Carrying on the heels of our previous article that explored the topic of Perl in Japan, we now move towards South America, more exactly, Brazil. To find out more about how Perl is used in Brazil and the community there, we had a talk with garu. For most of you, his name,
Breno G. de Oliveira or garu, is certainly familiar, but for those of you who might not know him, here’s a brief bio. Garu has been a community organizer for the Brazil Perl Mongers since 2008, a central figure in the YAPC::Brasil conferences and a also prolific perl programmer since 2003. He is a White Camel recipient, of the 2012 edition. You can follow him here on Twitter and github.
BIP: How did you get started on Perl? Was it love at first line of code?
Garu: The first time I ever knowingly touched Perl code was patching an X-Chat plugin for a friend in my mid-late teens. Maybe I got lucky, but I remember it being very easy to understand and debug. Years later, I was in college and really into Information Security, and back in the early 2000's Perl was *the* language to learn in that field. So I did! The thing is, Perl was so interesting and addictive and opened up so many other possibilities for me, I just never let it go.
BIP: How did you become a part of the Perl community in Brazil?
Garu: My first "serious" project in Perl was an Intrusion Detection System. I gave a talk about it on a big free software conference in the country and saw there was a Perl community booth there, so I went ahead and introduced myself. Everybody was so nice and welcoming, and I got to know all the cool stuff going on not just in Brazil but in the entire world. It felt like a new world was opening up for me!
BIP: What can you say about the YAPC: Brazil conferences. How did that idea come up?
Garu: It all started before my time. As a developing economy that's pretty far away geographically from the US and Europe, it's hard for brazilians (or south americans, for that matter) to attend events in those areas. English is also a big barrier as not many brazilians are fluent in it, even in the tech industry. So we decided to create our own YAPC, to get together, share ideas, and grow our community.
BIP: As the last conference was in 2015, do you think there would be more in the future?
Garu: Oh, absolutely! The past couple of years have been crazy, though not in a good way. Many local Perl developers are startup owners, and Brazil's recent political and economic crisis forced them to focus on their own companies leaving little time for volunteer work - especially one as demanding as organizing a YAPC. During that same period, some key people in our community got jobs abroad and had to move away, which was great for them but also left a gap. Still, things are calming down and the community is renewing itself, so hopefully we'll get a new conference pretty soon.
BIP: Why do you think Perl become popular in Brazil?
Garu: Brazil had a telecom and Internet boom in the early 2000s, and Perl played an important role in it. A lot of the infrastructure required it, as did several big ecommerces and dynamic websites. Also, the brazilian Perl community was deeply involved with the open source movement in the country in general, so I guess this helped. Which is not to say the language is super popular here, but I think being actively involved in many different FLOSS events and communities was important in putting and keeping us on the map.
BIP: How many Perl developers would you say are in Brazil? (or how many do you know in the community)
Garu: I can't say for sure, we only know the ones our community is able to reach. We do have several hundred people subscribed to our mailing lists and attending events, and we know that's only a small fraction of the actual people writing Perl out there.
BIP: Do new developers join the Perl community often? What’s the level of interest in Perl for the straight outta college generation?
BIP: Can you mention some of the major companies focusing on Perl right now in Brazil?
Garu: I'm not sure about focusing - many companies here are language agnostic and use whatever works for them. Most telecoms' systems/infrastructure still heavily rely on Perl. Other big players depending on Perl code include Terra, UOL, Ponto Frio and Estante Virtual. My own startup (Colab55) is mostly written in Perl, but we're not that big. Yet.
BIP: What’s the level of interest for Perl 6 in the Brazil Perl community?
Garu: Quite a lot, actually! We are super excited at the current stage of Perl 6 and what we can achieve with it today. So much so that we have even seen brazilians get into our local Perl community *through* Perl 6, instead of the other way around.