Monday, August 22, 2005

Comments on "PHP, Perl and Python on the wane?"

The article PHP, Perl and Python on the wane? brings indications to a decline in Enterprise utilization of the 3 Ps of lamP: Php, Python, Perl. Still, most of the article discusses PHP and not Perl/Python. The Foucs on PHP is evident, as Oracle and IBM have invested some millions in PHP just recently.

A note on Perl & Python: these two scripting languages are sophisticated; they have the power and capabilities of modern 3rd-gen languages like java and c (though, many of these capabilities are sub-written in C - but who cares). They are "open source" languages with very strong communities – meaning they are the outcome of a highly collaborative effort, fitting to the new model of the internet (yes, Web 2.0 again). Their only disadvantage is that they are "scripting languages" - which makes them "not here, nor there". Not here – they require higher level of investment and they have longer learning curve than bash or csh; not there - they are considered scripting languages so they don't have the seriousness and the "establishment"-backing as java, c and the other "official" languages.

Personally, I used to program billing, rating as well as many infra programs with Perl. What I'm hearing, though, is that Python is ten folds better, faster and cooler than Perl. The ability to have a fast working prototype with Python is - so I'm told - amazing. Also, many startups are now focusing on providing python/perl development and run-time platforms. ActiveGrid is a relatively known one and they just launched their grid lamp application server with python as the 1st supported programming language (Perl is next, java – last – if I'm not wrong).

If web 2 paradigm will catch, I don't see how Python and Perl could possibly left aside. On the contrary - these languages are the emblems of this era of community and collaboration. It will take some time until Enterprises will digest the revolution that is happening. Nowadays, Enterprises (and CIOs…) are still looking in apprehension at this new era (with the open-source movement being its socio-economic, consumer-driven flagship), which undermines the old principles of progress & assurance: we let the BIGS advance the technology and we buy (quality?) products from them, as long as they can provide job security ("No CIO was fired because he/she bought something from IBM…"). In the new world, best products are recognized, as well as produced, by the community, i.e. by the techies and the geeks; Traditional sales & marketing efforts are less and less the power behind progress and recognition.

Let us return to our sheep: Java, as well as the rest of the standard-bodies languages, has lesser chance to survive than Perl & Python. There is a lot of "image" (what others will say if…) in the usage of Java and J2EE. But images are trendy and prone to changes (indeed, just like python and perl, but still it's their collaborative/community nature that counts here….)


Anonymous Eyal Milrad said...

Though I totally agree that Python and PHP are becoming a dominant factor for web programming, mainly because of its supporting communities, I don't believe that java is prone to early death.
A good example is the story behind the birth of J2EE 3.0.
Anyone who worked with J2EE 2.0 (Or to be more precise, anyone who had to use the EJB 3.0 Entity Beans) would probably admit that it was a disaster. Actually, it was so awful that it raised real doubts about the chances that EJB can be used for writing complicated server applications as JSP did with web servers.
However, apparently, java community proved it has strong presence.
A community project named Hibernate made the uses of persistent objects as simple as using POJOs (Plain Old Java Objects), programmers could write fully server applications with WebLogic, WebSphere and JBOSS (another java open-source success story) with just plugging the Hibernate libs and spare the hassle of using EJBs.
In matter of fact, it was so successful, that J2EE 3.0 was totally revised (A Committee work), to reflect the new ideas presented in Hibernate.
This project as others (Spring, Tomcat, JBoss and many more) demonstrated the real power of Java and J2EE; communities can and do creates out-of-the-box solutions, while JCP who's supported by BEA, Sun, IBM, Borland and hundreds more members, design the next generation of J2EE by picking up the best ideas (though sometimes not for the user's best interest).
Java has great future, as well as PHP and Python, and for the same reasons, all three
are the result of the Open Source movement, and therefore are backed by both communities and industry (as opposed to Free Software Movement that sometimes is being confused with Open Source, but that's for different article).

1:02 AM  
Blogger Muli Koppel said...

Hi Eyal,

Your analysis of the java-related communities is righteous! And as you correctly noted, they replace the official standard bodies around java and j2ee. I heard they replace J2ee altogether, though. Anyhow, I'll add Java to my shopping cart...

3:54 PM  

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