Fosdem O'Reilly
2004 Edition Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting


2004-01-26 - Dave Cross


An interview conducted by Raphael Bauduin
FOSDEM - First and traditional question : Please present yourself ...

Dave Cross - I'm Dave Cross. I've been working in IT since 1988 and using Perl since about 1996. I was the founder of the London Perl Mongers and now I'm the Perl Mongers User Groups Co-ordinator for the Perl Foundation. I own a small Open Source consultancy company amd I live in London.

FOSDEM - How and why did you start looking at Perl ?

Dave Cross - To be honest, I really don't remember the details. I was working on a project that was using Tcl and I remember someone saying that Perl would be better for the job in hand but that the Technical Architect didn't allow anyone to use Perl. That grabbed my interest and I started looking at it in my spare time. My next job allowed me to write a lot of Perl programs and I really haven't used many other languages since.

FOSDEM - What's the state of Perl6 and Parrot ?

Dave Cross - Two weeks ago I wouldn't have had a good answer to that question, but Piers Cawley did an informal survey of the people working on Perl 6 and he's summarised their answers at Parrot is going from strength to strength and most estimates predict an alpha version of Perl 6 out by the end of the year.

FOSDEM - Are there contacts between Perl developers and other scripting languages developers like Ruby or Python ?

Dave Cross - What ? Talking to the enemy ! Are you joking ?

Actually, Parrot seems to be doing a lot to bring the groups together. It's possible that languages like Ruby and Python will also be implemented on top of Parrot, so that's getting us all talking together.

FOSDEM - What other languages do you code in? What keeps you using Perl over ther languages ?

Dave Cross - To be honest I don't use many other languages. I use SQL to talk to databases and do a bit of work with things like Javascript and XSLT, but Perl seems to be the best choice for most of the work I do.

I think that Perl fits the way my brain works better than any other language - but I'm not sure what that says about my brain.

FOSDEM - Perl is used everywhere, for everything. Is there still enthousiasm to develop it? Where do core developers find this motivation ?

Dave Cross - To be honest, before the announcement of Perl 6 in 2000, Perl development had slowed down a lot. But the RFC process that Perl 6 went through seemed to generate a lot of new ideas. A huge number of new modules have appeared on the CPAN over the last couple of years and many of them are Perl 5 "prototypes" of new Perl 6 features.

So there's certainly a great amount of enthusiasm to continue to develop an improve Perl. We've also had a number of new (and very talented) people join the core development team. That certainly helps to keep it exciting.

FOSDEM - You've authored some Perl books like "Perl Template Toolkit" or "Data Munging with Perl"; other contributors to Free/OpenSource softwares are also writting books. Do you consider this as a recognition or an award to publish a book ?

Dave Cross - Actually, I largely consider it to be bloody hard work :-)

But I have to confess that it's nice when people tell me that they've read one of my books and have found it useful.

FOSDEM - Introduce in few words what you're going to talk about during your presentation ...

Dave Cross - I'm going to be talking about the current state of Perl, and what you can expect from Perl in the future. I said previously that it's a very exciting time to be involved with Perl and I hope to share some of that excitement with people from outside the Perl community.

FOSDEM - What are you expecting from your talk at FOSDEM and from the interactions with other developers present at the event ?

Dave Cross - I'm hoping that people will listen with an open mind and that some of them will go away deciding to give Perl a try. That's also what I intend to do at other people's talks.


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