Perl in the workplace

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At lunch Wednesday, I took a computer book to read. A stranger asked
me about the book and we struck up a conversation. We conversation was
about technologies used in the workplace (she has an IT job) and the
conversation got around to Perl.

She told me about a job she had previously, where she was told when
she reported to work that one of the other workers had written a
number of Perl scripts, and that she had help run and maintain them.
This was apparently a case where the worker had automated processes
and the employer found them useful enough to keep around.

I told her about my experience -- my job involves reading and writing
data to/from a large institutional database and creating various kinds
of reports. When I started, it was all done by hand, reports were
usually done with MS Office, primarily Excel. I started automating the
big, daily tasks that were critical but also error prone, and now
(five years later) have automated almost all our routine tasks using
Perl. This was a 'bottom up' effort, as none of my upstream knows

That got me to wondering. How much of Perl usage is bottom up, rather
than top down? The large businesses in my area pick a technology
(.NET, Java, C++, Struts, Rails, etc.) and require everyone to use
that technology. The people locally that I know who use Perl use it
for individual projects, without official approval or even knowledge.

Is this typical? Or do some significant number of companies make a
deliberate decision to use Perl and impose it in a top down fashion?
Are there any instances of companies having a significant Perl base
and converting it into another technology because of the perceived
unsuitability of Perl?


Re: Perl in the workplace

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Yes, Perl is much better at getting work done than in satisfying
the needs of people in blue-sky meetings.


Re: Perl in the workplace

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Most of it.

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That happens too, but it is rare.

I expect that even those are the result of someone using Perl as
you describe above (and then getting promoted to a policy-making

Those are the companies I try to find when I need a contract :-)

Tad McClellan
email: perl -le "print scalar reverse qq/moc.liamg0cm.j.dat/"
The above message is a Usenet post.
I don't recall having given anyone permission to use it on a Web site.

Re: Perl in the workplace

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I have an idea that most Perl programmers says

  - Chose the right tool for the job, which happens to be Perl.

Where some other language advocates says

  - Chose Java, which happens to be the right tool for the job.

For a given project the difference isn't clear. Both the Perl
programmer and the Java programmer will chose his previously prefered
language. But in the long term I think that the difference is that
advocates of these other languages is more likeliy to push for their
language to become company wide standard.

But then again - all generalizations suck.


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