Perl isn't going anywhere -- for better or worse

Tons of tools and projects still make use of Perl, but PHP, Python, and Ruby have stolen its programming thunder

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Of course, not all of these languages compete with one another. Bash and Objective-C have very little in common, for instance -- not unlike the fact that a hammer and a saw are both tools but used for vastly different purposes. However, Bash is definitely an alternative to Perl for many smaller and low-level projects. File and process manipulation, small task scheduling and automation, installation scripts, and such can be developed in either language, but it seems that people are opting for the simplicity and portability of Bash rather than Perl in these cases.

Python, Ruby, and PHP are also used as Perl alternatives in many ways. While PHP is generally focused on Web application development, it can be used for many tasks that fall into Perl's purview. Python and Ruby are more general languages, but seem to be increasingly used instead of Perl. Certainly, each of those languages was highly influenced by Perl.

Perl isn't going anywhere. A massive number of tools and projects still make the most out of the language. But it's hard to see Perl regaining its former glory without a dramatic turnaround in the near term. As more time goes by, Perl will likely continue to decline in popularity and cement its growing status as a somewhat arcane and archaic language, especially as compared to newer, more lithe options.

Perhaps that's OK. Perl has been an instrumental part of the innovation and technological advancements of the last two decades, and it's served as a catalyst for a significant number of other languages that have contributed heavily to the programming world in general. That's quite a legacy in anyone's terms.

I don't think it's wise to write Perl's epitaph just yet, but all signs point to the conclusion that its best days are in the past.

This story, "Perl isn't going anywhere -- for better or worse," was originally published at Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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