For the fourth year running, Humanstate developers were all over the Swiss Perl Workshop in Villars on 25 to 26 August 2017. With a delegation of seven developers (nearly a fifth of total attendance), presentations by Lee Johnson and Cal McCutcheon, and a conference braai (BBQ) at our offices, you might say we were well represented.

Yet Perl isn’t new. How is the language of the 90s still cool?

Lee explains: “Perl was responsible for the birth of the ‘dynamic Web’ in the mid 90s, and many well-known companies used it to bootstrap their businesses. They might not have so much Perl in their stacks anymore, but it's still everywhere. Startups still use it.”

Perl in Humanstate

As for our interest and investment in Perl, easily 95% of our stack is written in it, and has been since the company started in 2001. Humanstate continues to send developers to workshops and conferences, and Lee contributes back code:

What about the future? “We’ve modernised the GivenGain stack [with it] and are doing the same for PayProp – including adding a RESTful API. I think it's safe to say we are committed to the language,” he says.

The Perl confab circuit

The workshop attracted approximately 40 attendees – “pretty good for a small workshop in the mountains”, says Lee. (Perl leading light Damian Conway prefers ‘exclusive’.)

Make no mistake, there are enough Perl conferences and workshops to fill up your annual conference quota. They range from smaller workshops and meetups to larger conferences getting a few hundred attendees to ones attracting over a thousand, as in the case of recent Perl conferences in Japan.

In fact, Perl conferences are such a thing that there was once an entire series of them called Yet Another Perl Conference (now known as The Perl Conference). Gone are the days of readable acronyms.

Here’s Lee’s Instagram feed showing some of the things that go down at these events.

What’s new

So, what’s new with Perl? Lots, as it happens. There are yearly releases of the Perl core code, which include many updates and bug fixes. Here's this year's delta.

Then there are new modules and code, frequently uploaded to the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN).

And, of course, there’s Perl 6, formally released 18 months ago, on which we’ve been seeing the first book releases in 2017.

Few can sing Perl 6’s praises like Cal: “With Perl 6 taking the best ideas from many modern languages and coherently bundling them in a single language, it is poised to be the language for thinking and coding in systems,” he says.


Photos by Lee Johnson