David Farrell presenting "Perl & Me"

2015-08-31 16:05:51 admin News Guest blog posts 0 Comments

I started programming in Perl out of a need - I wanted to download financial futures data and automatically email buy and sell alerts to myself. I was a CompSci graduate who could tell you how a CPU worked but I had no idea how to code this application. As it happened, I had a copy of "Learning Perl" on my bookshelf from a University class on text processing. I worked through the chapters of the book and with the help of CPAN, scripted something that worked.

There began my adventures with Perl. Later I got into sports betting and used Perl to analyze probabilities and place bets on betfair. I learned how to make modules and later published WWW::betfair. Coding and especially exchanging code with others became my obsession. I became better with other languages too, but Perl was in my head. Perl started showing up at work and making appearances at parties. Amongst my friends and colleagues I became known as the "Perl guy" and the go-to person for fixing tough tech problems.

In 2012 I started PerlTricks.com and by that time I'd made an important discovery: programming in Perl was far more interesting to me than making money. Regularly writing about Perl forced me to introspect and study source code and documentation. If was going to write about the split function say, did I really understand all the ways that split() worked? I exchanged emails with the authors of modules and interviewed Perl programmers for articles. I found friendly, interesting people and made new friends.

Everyday my proficiency with Perl was improving. I left my big-time consulting job to work as an independent Perl consultant. My night-time obsession became my full-time job. Working alongside other Perl developers, I learned new techniques for handling Perl when it was moody and unpredictable. I experienced the excitement of deleting code, the pleasure of crafting beautiful, idiomatic solutions, and the disappointment of seeing them crack under real-World pressures. Sometimes simple and ugly code worked better. I adjusted.

As Perl flourishes I know now that we're part of something bigger than just a job, a programming language or a group of people. We're part of history. I can't wait to see what's built in Perl next.

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