Finding a shared vision of Perl
Mon, 05-Jul-2021 by
*Published on behalf of author: Andrew Solomon*
The Perl Foundation (TPF) is conducting research to identify the shared values of the Perl community, and their vision of the Perl ecosystem in years to come. The goal is to provide information on which TPF, community groups, and individuals can make informed decisions and plans for the future.
In this blog we’ll explain why this research is needed, what we have learned so far, how we’re collecting the data, and the next steps.
## Why are we doing this research?
The Perl ecosystem is a complex, diverse group of people and communities with an equally diverse set of views and values. However each part of this ecosystem has limited awareness of the other parts. One of these parts is TPF which has been established to support Perl through fundraising, marketing, and governance. With a clearer understanding of the Perl ecosystem, TPF and all Perl communities will be able to make better decisions regarding their goals and processes.
## What have we learned so far?
From the explanation above, it's clear that this research is in its early stages, however we do have the following points on which to do more detailed research. The ideas are all relevant to everyone but they've been categorized into those parties who should lead ongoing research and actions to be taken.
For the Perl Steering Council who support the maintenance of the Perl core:
* Regular expressions are an important part of Perl
* The TIMTOWTDI (aka "Tim Toady" meaning "There Is More Than One Way To Do It") philosophy is both a benefit and a source of conflict
* There are very diverse views on the importance of new features vs backward compatibility across versions of Perl. To this they responded:* "...it has long been a source of tension: pushing the language forward versus backward compatability. We’ve been through a painful year, but we’ve come through it with a clear statement of values that says we don’t want to break any running code, unless there’s a good reason. And we’ve also made it clear that we want to drive the language forward, and there’s real appetite for that, I feel."*
For TPF and affiliated Perl communities:
* There is a desire for communication, collaboration, diversity and inclusivity
* There is a dwindling visibility/importance of Perl in the broader technical community
* There should be an improved public image and branding
* The Perl ecosystem has conflict and noise with no shared mission statement
* There is a lack of leadership
* "Freedom of speech" and "Code of conduct" were both seen as important
* The Perl Foundation should be governed through democracy and paid membership with increased transparency
* Marketing should focus on highly regarded modules such as DBIx::Class, Mojo, Dancer, Plack...
* There should be an increase in funding for communities and projects
* There should be support for collaboration between communities and industry
* IDEs are important for early career Perl developers
* CPAN is falling behind on various sectors such as data science
For communities and companies
* There should be more training services and learning materials
* There is a sense that the community is small and shrinking
* The communities need more visibility, and should build their own Perl community brands
* There is a sparsity of Perl SDK support by API service providers (e.g. AWS) *[A service provider will invest in a Perl SDK if there's evidence - or potential - of a large number of Perl systems integrating their service -- Ed.]*
## Our Methodology
Being at an early stage, this research is exploratory. We presented a series of seed questions and used the innovative Gobby platform for participants to share their own thoughts on what needs to be addressed.
These seed questions were:
* What’s your connection with Perl and its ecosystem?
* What do you see as the Perl ecosystem’s core values and initiatives?
* What are your future aspirations for Perl?
* What do you perceive are the main challenges of unifying the Perl community, culture, and governance with a shared vision?
* As an individual, how might you support Perl in the future?
* How could Perl community groups contribute to our long term goals?
* How can The Perl Foundation help the community achieve their long term goals?
One of the interesting features of [Gobby](https://gobby.io/) is that participants can vote for other peoples' responses with the effect of moving them higher up the list when viewed by the next participants. However, the number of votes should not be used as part of a quantitative analysis because:
* one person could have filled the survey in multiple times;
* many statements could have multiple interpretations; and
* the most insightful statement may have been added by the last person filling in the survey
## What's next?
The points above provide a clear set of issues to explore in more detail and work out the best approach to improving things. The next step is to work out the importance of the various issues and how to address them. The TPF will continue to help identify the desired outcomes and provide communities with support to reach these goals.
If you'd like to see the raw data from which this information has been collected, [click here](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18syqGFnko9Tz8thMbdGae4OBKr7gLf5mMziUSSmqnRQ/edit?usp=sharing). If you'd like to get involved, please email [email@example.com](mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org).