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Sorry PHP, but Perl is my first love

Sorry PHP, but Perl is my first love

Stonewall Thomas

This may make me sound horribly old, but the first language that I learned to write interactive web programs in was Perl. I'm not sure whether my love of the camel mascot had any bearing on the decision, but I quickly discovered the power of the language and its contributed modules - I was totally hooked. The language wasn't specifically developed for the web in the way PHP was, but its text-handling capabilities made it an absolute perfect fit. HTML documents are just text documents anyhow, right? I don't know if Perl's falling behind PHP was related to its complication and difficult syntax, but it's certainly not due to any lack of versatility.

The first large site I wrote in Perl was a CRM system, at the request of my employer. It was actually a very powerful and secure program that kept track of a user's contacts and appointments. It did not end there. The system would allow sales input under a customer to generate and email invoices, and schedule ad runs on our site. A handy calendar made it really easy for the ad manager to know what was running on which days all at a glance. Built into it was an inter-office communication system that kept people out of their inboxes and into the system - not to mention reminders for birthdays, anniversaries and vacations. I look back and I am so amazed that I wrote the entire thing by myself, but I was excited by the new technology and that makes me more focused than anything else that I can think of.

I work mostly in Drupal now which is PHP-based, but every time someone comes at me with a data-specific dilemma or a horrible spreadsheet cleanup job - it's Perl to the rescue. I use it to generate certificates based on specific criteria and spreadsheet data all the time. Sloppy data in, a folder full of PDFs ready for distribution out.

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