[Pdx-pm] [meeting notes] What can we do about the low student SoC turn out?

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Fri Apr 11 12:03:35 PDT 2008

On Thursday 10 April 2008, benh wrote:
> Here are all the things that I scribbled down from the meeting
> tonight, add and comment as you feel necessary.
> - Make perl 'cool' so that the kids think that it's exciting
>   - games

Game development frameworks like Squeak's E-Toys will be nice, I think. The default perl 5 distribution, while usable for doing sys-admin tasks, is too serious and not useful for anything else. If we had a Task::PerlToys (tentative name) which will grab a nice environment like Squeak's EToys or PLT Dr Scheme that would be nice.

Back when I started programming, I used BASIC on an XT ROM BASIC, which was very cool. I got to writing simple games that ran on my XT very quickly. Now, as opposed to LOGO, which was another pedagogical language, BASIC was actually very useful. Larry Wall tells here on how he wrote a compiler in BASIC:


But you could do extreme programming. In fact, I had a college buddy I did pair programming with. We took a compiler writing class together and studied all that fancy stuff from the dragon book. Then of course the professor announced we would be implementing our own language, called PL/0. After thinking about it a while, we announced that we were going to do our project in BASIC. The professor looked at us like were insane. Nobody else in the class was using BASIC. And you know what? Nobody else in the class finished their compiler either. We not only finished but added I/O extensions, and called it PL 0.5. That's rapid prototyping.

BASIC was so cool, that there's BASIC code still used in production now in many obscure places. You can still see various influences of BASIC in modern languages such as Perl, Python, Ruby, etc. and it probably also made some influences on the Lisps too. (Java is too little BASIC-like if you ask me.)

>   - interesting apps

The problem is that most Perl code is used "in-house" or pseudo-in-house. While true for most other technologies (see http://catb.org/~esr/writings/magic-cauldron/magic-cauldron-3.html ). There are some commercial, FOSS or both Perl apps out there:


The question is naturally, what kinds will interest kids. Games, naturally. But they may also like the give-me-my-own-web-site-in-5-minutes that PHP is famous for. I started the Fullperl effort to facilitate this:


I lost interest relatively quickly, though, but the idea still seems sound to me.

They also like writing desktop apps. I think Perl has good support for Gtk+, but Perl/Qt and Perl/KDE have been unmaintained.
>   - parrot


>   - make it know where perl is used

> - Make perl corporate/government safe
>   - who do you call when something breaks?

Who do you call when Python breaks? Or PHP? I also know that support for proprietary technologies is often lacking.

In any case, some people and companies sell you Perl support, either per-perl or as part of the OS distribution. I suppose creating a registry of Perl contractors/supporters/trainers/etc. would be a good idea as a complementary to jobs.perl.org and jobs.perl.com.

I used to have a simple meta-data-database-driven CGI::App application, with two config files - one for tracking (Linux-related) jobs and one for tracking consultant in Israel. It since went offline (though I hope at least the jobs tracker will return), but you can find its source code here:


You can probably do something better using one of them modern web-application development frameworks (Catalyst, RoR, etc.) or alternatively just using a wiki.
> - show those around you how neat perl is
>   - we have this community for a reason
>   - share the love, Tom(?) is creating parsers for others in need
> - release Perl6

I think Perl 5 is cool enough. Some people are waiting for Perl 6, but we need to explain how learning Perl 5 won't be time-wasted, and how it will be used and maintained for years to come (and other reasons that make people afraid of learning Perl in the first place.)
> - inter-mingle with other groups

Right. In Israel, I jump-started the Israeli Python group, and also gave some advice to the Ruby-ILers. I started learning Ruby and it seems interesting.

I'll give my own take of this issue later on, because KMail is misbehaving in this message, for the first time ever. (A Heisenbug probably).


       Shlomi Fish

Shlomi Fish      shlomif at iglu.org.il
Homepage:        http://www.shlomifish.org/

I'm not an actor - I just play one on T.V.
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