[Melbourne-pm] Meeting tomorrow night: Wednesday 9th May

David Dick ddick at aapt.net.au
Wed May 9 03:16:32 PDT 2007

G'day Andrew,
i'll have a stab at stating the case from the opposite p.o.v.

Andrew Stuart wrote:
> It's easy to find "programmers" of  any kind - Java, Perl, PHP, C#, 
> whatever.
and vice versa, it's relatively easy to find an employer.
> It's hard to find programmers who know what they are doing, are experienced, 
> communicate well, have coding skills, solid theoretical computer science 
> knowledge, passion, a desire to learn, a desire to know how to do things 
> better, a curiosity about the technologies that they work with, and get 
> along well with others.
but trickier to find one that understands technology at all, let along 
has the foresight and intelligence to be able to describe a concept that 
will be worth something in 5-10 years, that is, a truely visionary and 
exciting company for the geekier members of the population. ( for the 
record, i've spent the last X years building a supply chain management 
system from scratch... *shame*, dave *shame* which is why i'm not at 
melbourne.pm 2nite *double shame* )
> The problem with recruiting Perl programmers is that Perl programmers tend 
> to have become a Perl programmer because of their passion and enthusiasm and 
> interest in the technology - there's only a finite (and small) pool of those 
> people.  There isn't a flow of graduates expanding the pool because the 
> formal training tends not to be in Perl but in C# or Java.  There's an ever 
> growing army of Java programmers (the challenge there is just as great to 
> find people who are really good at what they do and who feel the passion).
The difficulty from a programmers point of view is keeping enthusiasm 
high in spite of the mundane jobs that need to get done. :)
> Another problem is that Perl is a mature technology and no longer at the 
> cutting edge of sexy, so the passionate first mover techies who move like a 
> wave onto the latest technologies are prodding and poking Ruby On Rails and 
> Adobe Flex.  Perl isn't a legacy technology but it doesn't have the mind 
> share of other, more "exciting/new" technologies.
Agreed.  However, if you get a good perl programmer, they tend not to be 
the people who you'll lose in ten minutes when the next Ruby, C#, etc 
pops up.  People with a small attention span don't tend to produce 
things of value (imho of course), cos you just can't in a small period 
of time.   I believe the current estimate to build a piece of software 
that earns heaps of cash (Oracle, Win32, SAP) was about 10 years.  That 
may be shorter now with Amazon, Google, etc, but i believe you're still 
talking years from concept to bringing in the buckets of cash.
> In a skills crisis, the availability of development resource becomes (or 
> should become) a serious consideration for companies that need to get their 
> development work done and get software projects built.  But most companies 
> stick to their languages extremely tightly and would rather wait a very long 
> time to get people than consider bringing new languages into their 
> technology environment.  If you've bet your technology strategy on Perl then 
> your growth is going to be constrained by the small pool of people who know 
> how to drive your technology.
Agreed, but i would suspect tech companies are also driven by what they 
have already developed with.  It's a tough ask to rewrite production 
code of decent size in a completely new language.
> Training graduates in Perl programming is expensive and time consuming and 
> distracting to the experienced programmers, so I'm guessing there's not too 
> many companies taking a long term view by training up their own Perl people.
i hope that's wrong, but i tend to be rather optimistic. :)
> End result is that for the foreseeable future (good) Perl people will 
> probably be somewhat hard to find.
i suspect this to be the case with many other languages.  I think with 
perl the difference is that the monkeys are becoming harder to find.  
The quality people are still there, but as in any language, they are 
always hard to find.

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