Is the Perl community schizophrenic?
Recently, I've been reading with great interest about the future of Perl, and -- more specifically -- about how the "outside" sees Perl and how Perl might need a director of marketing. Frankly, and at the risk of rocking the boat, I'll propose that Perl needs more than just a marketing director, or someone on the "outside" to do a survey; Put simply: Perl needs a creative agitator. (Or, perhaps more appropriately, a creative benevolent dictator.)
Though I've been using Perl on-and-off for more than ten years, I'm relatively new to the "Perl community." I've been involved with promoting free and open-source software since 1999 -- writing articles, organizing events, and so on -- and sometime in 2005, while interviewing the fine folks at Portland's FreeGeek project, I was pulled back into the world of Perl.
At that time, my initial reaction was: Is the Perl community schizophrenic?
As far as visual presentation goes (dare I say "branding?"), the Perl community is all over the place. Spread across a dizzying array of Web sites -- perl.org, use.perl.org, perldoc.perl.org, Perl Monks, Perl Mongers, CPAN, and so on -- and each with its own entirely unique visual identity, the Perl community fails at presenting an easy-to-understand and easy-to-navigate information space. (Perhaps a bit of the TMTOWTDI gone awry?)
Don't believe me? I present to you the world of Perl as it looks to the outside:
Why is this a problem? I believe it's a problem because first impressions matter. For those new to programming who are in search of the right language, there's a lot of information to slog through. Younger languages like Ruby and frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Django, are making their case upfront, concisely, and in a visually compelling way. (Something that Perl.org fails at, in my humble opinion.)
It's also problem because we are in a time where the Web is the platform, and everyday programming is less likely to be strictly confined to some dark corner where it can hide away its ugliness. I believe this is partly why there are movements within the Perl community toward a "modern Perl," and an "enlightened Perl," and toward providing the various Perl (a-hem) Web frameworks that we have to choose from now. The trend is toward a better-looking Perl, an object-oriented Perl, a Perl that is more Web-native, and -- ultimately -- a Perl that the whole community can be proud of.
In conclusion: improving the outside perception of Perl is going to take more than just blogging.
That's it for today. Next up: A closer look at the Perl visual identities in the wild.
Help us produce more like this
Patreon is a platform that enables us to offer more to our readership. With a new podcast, eBooks, tote bags and magazine subscriptions on offer, as well as early access to video and articles, we’re very excited about our Patreon! If you’re not on board yet then check it out here.