[Israel.pm] Informal poll: Why are you (or your company) still using an older version of Perl?

guy keren choo at actcom.co.il
Sat Oct 31 04:58:29 PDT 2009

Gabor Szabo wrote:

> On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 4:49 PM, guy keren <choo at actcom.co.il> wrote:
>> i have a different question: why do you care?
> That's a good question too but your comment regarding
> selling courses was quite nasty.
> But hey, it was true.

if it was nasty - this is not my fault - you started sounding too 
"microsoftish" in the way you wrote your question - and i wanted to make 
sure that the motives are clear.

> I want to help keeping Perl viable in the future so I can sell more courses.
> Or am I not supposed to to that as an open source developer?

one thing to keep it viable - and another thing is to do it by trying to 
"Force" people to upgrade. if you start doing this - you become as bad 
as microsoft's marketing - ever pushing people into using something they 
don't realy need.

> If companies stay at old versions of perl for a long time they will start
> complaining that they have an old version of perl that lack all kinds of things.

i don't know about you - but companies i worked in hardly ever 
complained about that.

companies i worked in had no time and manpower to re-port all the old 
code to work with newer versions of perl if things start breaking up. 
there were always more important things, and unlike what you imply - the 
price for staying with an older perl wasn't necessarily such a big price.

hey - i write code in C - and this language (as a language) remained 
almost the same for years - most people don't even dare to use the newer 
C standard from 1999 - most use the standard from 1989. still - the 
libraries get added, changed, updated, more powerful, etc. - without 
breaking their language compatibility. the only thing that changed the 
way people program in C was the addition of multi-threading support 
(because this ha to be done in a somewhat intrusive manner) - and even 
this was overcame eventually without changing the base system. yes - 
there was also the change in function decleration syntax.

> They complain the code is unmaintainable and that they cannot upgrade
> as the gap is to big. In many companies the "solution" is to rewrite the
> applications in some other language.

why is code unmaintainable? code's maintainability got nothing to do 
with the syntax of the language - and it got all to do with how it was 
written in the first place.

i don't realy buy that those syntax changes increase programmer 
productivity by that much. you want to break the syntax? fine, break it. 
  and then expect the consequence you mentioned - that people getting 
burned by this will decide to move to other languages.

i am seeing a similar issue with python - they decided to break the 
compatibility between versions of python - we'll have to wait and see 
how this affects the python following.

> It also creates a pressure on the CPAN developers and on the perl porters
> to keep perl fully backward compatible all the way to 5.0 and beyond.
> See, up to a few months ago Michael Schwern was working too hard to keep
> Makemaker work on the 5.0x line just to satisfy those who don't want to
> upgrade perl. On the perl 5 porters list - the maintainer and
> developers of perl -
> there is a constant tension between the people who want to remove syntax
> that was deprecated 10-15 years ago(!) and between those who fear that it
> might create bad reaction among the perl users.

why are you so astounded about features from 10-15 years ago? i will 
remind you that the basic unix system calls API hardly broke since the 
1970s - almost 40 years ago. when people feel a need for a more 
powerfull API - they add, rather then replace. they usually add APIs - 
not syntax.

> There is a price for companies that are not upgrading perl. Maybe the
> problem is
> that currently a large chunk of that prices is paid by the open source
> developers
> and those who would like to have more modern perl.

it all depends on the purpose of those developing the language. if their 
purpose is to write the best language they can - they should by all 
means stop supporting the old features. if their purpose is to increase 
the adoption of perl - they should consider backwards compatibility.


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