Why you should learn perl programming

Last weekend I attended the London Perl Workshop. One of the discussions was centred on the state of the jobs market for Perl programmers.

If you listen to many in the media and those who measure the popularity of programming languages Perl might not seem like the best choice for someone who is considering a career in programming. You might well end up considering that Java, C, Python or even PHP are where you should be focusing and certainly the first three are good bets however what you would be missing is that there is a very strong demand in the real jobs market for Perl developers.

Not only is there strong demand but pay rates are also very good as that demand is generally from successful companies. Moreover those who program in Perl benefit from the availability of a vast range of well written libraries on the CPAN which make it easier to produce high quality code that is easy to maintain. The days when you might reasonably fear that Perl programming resulted in spaghetti code not even the author could maintain are long gone. Modern perl programming produces clear code with well established standards which mean large teams are able to work well together.

I recently found myself having to dig into a very large Perl codebase (over 100,000 lines of code) which is already nearly 10 years old. One might expect that this was a painful experience but in fact that was far from the truth. The code was clear, readable and easy to update without fear of breaking things.

The fact that Perl has a fantastic testing framework (courtesy of CPAN) makes life even better as it is easy to write and maintain a suite of tests to ensure that changes to the software do exactly what is expected and do not have unexpected results.

Of course Perl is a Free Software/Open Source language so you get all the benefits of continuous development with an immediate focus on what developers and those who employ them actually need and of a dynamic and, mostly, friendly and intelligent community around the language.

UKFSN uses the LAMP stack and here the P is definitely Perl.

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