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Day 3: Core Perl Developers at Work and Play

State of the Onion Speech

Day 3 of The Perl Conference started off with Larry Wall giving his State of the Onion Speech. For those of you who don’t know, Larry is the creator of Perl. Larry is also known for his corny jokes, and there were plenty of them in his speech.

Larry used many visual aids for his speech this year, last year he used many different sounds in his presentation - next year he said he was going to use smells, he was joking at the time, but you never know with Larry. Larry used many circles as visual aids in this years speech, they were used to exemplify the new “open source” movement that has been going on recently. I think the best analogy he used was the pearl example. He said that a pearl starts out as an irritant, and then keeps growing and growing until it is something beautiful. Larry called himself the irritant in the example, but without him, we’d probably all be using some heavily marketed, proprietary language right now. Larry’s analogy relates well to how Perl is now, the same goes for Apache and now Netscape is hoping to jump into the “open source parade” too.

Larry also made sure that we all remembered what three qualities make up a good Perl programmer, laziness, impatience, and hubris.

OO in Perl, Boom or Bust?

The debate over whether OO should be used in Perl was a ton of fun! On the pro-OO side was Chip Salzenberg and Mike Stok while on the anti-OO side was Tom Christiansen and Jon Orwant.

Chip started out for the pro side and had many good points, such as “There is more than one way to do it” or ” If it helps some people develop code quicker, then leave it in.” These are some of the fundamentals that Perl is built around.

Jon was next, his slides were titled OOP Sucks and he had several points why OO programming is bad. Jon’s main point was that OO programming adds unnecessary complexity to the programs. He presented examples with benchmark timings, the OO side lost bad.

Tom also took the microphone and was debating with Chip. The funniest part was when Tom said “Would you argue with me?” to Chip because Chip had admitted to a few cases where Tom had good points. I think Tom’s rebuttal summed it all up when he said “Remember what static actually means… dead.” Tom got a round of applause for that one.

When the debate ended, I got the feeling that OO lost because it added unneeded complexity to the programs and slowed them down by creating extra overhead.

The Internet Quiz Show

The Internet Quiz Show was the highlight of the day. Jon Orwant hosted the competition in a “college bowl-style” format.

The questions were very well written and very challenging. Jon asked questions like “If Microsoft were to sell everything and go into the kidney business, how many kidneys could they buy at fair-market value?” or “Out of the following drinks, rank them in order of caffeine.” Some of the questions even related to Perl - actually, most related to Perl, but Jon had to have some fun writing them.

The winning team ended up being Nick Ing-Simmons, Graham Barr, and Brand Hilton representing the Dallas/Fort-Worth Perl Mongers.

The Perl Institute

In a late evening session, Chip Salzenberg held a session to talk about the direction of The Perl Institute (TPI). TPI is going to work on getting some professionally designed marketing materials together to help promote Perl. We all know that Perl is doing much of the work in businesses but we are having a hard time selling Perl to the managers because it is “free”. Chip offered some suggestions on TPI direction and gathered volunteers to help maintain the organization.

The Perl Night-Life

The evening ended with another large group of “Perl people” going out an doing some serious networking, code sharing and conceptualizing over some drinks (sorry if I am typing too loud Randal). The difference this evening is that we had reservations at the pub so we didn’t have to walk around town looking for a pub that could accommodate us. It was really a great time spending the evening with some of the core Perl developers and code maintainers.

Winding Down

Tomorrow marks the end of The Perl Conference. I’ll have one more update to fill you in on what happens and any other newsworthy items that come up. See you then!

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