A Perl Vitality Indicator
Update: Shortly after posting this, all three of the sites listed below were updated to have syntax highlighting for their code snippets! Nice!
A topic that sometimes comes up in Perl 5 circles is that, even though
- the language is doing well,
- the user community is active, and
- the CPAN is as useful and maintained as ever,
you still hear a handful of people claiming that Perl 5 is in decline, or acting derisive if you choose Perl 5 over, say, Python or Ruby for a new project.
Perlers wonder why this is.
I think I see one part of the problem.
Just now I had a brief look at a few recent Perl-related blog posts and articles. Here are a few links:
- Not to Hot for Mojo
- From ODT to POD (with practical dynamic language features)
- At the new perl5maven.com site, an article about a Simple CGI script form by e-mail
I noticed a pattern. Something obvious that they all have in common. Something that jumps out at the reader and warns, “seems a bit old-fashioned, no?”.
I’m guessing that the content of those articles is likely of high quality (I haven’t read them yet). But they’re all missing one essential thing … one critical hint to the reader that would right away suggest, “well, this looks modern and with-it”.
None of them have syntax highlighting of the code snippets.
Syntax highlighting in blog posts, articles, pastebins, etc., has become pervasive. Standard. If I see an article with code in it, and the code is not syntax-highlighted, it makes me wonder:
- Is something broken?
- Is this a very old blog post or article?
- Is the blogging or doc-prep software out-of-date?
- Did the author forget to tag the code snippet in some way?
The situation strikes me as very odd: Why wouldn’t one of the most doggedly resourceful hacker communities on Earth — who particularly want Perl 5 to be perceived as modern and active — why wouldn’t they insist upon using syntax highlighting in the very documents that many folks will first encounter 1 when looking into “what’s new” with the language?
This is, of course, aside from perldoc.perl.org, which does indeed provide lovely syntax highlighting of code snippets.↩