It’s hard to objectively measure Perl’s popularity compared to Python or Ruby. Even before nerds-central used job availability as a measurement, the ease of finding a job was a key requirement for me.
Who cares if I love Ruby if I can’t use it for the 10 hours a day I’m working?
In the last twelve years I’ve had no difficulty finding plenty of Perl work. In the past couple of years, I’ve had a few calls about Python jobs, but probably ten times fewer than the number of Perl calls I get. Hold the front page – Perl is ten times more popular than Python.
Well, no. Of course I get a lot more Perl calls. I’m a Perl programmer, and my résumé mentions Perl all over the place. Anyone calling about Python must really be desperate!
But I notice that a lot of Python programmers working at Python-centric firms apply similar logic. All the folks they work with do Python, clearly no-one does Perl anymore. Thank goodness – Python is finally the winner it always deserved to be.
Why do people care?
Network effects are important. All other things being equal, a language with more users will get more libraries, will have more companies using it, will get more users, will get more libraries, etc. vs a language with fewer users. And, popularity aside, none of the big three scripting languages has a huge advantage over the others.
Except of course that Perl was the first mover.
So, what can you do if you don’t have a real advantage you can point to? That’s right – you trash-talk the leader, hope you can convince enough people there is a real problem and when they jump ship hopefully you’ll be the one left with the positive feedback loop.