In the mid 1990's Perl got another spurt of growth as Web developers adopted Perl especially because of its CGI suppoert and its comparative ease of development in a web standalone world. Perl added new regular expression, directory reading, and array improvements in versions 2-4. Perl also thrived it no small part due to the lively open source community and its GNU Public License. By 1994 a new version 5 of Perl involved a complete rewrite of the language adding objects, packages and modules. In addition, the first wave of database routines were developed for connections to Oracle followed by ports of Perl 5 to Mac and Windows.
However, Perl has not been alone in prospering as TCL/TK, Python, PHP, Ruby and XSLT all have captured strong communities as the need develop quickly across platforms while integrating across systems has taxed traditional programming languages. As well language wars, just like the Browser Wars, has seen Microsoft virtually banish Java from their development and support portfolio while virtually recreating a Java-look-alike in their C#. Likewise there has been no agreement on a macro or scripting language among Unix vendors. And database vendors have not been able to agree on a standard stored procedure language though some movement through SQLJ is apparent towards a Java derivative. In the meantime, Perl lurks on the horizon with its standalone, serverside and cross platform capabilities attractive for a broader mission.
But to achieve a broader
mission, the development team that carry Perl along decided the language
needs to address 4 major sets of problems:
In the meantime, Perl 5 has been invigorated by Perl 6 developments with Unicode, basic threading and bug clean-ups in the 5.7 and 5.8 versions. The next versions, Perl 5.9 and 5.10 will add refined regular expressions, better database and XML internals, and the ability to emulate and/or directly execute some of the new Perl 6 syntax. So Perl appears to be moving in a concerted effort towrds broader appeal and functionality while continuing to develop its base engine and providing for a "smooth upgrade path". the latter is important because Microsoft fumbled that ball in a mjjor way with VisualBasic.NET making the such drastic changes to the language that no translator has yet emerged either from Microsoft or third parties that is able to port VB6 code to VB.NET (and if you have legacy VB3, VB4, or VB5 code that must be ported to VB6 and then partially converted to VB.NET by the Microsoft upgrade utility but then hand converted the rest of the way. Result-VB is dropping in usage while C#, a VB.NET superset language, continues to grow dramatically. So the Perl Pumpkings (lead developers) have to careful to usher Perl carefully through this 5 to 6 transition.
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