Perl came to be 28 years ago, through the grace of Larry Wall. That was the beginning, that was the start of it all. The next versions of Perl succeeded each other rapidly, Perl 2 came in 1988, Perl 3 in 1989 and Perl 4 in 1991. Between 3 and 4 there weren't many changes but the language got a groundwork book, Programming Perl so the version was updated. Perl 4 went through a few changes until 1993 when Larry tossed it out and began anew with Perl 5, which was released in 1994.
This is not a history lesson, this is a story about the journey so far. A 28 year journey, with ups and down, wins and losses.
With Perl 5 the language went into a different phase, a coming of Age of Perl. The beginning, its youth took about 7 years. Perl become very popular and a few years went by, the ‘90s went on and so did Perl. Perl 5 kept growing, being more mature, getting updates and in 2000 the idea of Perl 6 came to be. A new phase, a new stage. Not an update, but a different language than Perl 5. It’s been in the works ever since, for 16 years with various developments, the latest being Rakudo Star.
But it wasn’t all up and up, actually, Perl began a slow downward spiral after the mid ‘00s because of the rising popularity of Java, Python. PHP and other languages. In the last couple of years it’s been stabilising and slowly catching up on the charts. It’s far from where it was in ‘05 but it’s going in a good direction, an ascending one. And the title of this article comes in mind, Perl, where to?
Our website is a testimony of the strength and influence that Perl (still) has, that still hurts a bit, but it’s meant to be honest. You can see that plenty of companies and startups are using Perl, that Perl developers are in demand, a recent article placed a Perl developer salary at around 80.000$. Perl is doing good right now, but, again, where to, from here?
Technology is ever changing, the way we code changes and it seems like new languages sprout out of nowhere, you never know what the next big thing will be. Perl 6 is the new hope, a new language, but it’s been in development for a long time and it will continue to be in development for quite some time. How will Perl reach Python or challenge Java? Is it destined to be a niche language, a retro way of coding? How will Perl reach the new generation of coders to carry on and move forward?
There are so many questions here, but this article is not meant to answer them, this article is a question, Perl, where to next?Tweet