I need to update myself from time to time; web sites, magazine, books, delegates, technical friends and customer requests are all part of the equation; the final part is attending the - occasional and strategically chosen - high level conference or teaching session given by the specialists - the people who each know one specific technology inside out, usually to the exclusion of appropriate alternatives. And so it was I found myself yesterday at Dave Cross's London Perl Mongers teach-in, hosted by the BBC in White City. Dave styled the day as "turning Intermediate programmers into advanced ones" and notes (correctly) that it was a very tall target for six hours which included a lunch and two other breaks.
Dave DID teach me one or two (OK - let's be fair - one or two dozen) things during the day. But also gave me, as a long time Perl user and tutor, an insight as to where and how the use of the language has developed and is going. What did I notice and pick up "Management overview" mode.
• There was no - not a bit - of teaching of the Perl LANGUAGE as such; the majority - the vast majority - of the time was spent on covering modules, modules on the CPAN, and CPAN facilities. And the other - minority but significance of time - was spent looking at quality (or should I say Kwalitee, Dave?) of code / modules, and techniques, technologies and buzzwords in OO design, configuration file use, and the like.
• All day, there was only a single brief reference to Perl 6 - and that was Dave's comment that he really hasn't looked at anything Perl 6 in a while. There were more references - far more references - to Rails and Ruby which I think he views as an upcoming and perhaps significant force. And a couple of references to PHP, "put down" a little in the way that seems to have become traditional for the Perl Uber-Geeks.
• A few days ago, I asked "is Perl dying out" in this column, and produced data showing, strongly, that this is not the case. Dave produced a similar, strong, case (based on job vacancies) to show that it's live and kicking; there are more Perl jobs than advanced Perl programmers out there - so there's still very much a case for our Perl courses - the next one starts tomorrow - and for occasional more advanced lectures such as this one.
Dave, Thank You for setting up and providing the day, and thank you to the BBC for hosting it. I know I found it very useful, and that all the others of the three dozen or so attendees that I spoke to did so too. (written 2007-06-03, updated 2007-06-07)
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