The Problems of Perl: The Future of Bugzilla

Max Kanat-Alexander mkanat at
Sat May 12 19:40:11 UTC 2007

On Sat, 12 May 2007 11:08:02 +0100 "Aaron Trevena"
<aaron.trevena at> wrote:
> looking at the pros and cons wiki page, it is pretty clear
> that switching to Python or Ruby would bring very real technical
> problems to the project, not to mention the social problems involved
> in forking and alienating both users and developers.

	Hi Aaron. I believe we've talked and you've never written
extensively in Python or Ruby, correct?

> IME that isn't true. Mitigating for Python's poor error reporting,
> Ruby's poor performance and or reinventing wheels in Ruby are costly.

	Which you have no extensive personal experience with, right?

> I think Python imposes a huge productivity tax, what with
> linespace sensitivity and poor error reporting, but I know that's
> mostly subjective and don't go badgering Python projects to switch to
> perl, or trolling on slashdot/digg/reddit/etc as Python fanboys tend
> to.

	That is partly subjective. It's a matter of how fast the
average person who doesn't know the language can become proficient in
it, which will then also determine how quickly a user can become
proficient in it. And I mean proficient enough to write correct, OO
code by current best practices for that language.

> The next version of Perl is 5.10. It's a couple of weeks away.

	Perl 5.8 was released in July 2002.

	Perl 5.10 will be released by about June 2007, according to
this. I understand that the language internals are old, and that's one
reason that Perl 6 is being written. (Instead of refactoring Perl 5.)

	In 2002, Python was at 2.1. In 2007 it's at 2.5. (That's four
major releases.)

	Ruby unfortunately progresses at only about 1.5 times the rate
of Perl development. (It's had one major release, 1.8, in the same time
frame, and 1.9 should be out Some Time Soon.) So it doesn't have much
advantage there.

	I think even Java has had several major releases since 2002.

> Call me crazy, but how about focusing on using contempory Perl and
> looking at genuine technical problems instead subjective 'grass is
> greener' whining.

	That's also under consideration, if you read the Wiki page.

> the combination of the
> Mozilla Foundation/Corporation leaving the project to rot with no
> funding or support,

	What? The Foundation has never sponsored the development of

> so much crufty out of date code

	There's certainly enough of that left. :-)

> and a couple of vocal people clamouring to stop useful development

	Nobody said anything about stopping development. In fact, I
even pointed out that that shouldn't happen.

> wasting there's rewriting it poorly in a language that makes them
> feel warm and fuzzy.

	Nobody's re-writing it yet. It's just research into whether or
not there would be advantages. I'm glad to have your opinions on the

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