Hooray for the circling pundit vultures


SD Times columnist Andrew Binstock has come out with another poorly informed column that says nothing more than "Perl hasn't updated in years, and therefore is irrelevant."

Let's look at his errors and FUD:

  • Not recognizing Perl 5.6, 5.8 and 5.10 as "major releases"
  • "Perl’s penchant for near-hieroglyphic syntax."
  • Quoting TIOBE as a meaningful indicator of anything.
  • "Perl 6 release is still a long way off" -- Can you tell us when it will be, Mr. Binstock?
  • "still five years later, we’re years away." -- Apparently, he thinks he can, and he's wrong.
  • "Perl has only the original Perl implementation plus an experimental version in Haskell under development."

So, although I wish he wouldn't have written such an error-filled column, I'm still glad he did. Why? Because he's showing that Perl is anything but irrelevant or doomed.

If Perl were truly doomed, and Perl 6 were never going to come out, then why would he bother writing a column about it? Why not write a column about how nobody uses COBOL or Forth? That Perl and the future of Perl is a topic for publication just shows that Perl is anything but dead.

For more about the bright future of Perl, including Perl 5, see Piers Cawley's excellent article "The Perl Future"

I see an active Perl 5 community, working on and with, excellent tools on CPAN... I see Perl 6 and Parrot hitting their targets. This isn't crystal ball gazing. This is what's happening now.... Perl isn't moribund. 2009 won't be a make or break year - I doubt we'll see fireworks, but I think that developments like Perl-On-A-Stick and Moose will continue to make life easier for curious newcomers, old hands and even returnees like me.


Way to nip the FUD in the bud. Crawley's article is very well written -- perhaps Mr. Binstock should give it a read.

Lately, though, I've been seeing FUD being dispersed from within the Perl community to fellow developers through comments on the P5P mailing list. One example in particular that I mentioned on my blog:

But I’d be scared of making it in any stable release as I would be surprise if someone somewhere isn’t matching on it, and ignoring the current term.

The Perl community owes it to itself to avoid making the sort of general, uninformed statements similar to Binstock's -- they only add to the perception that Perl is not advancing.

More outright errors:

  • "Much of Perl’s original popularity was its clear superiority to CGI for gluing together Web functionality. The fact that it could be used for application development was a secondary aspect…"

    Binstock seems to believe that Perl and CGI are mutually exclusive, and that CGI and "gluing together Web functionality" have nothing to do with "application development." Later he reiterates that "Perl was competing with CGI." All wrong.

  • "As Python emerged, it was clear even in its early years that it offered a superset of Perl’s functionality…"

    A "superset" implies that Python, "in its early years", included all of Perl's functionality plus more. While the intersection of Perl & Python functionalities has always been large, both Perl - Python and Python - Perl have always been non-empty. Given the unmatched richness of CPAN, it's especially foolish to err in defining Python's functionality to be a superset.

Mr Binstock does not know who he is messing with - time to teach him about the Undead Perl! Where can we get his brain?

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