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From Neil Gunton <n...@nilspace.com>
Subject Re: Some philosophical questions
Date Tue, 26 Jul 2005 15:07:36 GMT
Lars Kelto wrote:
> 
>> I think that PHP is a lot easier to install and use for the average 
>> user/programmer.  Maybe more importantly, it is easier to install PHP 
>> apps on an ISP's server.  Embperl is easy to install, but mod_perl can 
>> be tricky and you have to be somewhat of a guru to understand it and 
>> use it's power.  That is why PHP's popularity is growing much more 
>> rapidly than mod_perl.
> 
> 
>   I agree.  PHP solves small problems fast, is implemented and learned 
> quickly, and is widely supported.  I think of mod_perl/embperl as my 
> 'power tools' for my projects with dedicated servers and need for robust 
> applications, which is most of them.
> 
>   A good question might be, is there anything we can do to encourage 
> support for mod_perl/embperl on hosts?  Also, could we assemble a list 
> of hosts who are known to support them well?  Someone interested in 
> trying embperl may be more likely to choose it if finding a host is easier.

That's a good point. Another question that occurs to me is, How many *new* programmers (i.e.
young 
and learning about new stuff) are turning to mod_perl and Embperl? It seems to me that most
people 
using these tools started programming a while back. The sign of health for a technology is
how many 
new, young programmers it is attracting, rather than how many older, experienced ones it already
has.

PHP and Java both appear to be a fait accomplis, they have already achieved dominance in the
same 
way that MySQL has already achieved dominance over PostgreSQL, even though it appears that

PostgreSQL may be the more robust and complete solution (though I admit I haven't had time
to 
investigate this myself, it's just what I hear repeated over and over by PostgreSQL people).

I think that people looking for the simpler, "beginner" solution turn to PHP, whereas the
heavier, 
"enterprise" users tend to go to Java. So maybe mod_perl/Embperl is stuck somewhere in between
in a 
kind of no mans land, perceived neither as beginner nor enterprise level. That's a shame,
since we 
all know there really isn't anything that Java can do that mod_perl/Embperl can't. But I don't
want 
to be in the position of sour old programmer crying into his beer about how he "coulda been
a 
contender" but backed the wrong horse. I'm increasingly getting nervous about basing my programming

experience on something that seems to not have the mindshare in up and coming young programmers.

I know from history that it's not always the "better" solution that is successful, but rather
the 
one that makes itself easier to use, more accessible to new users, and just all round simpler.
I 
don't really see what is so hard about installing mod_perl, because most Linux distributions
of 
apache seem to include mod_perl in the package list, along with php. However, you're right
that 
third party hosts perhaps do not include it as much. Or if they do, then people using a shared

server (without root access) won't be as able to install their own perl modules - I experienced
this 
myself just last week, when I had to do a little search engine for someone. I wasn't able
to install 
Embperl on the server, so I ended up using a small cgi instead (it gets little traffic, so
the 
efficiency thing doesn't really matter all that much). PHP was available by default, of course.

Advocacy for tools like mod_perl and Embperl may be a way to go, but it can't really replace
"buzz" 
in the developer community. I think we lost a lot of that "buzz" when we (as a developer community)

took a massive time out to develop the incompatible Versions 2 of Apache and mod_perl. People
kept 
hearing that it wasn't ready yet, and so they used something else. But that's not the main
reason, I 
think. PHP just gained mindshare because it was so simple and cheerful. It's a lesson to geeks
who 
think all that matters is technical superiority. If we spent more time making our projects
easy to 
use and accessible to new users, rather than adding obscure, complex new features that hardly

anybody uses, then maybe our projects would be more widely adopted.

Just my opinion!

-Neil

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