The Perl editor and IDE market

A week ago I published the Perl Editor and IDE Poll results and Adam Kennedy wrote about his plans with Strawberry Perl for Windows.

It was strange to see several people trying to fiercely defend vi or emacs from these GUI based IDE people. I know many people feel strongly that their editor of choice is the best and everybody should use it but I don't think so. I don't even think that everyone should use Padre.

The reason I wanted to run this poll is not to evaluate how Padre scores compared to other editors but to have some food for thought for the Padre developers regarding what kind of editors people are using. The 3% that Padre got does not mean much either but I was happy to see more than 100 people marking it. So we know there are at least 100 people who use it part of their time or that want us to feel good.

So what did I learn from it?

I am quite sure that we won't see many vim or emacs users switch to Padre as Padre does not fit their standard use-case. Some of them might play with Padre for the fun of it and in some cases they might even use Padre for certain tasks but that's not really the market of Padre. (Although I saw many people who use vim despite not knowing it at all and struggling with it all the time. You can't really exploit the power of vim using two fingers! I think these people would be better off with Gedit or Padre.)

One of the main targets we have is people new to Perl but they were not included in the poll so we can't talk about them here. Then again some of the comments during the poll suggested that people using other programming languages will tend to use vi or emacs a lot less than perl programmers.

Among the current Perl users our primary target is the people using programmer editors such as Ultra Edit, Notepad++, TextPad on Windows or editors like Kate or Gedit on Linux. I think TextMate and BBEdit users will be already harder to convince. Beyond that are the IDE users, mainly Komodo and Eclipse+EPIC.

Feature wise Padre is more or less at the same level as Notepad++, TextPad or Gedit. In the non-Perl related areas those editors might still have some advantages but for Perl development Padre already has a number of feature those don't have.

So what stops people using those editor from switching to Padre?

One thing I guess is the fact that we hardly promoted Padre beyond our blogs. Only recently we started to offer an easy Padre installer for Windows and there still is some confusion as people are afraid it will interfere with their currently installed version of Perl. There might be some minor issues but mostly they work well together. So even people who use ActivePerl 5.6.x could download the Stand Alone Padre and work with it.

I don't know much about TextMate and BBEdit but unless some Mac users join the Padre team we won't be able to do much about those.

Komodo and Eclipse are still beyond our reach. Maybe next month.

Further polls

It's only an assumption but I am quite sure the people who answered that poll are much closer to the Perl community than the average Perl user. I also think that these "community people" tend to be more Unix/Linux oriented and more "hard core" than the average Perl user.

In order to evaluate better what market share the various editors and IDEs really have we will need a longer survey that will collect information on various other parameters such as Operating Systems, experience level in Perl, amount of weekly Perl usage, job description, industry the person works in and even involvement in the Perl community.

Published on 2009-11-04 by Gabor Szabo