Can we rely on Perl?

Yesterday someone called me asking basically if they can rely on Perl?

They were thinking to buy a product that is written in Perl from a vendor which is a very small shop. One owner and a few employees. The customer is basically a .NET shop with no expertise in Perl.

The guy who called me basically wanted to protect himself in case the vendor disappears - eg. wins on the LOTTO or ran over by a bus. Will they be stuck with something they can't handle? Will they be able to find people to maintain it?

Apparently the vendor would hand over all the rights and source code so the client could technically and legally maintain the code. They just have no expertise in Perl.

I was surprised but if I understood correctly the vendor would also be ready to rewrite the whole thing in .NET as well, reducing the long term risk of the customer but increasing the investment by a substantial factor.

So the customer has to decide if the risk of using the Perl based solution is higher than the cost of rewriting in .NET.

I totally understand why they think there is higher risk in having Perl there. They will have to maintain expertise in more than one technology and they don't want to be left alone.

If I want to help the Perl world to grow then I need to be able to reduced the perceived risk of Perl.

For that I need to be able to point out that

  • there are enough Perl programmers out there they can hire
  • there are enough consultants who can offer them help in Perl
  • that Perl is used in a lot of companies in their neighborhood (they don't care about Perl usage in other countries)
  • that Perl is used for new development and not only maintaining legacy code

I pointed him to the list of members of the Perl Ecosystem Group and showed that there are two local contractors listed there. This is still very little to really prove the point but I think this is a good direction.

I think companies will take the list of consultants more seriously if these consultants show their seriousness by investing money in Perl.

Published on 2011-02-21 by Gabor Szabo