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Worth still to learn perl 5?

by Mr. Lee (Scribe)
on Dec 22, 2004 at 18:50 UTC ( #416863=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Mr. Lee has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

As a newbie, is it still worth to learn perl 5, or should I wait and jump right into perl 6 directly from the beginning?

I have been searching about the difference anyway and not much found: search results for "perl 6" are

  1. Perl 6 by kha0z
  2. Perl 6 by Ralph
  3. Perl 6 by kiat
All not that very helpful, I must admit.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by duff (Parson) on Dec 22, 2004 at 19:13 UTC

    Certainly it's worth it to learn perl5. It's not going anywhere. If Perl6 were to be released tomorrow, it would still be years before it had enough penetration to affect most perl programmers. In the mean time, Perl5 is alive and well and will continue to be supported.

    Besides, Perl6 doesn't even exist yet. An alpha compiler for Perl6 will maybe exist by the end of 2005.

    If you'd like to know what's new and different in Perl6, see Read the Apocalypses, Synopses and Exegeses.

Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by revdiablo (Prior) on Dec 22, 2004 at 19:17 UTC
    As a newbie, is it still worth to learn perl 5

    Yes, I think it absolutely is still worth learning Perl 5, for a number of reasons.

    • Perl 6 is not out yet, and probably won't be out for a while. I think it will be worth the wait, but there is still some waiting left.
    • Even when Perl 6 comes out, Perl 5 won't be going away. Perl 5 is being ported to Parrot (which is the new VM what Perl 6 will use). That means Perl 5 and Perl 6 will [theoretically] live in happy harmony with each other.
    • And even if Perl 5 was obsoleted the minute Perl 6 was released, Perl 6 is still Perl. Many things have changed, but knowing Perl 5 will give anyone a huge head start in learning Perl 6.
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by kutsu (Priest) on Dec 22, 2004 at 19:23 UTC
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by davido (Cardinal) on Dec 22, 2004 at 23:02 UTC

    Equally silly questions:

    • Is it worth it to buy a computer today when those that will be for sale two years from now will have twice the hard drive capacity?
    • Should I buy a 2005 Honda when 2006's will be introduced only 365 days from now?
    • Should I get a degree in medicine now, even though the cure for AIDS is ten years away?
    • Should I fill my gas tank at $2.29/gallon even though the spring should bring lower gas prices?
    • Should I get a haircut today even though it just keeps growing?

    The answer to any of those questions (including yours) is best given in the form of a question: Do you need it now?


      Should I fill my gas tank at $2.29/gallon even though the spring should bring lower gas prices?
      Should it? (I don't have a car, so I don't have any direct experience with gas prices, but I would guess that whole war in the middle-east and the depletion of gas reserves have more to do with the price) By the way $2.29/gallon is awfully low compared to the prices here in europe (4.6 euros per gallon, apparantly)

      Should I get a haircut today even though it just keeps growing?

      :-) I'm still waiting for my hair to be long enough to be affected by gravity.

        I'm not really sure that gas prices will be better in the spring. ...but then again I'm not entirely sure that Perl 6 will be ready by then either. ;) As for the haircuts, for some of us each new year brings us closer to the day where we no longer need them.


Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by r34d0nl1 (Pilgrim) on Dec 22, 2004 at 19:24 UTC
    "Perl 5 was my rewrite of Perl.  I want Perl 6 to be the community's rewrite of Perl and of the community."
    --Larry Wall, State of the Onion speech, TPC4

    This new version of Perl will bring, as far as I know, a lot of impressive features.
    Anyway I think that you should try to learn Perl 5 in order to get familiar with the syntax and with some features that are unique to Perl, including its flexibility.
    Anyway check out for more information as well as other Perl related sites.
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by BravoTwoZero (Scribe) on Dec 22, 2004 at 19:35 UTC

    Absolutely. It's been noted above already, but Perl 5 isn't going anywhere for a long time. I was lucky enough to start with Perl a few revisions into 5 (5.005... I think? I'm not a great Perl historian ;). I still recall a lot of "If you're using < 5, do this..." FAQ answers. And, those were around for years.

    In terms of releases for particular operating systems, 5 will be the standard for a while. I'm lumping Win32 into that as well, since Activestate isn't usually bleeding edge with the version they package. They stay within the current stable release. And, most *nix distributions (particularly including the BSDs and commercial *nixen) will have 5 in the stable branch for a long time to come.

    Given that 5.6 is still actively supported, even with the wide adoption of 5.8, it just bolsters the case for starting wit 5 even more.

    Amatuers discuss tactics. Professionals discuss logistics. And... my cat's breath smells like cat food.
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5? (deja vu)
by ybiC (Prior) on Dec 22, 2004 at 23:33 UTC
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by elwarren (Priest) on Dec 22, 2004 at 23:14 UTC
    As a newbie, is it still worth to learn perl 5, or should I wait and jump right into perl 6 directly from the beginning?
    This implies to me that you only have X units of either storage capacity or time that can be allocated to the learning of a language. You will soon learn that there is always something new.

    It is my perception that once you learn how to program, picking up another language is all the same concepts with different syntax.

    That was until I tried to learn another language recently and realized once again that I love perl because it does what I want and other languages were very strict in adhering to their styles. So maybe perl would not be a good start :-)

    I expect if you learn perl 5 it will only make it easier to pickup perl 6. Learn perl 5. You're always learning new things, and perl 6 will just be a continuation of that. If programming is really that new to you, you won't be far enough along to feel a drastic change when 6 comes along anyway. I mean that in all the best ways too.
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by chanio (Priest) on Dec 23, 2004 at 04:13 UTC
    :) I made the same question some time ago:
    • If you need perl to get a job, there is more than plenty of time to keep on using perl 5. Jobs are even more conservative than programmers. If you search for the Apache version of most of the web sites, you'll find out that most don't even aproach to Apache version 2.0.-
    • Most (freely) available Perl books refer to perl 4. (You need to read at least one Perl book).
    • What's wrong about using old functions? They should work now. But as you are starting now, you are learning the new limitations as the normal standards.

    _`(___)' __________________________
    Wherever I lay my KNOPPIX disk, a new FREE LINUX nation could be established.
Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by glwtta (Hermit) on Dec 23, 2004 at 04:44 UTC
    Also, Perl 6 (or what I've heard of it so far) scares the pants off me. It seems that Larry et al have really taken the whole "Second System Syndrome" idea to heart and have decided that Perl 6 should contain every language and syntax construct that ever existed in any language or can ever be imagined. I mean, come on, they've run out of ASCII characters and had to go to unicode for the operators, for gods' sake! :)

    It all sounds very cool, but I am having a hard time envisaging doing actual work in such a beast.

      You don't have to use the unicode ops you know. Mostly you can program in a subset of perl6 (the one that most closely resembles perl5) and add in the new stuff as you learn it or decide you really need it. The only problem will then be reading other people's code, but I think that the collective consciousness of the perl community will absorb enough perl6 to be able to help with that. :-)

        Modern text editors already allow you to read unicode, but my keyboard doesn't allow me to write unicode easily. However, the given .. where construct really excites me! Finally a real switch, and it will be much more powerful than any other language's switch.

        Our version of Rational Clearcase still uses Perl4 for scripting and it was only installed 3 years ago, when Perl was reaching version 5.6 (I think). Plus I would like to put 5.8 onto the HP-UX 10.2 boxen I work with, but 5.004 is what the code was originally written with and I don't want to mess with it too much. (Not that I haven't messed it up already :)

        How can you feel when you're made of steel? I am made of steel. I am the Robot Tourist.
        Robot Tourist, by Ten Benson

        Oh, I am not scared of learning it it, I like learning things. It just seems that one of the more common (or at least the more valid) criticisms of Perl is that its encouragement of highly individualistic coding styles makes collaborative development more difficult; and it seems that the response to that with Perl 6 is: "Oh yeah, you think that was something? Well get a load of this!"

        It's like the TIFF spec, I'm pretty sure that a random string of bytes has about a 50% chance of being a valid TIFF file, which makes writing a parser for the format quite a PITA.

Re: Worth still to learn perl 5?
by DrHyde (Prior) on Dec 24, 2004 at 20:40 UTC
    perl6 does not exist. Therefore any attempt to learn it now is both stupid and doomed to failure.

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