[Israel.pm] Perl versus PHP for a Scalable Web Project

Elizabeth Sterling elizabeth at sparkthing.com
Sun Mar 18 10:09:41 PDT 2007

Hi guys,

   OK, we were just talking about "Why companies don't use Perl for
big projects" so, here's your chance to help me get Perl used for a
biggie. No, I'm not asking you guys to do all my work for me, but I'd
like to make sure that I'm not missing anything...

   Here's the situation:
   A large social networking-type Website needs a new system from the
ground up. There is no question regarding a few of the pieces. They
will definitely use Linux. They will definitely use MySql. They will
definitely have an AJAX-y front end. There is a question, however
regarding the language in between. PHP? Or Perl?

   The arguments for PHP are that it's easy to get someone who can
write it. Even if you hire someone with ASP experience, you can get
them up to speed in PHP pretty quickly. That's rarely necessary,
however, since there are plenty of PHP monkeys out there. (She says
between scratching under her arms and letting out an accidental
"ook!") There are also a lot of existing opensource tools that can be
used to build certain pieces of the networking tools, calendar
systems, etc.

    The biggest argument I can make for Perl right at the moment is
that its i18n/l10n capabilities are much stronger, and this site needs
to be up in multiple languages and both directions from the minute it
launches this new version. There's no time to mess about with PHP's
hand-stand, fingers in the ear on the opposite side of your head
approach to multiple character set usage. But that's not enough of an

     Scalability is certainly an issue, but I've worked on sites that
run in PHP and get millions of unique visitors per day, so the
question is maybe not "is it scalable?" but "how much will it cost to
scale?" I *think* that Perl is cheaper on resources in the long run,
but I don't have any specific data on that. Do any of you?

     Your thoughts, insight, and best arguments for Perl would be
warmly welcomed!!

- Elizabeth

"In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary
school computer labs ..., is the children are being trained to use
Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I consider that criminal, because children
should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not
running office automation tools."   -- Nicholas Negroponte

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