[thelist] [fwd] Perl, PHP, ASP???

deke web at master.gen.in.us
Sat May 19 05:08:49 CDT 2001

On 18 May 2001, at 22:50, Lawrence Carriere posted a message which said:

> What would be a good thing for
> a person who eventually wants to become a web developer to learn?  As I
> said, html is my expertise and it ends there.  I've noticed in my job
> searching that PHP, MySQL, Perl and Javascript come up a lot in the
> "Required Experience" area of job postings but which one would be a good
> start for someone who really knows nothing of any of these?  I need
> something that will be a good investment of my time and effort.

Perl is going to give you the best single return on the investment of
your time and effort because it's useful *off* the web as well as on. I
am constantly building "throwaway" scripts in Perl that make a job
easier - or even possible. That's what Perl was originally invented for.

Learning MySQL is probably going to be useful for a long time, as 
long as you are focusing on learning SQL, rather than on the MySQL
implementation. SQL has been around for a long time, and there is
no obvious replacement for it in sight.

PHP makes it a lot easier to do things that otherwise would require
Perl.  The problem with learning PHP is that it is a moving target.
Learning *anything* is valuable. I learned a lot in high school Latin
in the 1960s that has proven valuable to me in years since, even
though I've never met a Lat. Understanding the structure of the 
language has made me a better programmer. Learning PHP will 
give you things that will make it easier to learn whatever replaces 
PHP in a couple of years, which might be called PHP19 or might
be called something else entirely. It's very unlikely that PHP is
going to stand still.

JavaScript/Jscript/VBscript/ECMAscript has a couple of problems,
one being a lack of standardization, and the other being fundamental
unreliability because users can and do turn it off. If there are two
ways to solve a problem, solving it server-side is going to work 
*much* better than solving it client-side, because you have more
control. Unfortunately, there are problems that really ought to be 
solved client side.

Having *answered* your question, perhaps it's important to *question*
the question. There are probably few on this list who have been able
to separate those technologies from each other. In building websites,
we've picked up a little here, a little there. It sounds like Don Quixote,
jumping on his horse and riding off in all directions at once - but it
takes a great diversity of skills to be a good webmaster; being great
in one technology and terrible in all others is not nearly so desirable 
as being passing good in all of them.  


 "The church is near but the road is icy; 
  the bar is far away but I will walk carefully." 
                            -- Russian Proverb

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