. Do you see the 2004-2006 "Valley of Dispair"? Guess what? This is 2008. So it's over! That's recent ancient history now. You're just suffering from PTSD. Perl 6 is gonna pull through.

By the way, do you ever see Larry Wall carrying a big public relations chip on his shoulder and whining that everyone doesn't love Perl? :-(  :-(  :-(

Hell no! Of course not! :-)

So why not follow Larry Wall's exemplary example? Take a look at our venerable Laughing Master Larry Wall's many talks (which I've recently linked to and excerpted) here:

in the Official Perl 6 Wiki:

If you really believed that Perl 6 is super-awesome and is in fact well-along in the development process, you would almost certainly also realize that Perl 6 will semi-inevitably overcome the prevailing range of public perceptions on its own merits, in due course, some reasonable time after it hits the streets. And you would therefore almost certainly be semi-exclusively focused on getting Perl 6 finished sooner, rather than fretting about and overreacting to practically irrelevant stuff.

Your primary audience is presumably overwhelmingly the Perl faithful as it were, so how does obsessing about the contrary opinions of others serve their interests? How does that advance the work on Perl 6? Unless you are willing and able to provide a Paul Graham or Joel Spolsky level of insightful, thought-provoking, and educational analysis, what's the point?

Every time you make an issue of someone's less-than-favorable opinion on Perl, you are wasting valuable time, attention, and other resources (both yours and your readers') that could have been devoted to something more productive that would make Perl 6 happen sooner. Which is a big mistake that I'm obviously now also in great danger of making here. :-)

By the way, in case you haven't noticed, Perl 6 hasn't reached the stage where a major fraction of Perl 5's development team has switched to working on Perl 6. If the prevailing majority of strong Perl insiders haven't yet changed horses and bandwagons as it were, perhaps you should be taking them to task instead of picking on friendly-but-moderately-skeptical authors. Or maybe not. Or maybe so — if you can't even convert most of the Perl hardcore to the Perl 6 cause, how dare you berate the opinions of outsiders? In any case, that's still a good thought experiment about keeping things, priorities, and contexts in perspective.

But now you've got me wondering what it would take to entice such an internal Perl 5 to Perl 6 changeover of core developers.... By the way, just how seriously committed are you to boosting Perl 6 development? (Especially in a way that would also most certainly galvanize the sort of public perception that you are obsessed with?) Do you really believe in the tremendous power of Perl 6 to productively revolutionize the world of computing, and the exceptionally great importance of the benefits of this for the world at large? Then nothing would say that "Perl 6/Parrot (Rakudo) is going to be here soon, we are fully committed to it, and it's going to be big" quite like an announcement that "the Perl 5.10.n series is going to be the end of the line for (non-Parrot versions of) Perl 5". :-)

I think you read far too much into my comment of

Alas, he has to end with "Perl just sucks, period." Even as we work forward with Parrot and Perl 6, the continued public perception of Perl doesn't change.

All I did was note his comment at the tail end of an article pointing out his positive view of the future of Parrot. I think you're confusing me with many others who have seemed to be very upset with his comments. In fact, I have a follow-up in the works saying roughly what you've said above.

No, I'm not confusing you with anyone else. I was specifically responding to your comments, and to what you actually wrote.

I think you're confusing what you wrote (and the context thereof) with whatever else you might have been thinking at the time. Hence the need for your subsequent follow-up article. :-)

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