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The A-Z of Programming Languages: Perl

Culture and community go hand-in-hand with Perl programming

Perl creator Larry Wall

Perl creator Larry Wall

In your opinion, what lasting legacy has Perl brought to computer development?

An increased awareness of the interplay between technology and culture. Ruby has borrowed a few ideas from Perl and so has PHP. I don't think PHP understands the use of signals, but all languages borrow from other languages, otherwise they risk being single-purpose languages. Competition is good.

It's interesting to see PHP follow along with the same mistakes Perl made over time and recover from them. But Perl 6 also borrows back from other languages too, like Ruby. My ego may be big, but it's not that big.

Where do you envisage Perl's future lying?

My vision of Perl's future is that I hope I don't recognise it in 20 years.

Where do you see computer programming languages heading in the future, particularly in the next 5 to 20 years?

Don't design everything you will need in the next 100 years, but design the ability to create things we will need in 20 or 100 years. The heart of the Perl 6 effort is the extensibility we have built into the parser and introduced language changes as non-destructively as possible.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming programmers?

We get Google Summer of Code people and various students are interested in the Perl 6 effort. We try to find a place for them to feel useful and we can always use people to write more tests.

In the future a lot of people will be getting into programming as a profession, but not calling it programming. They will call it writing spreadsheets or customising actions for their avatars. For many people it will be a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

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