NB: These pages were mostly written in 2001 or so. The résumé dates are accurate but the code is aged and unlike whiskey, 8 year-old code doesn't usually taste better. For a look at my current skills and to see my CPAN modules, sample code, and code discussions, please see these pages instead: Perl resources and sample code and PangyreSoft.
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These pages first went up in 2001 so they have many out of date parts. There are newer code samples, discussions, and tutorials here – Perl and JavaScript.


Please browse through the code samples and discussions linked to the left. If you are looking for a good Perl book or two, here’s a great list.

Perl and why Perl?

Perl was designed to make hard things easy and impossible things possible. It’s more than that. By offering several approaches to any given problem the language speaks to the individual coder. Problems dissolve before Perl.

I watched in horror and amazement at a job while we developed a GUI (Graphical User Interface), for several hundred employees, in Java and C to replace many Perl/C/Shell tools. It took more than a year, and a few million dollars, of constant development before the project was 28% complete compared to the old tools. Newly trained employees had an 80% abandonment rate of the new tools in favor of the old.

Somewhere in the first year (the project was scrapped in the middle of the second year) a Perl Hacker friend of mine remarked, “I could have done the whole thing in Perl Tk in a weekend.”

At the time I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t really. It probably would’ve taken him two weeks but he could’ve duplicated a year’s work in Java. Perl proto-typing and development is that much faster than C or Java. Not always 20 fold, but often and almost never worse than 5 fold. If it can be done in 2 months in C or Java, it can probably be done in 1 week in Perl.

Mythology: “Don’t use Perl because I say so”

Forget Perl. C is much faster!
How do you mean? In what situation? Yes, there is equivalent C and Perl where the C is a lot faster, but the Perl can be as fast depending on what you’re doing. Where the C is faster, it’s often not that much faster. And in persistent execution situations like mod_perl, the gain is lessened.

This point has always been flawed logically. If a speed gain is so damn important, why aren’t you writing your code in native machine languages? Because it would be too hard. It would be a waste of effort. That’s what C looks like to a Perl programmer for many tasks.

To quote, Damian Conway, the guardian angel of Perl:

For me, Perl syntax hits the sweet spot between too much order (e.g. Pascal, Ada, Python) and too much chaos (e.g. Lisp, APL, Forth). It “fits my brain” better…
[Perl] allows me to craft the precise compromise I want between code size, maintainability, efficiency, and complexity.
It can be quick-and-dirty when I feel the need for speed, but it can also be clean-and-careful when I need robustness. And it can be both in the same program, which lets me prototype new features quickly without compromising the integrity of the existing code.
Perl is multi-paradigm: I can write code that’s procedural, or object-oriented, or functional, or declarative; whatever solves my problem best.
I can often get my task done with no effort whatsoever, just by downloading what I need from the CPAN.
I guess the ultimate reason I love working with Perl is because working with Perl doesn’t feel like working at all. It’s so easy and satisfying on so many levels that it always feels like play.

A sentiment offered up over and over by programmers who are doing terrific work in Perl and sharing it with the world.

I write C because I have to. I write perl because I like to.
–Sullivan Beck (800lb gorilla Date::Manip)

To underscore the confusion of the language choice situation many developers are turning to Java instead of C as their system level language. Java is slower than Perl in many cases!

Flash cards are over 512 megabytes and home computers will be doing teraflops soon. Moore’s Law keeps refusing to bottom out. The speed argument becomes hollower every day.

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Text, original code, fonts, and graphics ©1990-2009 Ashley Pond V.