Sebastopol, CA--Perl, one of today's most popular programming
languages, is maturing and becoming established in mission-critical
applications in large corporate settings. This is one conclusion
reached by Perl's creator, Larry Wall, following the
Second Annual Perl
Conference, which took place last week in San Jose, CA. O'Reilly &
Associates, sponsor of the conference, reported that more than 1200
people, a 25% increase over the first Perl Conference in 1997, attended
the four-day event, another sign that the Perl community is growing
"We're now seeing the critical mass along with the technical maturity,"
said Wall, Senior Software Developer with O'Reilly & Associates. "Last
year, at the first Perl Conference, there was a sense of raw
excitement. This year we've added to that a sense of confidence that
Perl is getting the recognition it deserves."
Most of the conference presentations were technical in nature. However,
one session, "Championing Perl," discussed the issues that management
has with using Perl in corporate settings where the perceived "safe"
choice is packaged, proprietary software. The panel covered such topics
as technical support for Perl, licensing issues, and "name dropping,"
that is, the mention of companies like IBM, Yahoo and Netscape, all of
whom are using Perl, to convince managers of Perl's practicality. Dick
Hardt, Chief Technology Officer of
ActiveState Tool Corp., a
developer of Perl for Windows systems, was moderator of the panel. "A
number of Perl developers have had difficulty getting Perl officially
accepted by their managers," Hardt said. "In some cases the developers
have used Perl anyway because it was the best tool for the job. In
other cases people had been successful in getting Perl accepted, and
many developers found it encouraging to hear how this was
At the Perl Conference,
Tim O'Reilly, Founder and CEO of O'Reilly &
Associates, awarded six prizes of $1,000 each to winners of a contest
for Best User Applications. "Developers continue to push the boundaries
of what you can accomplish with Perl," O'Reilly explained. "These
awards clearly exemplify the growing reach of Perl. For example, Carlos
de la Guardia and Javier Rodriguez won Best End-Use Application for
putting together an entire online banking service for a large bank in
Perl, on a very accelerated timeframe, and on budget." Other winners
were: Best Software Development Tool, Ken Fox; Best New Module, Gisle
Aas; Best System Administration Tool, Marty Cudmore and Richard Jetton;
Best Web Application Tool, Jon Udell; and the Larry Wall Award for
Practical Utility, Damian Conway.
At the Perl Conference, Netscape Communications' Tim Howes,
Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer for the Server Products
Division, announced that Netscape will release PerLDAP, combining Perl
with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), as open source
software. The new software lets developers quickly create directory
capabilities for extranet applications. PerLDAP integrates LDAP into
Perl, assisting in information exchanged (using both LDAP and non-LDAP
protocols) between computers, from mainframes to PCs.
Several additional announcements were made in conjunction with
the Perl Conference. The new Perl, version 5.005, was recently
released, including dozens of significant new features including the
integration of Win32 into Perl's core. O'Reilly's
Kit-Win32 Edition was released at the conference, featuring more than
1800 pages of documentation and the first comprehensive collection of
Win32 modules for Perl.
Perl Conference 2.0 was
Open Source Developers Day, a full
day of presentations on the practical aspects of developing open source
software businesses, and the Open Source Town Meeting, attended by more
than 300 participants.