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Is this the death of Perl?

Sensationalist title I know but I work, at least for the minute, for a newspaper company that’s just been bought out. Now I’m fairly sure that our new corporate overlords will have no requirement for two web development departments. Meaning at least one of us is for the chop and they are the larger company buying the smaller one, so centralising to their own resources seems likely to be the way they’ll go.

We have a strong development team here, with a great work ethic, who all love working with modern (enlightened) Perl. However only a cursory look at the Jobs market around our location shows us that there aren’t very many openings for experienced Perl developers. Sure there are some around London, but outside of the big bad city there seems to be very few and for most of us relocating simply isn’t an option due to family commitments.

So being that we’re all competent developers switching to a different language isn’t a massive issue to us from a technical point of view but we’ve given some of the best years of our lives to Perl and the community surrounding it. Abandoning it, even only on a professional level, seems like it’s almost more gut-wrenching than the likely ensuing redundancies.

So is this the death of Perl for me/us? Perhaps and it’s gutting.

6 comments

1 john napiorkowski { 02.10.10 at 7:56 pm }

Hey,

I feel your pain. Was working in 2008 at a similar company, strong Perl, great team with good process and work ethic, etc. Got bought out by a Java shop beginning of 2009 and have 10 months of hearing about how Perl was a problem, etc. I don’t know what will happen to you but I’ve been on both sides of the buyout dance a few times and my experience is that the establish team always wins. They may want to keep you around to run the tech for a while but if you get support and good cooperation that would surprise me.

2 Kiffin { 02.10.10 at 8:54 pm }

Tough break. If worse comes to worse, you can keep active in the Perl community working on fun stuff. But who knows, it could very well be that Perl is making a grand come back, what with Moose and Catalyst and all those really great ideas.

3 Gabor Szabo { 02.11.10 at 7:14 am }

Find the key tech figure in the company and start inviting him/her to beer showing how much more power (real power) will s/he have if they all switch to Perl.

4 Graeme { 02.11.10 at 9:36 am }

Thanks for all the comments. I’m sure I must be able to find (or manufacture with beer) a Perl job somewhere!

It’s like a mistress you simply can’t leave!

5 Rob { 02.11.10 at 12:10 pm }

As someone in a similar situation I’m trying to stay objective about things. To some extent it’s an occupational hazard of being a computer programmer, languages come in and out of fashion. Of course it’s particularly frustrating for Perl developers since Perl has an image problem based on how it used to be coded 15 years ago. I’m sure that will change in the long term, it’s still widely used and has a very productive user community.

I honestly find it more annoying that in the UK this industry still revolves around London. It’s not just a Perl problem, unless you’re a .Net or PHP developer the opportunities available in any other UK city are really pretty limited. It’s annoying to see that there aren’t more employers who are open to things like telecommuting, or who are willing to risk setting up shop north or Watford.

6 social news pirate { 03.17.10 at 12:16 pm }

lol, yeah init this is why im running off to america for a year! im just hoping converting http://thisaintnews.com from php to catalyst wont be long term career suicide, meh, even if it is it easier to maintain :D

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