Will Perl 6 become ubiquitous and mandatory?
February 15, 2006 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Will Perl 6 become mandatory? I know Perl 5 pretty well, and I'd like to keep listing Perl on my resume. I wonder if employers who value Perl skills will start to expect Perl 6 to be listed.

The glimpses I've seen of it give me a big old headache when I think about trying to get used to all the differences. Isn't Perl's ubiquity one of the main reasons for its continued popularity? Wouldn't that mean Perl 5 continues to be popular, and Perl 6 faces an uphill battle like Ruby does?
posted by pornucopia to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Is Perl the only programming language you can list on your resume?

If you can list 5 or 6 languages, your familiarity with a given version of perl won't really matter until such a time as Perl 5 becomes "obsolete", which I doubt is any time soon.

The key is being able to list several languages - which implies that you can pick new ones up. Equally if not more helpful is a good college background in computer science, especially from a school known for theory rather than "[language] programming classes".
posted by twiggy at 8:15 AM on February 15, 2006

Without a crystal ball, it's hard to say what employers will be interested in in the future. But I can give you a data point from the past.

When perl went from perl 4.xx to perl 5.xx, it was not uncommon to see both running side by side in production environments. There were a lot of reasons for this, including the availability of modules/libraries, and the general not-quite-trustworthiness of a .0 release.

Where I worked at the time, perl 4 skills were in demand for years, though all of the perl 4 coders were becoming more familiar with perl 5. By the time perl 4 skills became unmarketable, virtually every perl hacker had ported their brain to perl 5.

So, in short, if you're a competent professional perl hacker, your perl 5 skills will most likely be useful for some time after perl 6 is fully released. But over time, you'll end up learning perl 6, or moving to another language.
posted by toxic at 8:25 AM on February 15, 2006

Perl 6 is not going to be out for a while, and even when it is usable it will be big and different and scary. Lots of businesses will be scared of it for a long time. I don't expect that many places will start expecting you to know Perl 6 instead of Perl 5 until at least 2010 (and that's assuming Perl 6 catches on at all).
posted by dfan at 8:43 AM on February 15, 2006

I wouldn't get too worked up about Perl 6. It's not even "out" yet (i.e., the spec hasn't been finalized, AFAIK). I agree with twiggy that what's more important is having the higher level competencies of software engineering, regardless of what language you use.

To answer your question directly, no, Perl 6 will not become mandatory, nor ubiquitous in the near future. It's tough to say how it will play out, since it Perl 6 is not natively backwards-compatible with Perl 5. I highly doubt companies will deploy Perl 6 in production environments any time soon (because it's not complete yet, as I mentioned before).
posted by ding3r at 8:46 AM on February 15, 2006

Given that we can't yet state with any real certainty whether Perl 6 will even actually exist, it's way beyond anyone's prediction skills to say whether it will become mandatory.

I love Perl, but I'm putting effort into my Python and Ruby expertise, and none at all into Perl 6. I'll cross that road when I come to it.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:07 AM on February 15, 2006

The problem now is that there are actually multiple versions of what Perl 6 is. Consider that an implementation of Perl 6 already exists.

I think Perl has seriously dropped the ball over the last few years with the glacial pace of development on Perl 6. Languages like Ruby and Python are moving forward at a much better pace and are already getting industry acceptance (Python more so at the back/systems end, and Ruby more so at the front end). I don't really think what Perl 6 brings to the table is going to make it a compelling choice against the Rubys and Pythons of the time, whenever that is.

.. and Perl 6 faces an uphill battle like Ruby does?

You are joking, right? Ruby usage and growth has exploded in the last two years, and is even being seen as a major threat to Python growth.
posted by wackybrit at 9:32 AM on February 15, 2006

At the current rate of development, there will never be a Perl 6. All the Perl developers will have been sucked into the Ruby on Rails vortex by the time there is any significant finishitude on Perl 6, and it will join lisp as a "fringe" language for development (by "fringe" I mean that a very small minority of commercial development projects will use the language, and the ("fringoid") adherents of that language will flame me senseless for using the term "fringe")
posted by jimfl at 9:34 AM on February 15, 2006

Response by poster: You are joking, right? Ruby usage and growth has exploded in the last two years, and is even being seen as a major threat to Python growth.

No, I'm not joking. Machines I generally log onto have Perl 5. I don't think I've ever seen a work-related machine that had Ruby unless maybe someone had installed it in their personal directory. I'm sure it's growing like gangbusters and all, and maybe someday it will be ubiquitous, but you must be joking if you mean to compare Ruby's commonness with the ubiquity of Perl 5.

It's probably a different story in groups full of hackers that love to try out all the cool new languages, but I work in a group where we occasionally use these languages to whip up some convenient tools.
posted by pornucopia at 9:42 AM on February 15, 2006

pornucopia - what you've missed about rails is that it also lets you whip up some convenient tools. Except they're also full blown MVC web applications.
posted by Caviar at 3:30 PM on February 15, 2006

And what you've missed is that what he said was that where Ruby is popular, perl is ubiquitous.
posted by The Monkey at 10:53 PM on February 15, 2006

For now. Perl is there because someone put it there.
posted by Caviar at 8:35 AM on February 17, 2006

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