I’ve read this article that debates the differences between perl and PHP in a childish way – sort of like the kindergarten debates on whether Batman can kick Spiderman’s ass. Since I haven’t ever coded a single line in perl, I can prove to the world that I’m a mature person that doesn’t plunge into “my operator in better than yours” debates, because if I would have any perl experience, I would be right there in the middle of it 😉 .
They may be right on some of the statements they make, but when they claim that a career in perl in better than one in PHP they’re wrong. Dead wrong. PHP has a bright future ahead it whereas PERL does not. Because, in the end, arguments such as “perl has better naming conventions” don’t matter. In a world where nearly all programmers have access to speedy O2 broadband packages or other reliable internet connections, both systems can be (and usually are) widely in use on a number of hugely popular sites. Decisions on what technologies should be used, especially on large projects where loads of money are involved, aren’t taken by geeks in dark rooms over a game of AD&D, but by CEOs over a game of golf or in really expensive restaurants.
If you go on Zend‘s website, you find things like improve productivity, maximize IT investments. This is music to a manager’s ears. CEOs like pie charts more than they like pie. If you go on perl’s website, what do you see? Well, perl 5, perl 6, CPAN ratings, Annotated CPAN, mailing lists. Why do you think that there are so many products being developed on Microsoft technologies? Do you think C# in better than perl or PHP? Or that ASP (not ASP.NET, the original ASP) was better? No, this is just Microsoft’s image at work.
PHP is quite big on its own, but compared to perl, it’s huge. PHP in on Oracle’s site. PHP is on Adobe’s site. Wikipedia is built on PHP, WordPress is built in PHP and the examples go on and on. Perl is not even in the debate, it’s seen as an esoteric language used by CLI geeks. I doubt (I haven’t checked so feel free to prove me wrong) that there is a single project with a budget over 200.000 euros being developed on perl.
These factors aren’t exactly “programming related”, so why are they so important in the day by day life of the average programmer? Well, they create jobs, pay money, give you the ability to pay the rent, buy a car, go on vacation and so on. If you come across a career decision between perl and PHP, don’t waste time wandering if perl’s naming standard is better than php’s or which language has less string comparison functions. But instead ask yourself, which technology will allow you to find a better job? Look on a local jobbing site and see how many PHP are available and compare that number to the number of perl jobs available – if any.
…just my 2 cents.