Python/Perl Popularity (Re: A Mountain of Perl...)

tom__98 at tom__98 at
Mon Apr 10 22:08:31 CEST 2000

In article <20000405053920.20579.qmail at>,
  lewst <lewst at> wrote:
> What is it about Perl that makes it so much more popular and have such
> a huge grassroots swell?  I personally find Perl an abomination and
> Python a breath of fresh air.  Perl has that first mover advantage I
> suppose, but should that really make such a hugh difference?

I don't know about others, but I frequently end up using
Perl instead of Python, even though I greatly prefer Python
as a language.

The reasons?  Several:

 * perldoc makes it really easy to find documentation
   for modules

 * CPAN and the CPAN module make it really easy
   to find and install modules: they are all in a single
   place, they are well indexed, they are searchable,
   and they can be downloaded and installed with one
   or two commands.

 * Even when installing by hand, I find Perl modules
   easier to install than Python modules.

 * There seem to be a lot more Perl modules out there
   than Python modules.

 * Some modules that are important to me (HTTP, HTML,
   database, etc.) seem to be more up-to-date for Perl
   than for Python.

 * Perl actually has a few handy language features,
   including lexical closures and automatic caching
   of compiled regular expressions, which makes it feel
   not quite as clunky as it is.  Also, its syntax makes
   writing short scripts and one liners disproportionately

 * Perl now comes preinstalled on a lot of operating systems,
   so I can pretty much use it in place of the shell for
   scripting (and it's a lot nicer than the shell for anything

Again, I greatly prefer Python.  But if the choice is between
writing a 100 line Perl script based on a module that takes a
minute to download and install or trying for an hour to find
and install some Python extension, Python loses out.  Of course,
the bigger the job, the more important Python's linguistic
advantages become.  So, I end up writing lots of smaller Perl
scripts (some of which, unfortunately, grow to be quite big),
and the occasional larger Python project.


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