Since I have only started learning Perl I’m not yet qualified to talk about the programming aspects of the languages.I also don’t have much experience with lot of other languages so wouldn’t try even comparing them. Here I’m only trying to state a few traits of the general Perl community and programmers, which I already started loving.
1) Perl people are passionate.
Have you ever talked to a Perl programmer? The chances are that you will start programming in Perl too. Actually I too was brought in like that by a friend. Perl Programmers love Perl more than anything in the world and will do anything to popularize it. If you are in doubt check the community.
2) The gurus are there to help you
The irc channel contains knowledgeable guys and they are always ready to help a newbie. Whenever I had doubt I visited the #perl channel in freenode and my doubts were cleared within minutes. Yesterday I saw a senior member in irc stating “:) Ha I didn’t kill a newbie”, after explaining a seemingly easy doubt for a newbie and the newbie reporting to check into the matter further. The emotion embedded in the statement was how much the Perl community want new people to come in. I don’t know if this is normal with all the programing language channels, but in #perl you are sure to be in company of prominent and great guys. It is possible that the author of the book that you following explaining your doubts.
3) Great documentation
Good documentation is available online, for download and most of the time pre installed in linux.
Documentation is rather exhaustive and you get to learn every aspect of the language from this alone. However there are also lot of printed material to assist. The Llama, Camel and Alpaca are the premium source of education in the field of Perl. The documenation got a new and nice face lift recently and is rather god looking and easily navigable.
4) Highly expressive and less restrictive language
The language is really expressive and less restrictive. There are more than one way to do things, and actually it is the motto of the language. At first a newbie may find it hard to remember all of these different techniques and also some of the language constructs may seem confusing and unnecessary. But a few days in Perl and you will start enjoying all of these and it begins to seem second language to you. For a sample of what I was saying look into the last post. For another example you will get confused (I got) that a subroutine can be called with and without a ‘&’ and you doubt why? But a couple of pages more into the Llama would tell you the reasons. And once you know the reasons, you will appreciate it, and sometimes you even wonder how in the world Larry even visualized this feature. Another thing I found in my small experience so far are two new constructs, unless and until. I haven’t seen any of these in any of the languages I have used so far.You may argue by saying it is same is made possible by adding a ‘!’ in front of ‘if’ and ‘while’. Yeah, it is true, but it is great to have those and it makes you more expressive and I’m sure Perl have more of them in stock for me.
5) Nice and humble people.
There are more but I’m stopping with this one. This is by far the most important thing I have noticed. Perl people are humble. They love their language and are passionate about them but would never belittle another languages. Most of them are well versed in many languages. Actually all of them would tell you to learn other languages too and use one which suits you. I think the confidence is from the fact that once you start coding in Perl you are unlikely to move into others. Perl is pretty addictive.