From: Steve Kinzler To: Víctor A. Rodríguez Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2006 13:50:01 -0500 Subject: Re: A tiny interview for Argentina's Perl Monger Group Sent 16Feb06 from victor to kinzler +--------- Re: A tiny interview for Argentina's Perl Monger Group --------- | - Please Steve, introduce yourself to the CaFe.pm group Thank you, it's my honor and pleasure to do so. I've been programming Perl as a central part of my job for about 17 years now, first for system administration at Indiana University, and now for Web/Internet applications at the University of Michigan. I also taught it as part of a course I developed at IU in 1996. Perl is, in short, as a colleague once called it, the "language of the gods". No other language I know of can bring us closer to the creative joy and cognitive alchemy inherent in computer programming. I also have a bit of notoriety in certain circles for creating and running the Internet Oracle <www.internetoracle.org> and some other projects dating back to my younger days <www.kinzler.com>. In fact, a Spanish-language Oracle was established in Argentina after I visited there, though I'm not sure about its current status. | - Which one was your motivation to build "vshnu" ?? This goes way back. I started on Unix in 1982 with Bell Labs Version 7. One day we got a tape of cool software from Berkeley to add on. There, along with a new shell called "csh", was a screen-oriented shell called "vsh". I switched from "sh" to these two. Fast forward 18 years ... "csh" has prospered and evolved into "tcsh", but "vsh" is lost and forgotten by all except by me. I didn't want to give it up, but the source code was so obsolete it wasn't possible for me to keep porting it to modern systems. Also, I'd collected many improvements to the ideas of "vsh". So I set aside my laziness and tackled a completely new reimplementation. After some preliminary experiments, I knew Perl would suite the task very well, even though it would be rather unconventional. I decided to try to make this project my Perl masterpiece (the success of which I'll leave to others to judge). | - Did you get some help from other Open Source projects ?? (code, | advice, manpower, etc.) Of course -- no open source project is created in a vacuum. But the vshnu project is trying to reclaim some lost territory and expand and reintroduce it, so the help was more in terms of tools, environment and borrowed ideas than code, advice or manpower. | - What skills (Perl related or not) did you gain while you build "vshnu" ?? Having learned Perl with Perl 3 and 4, I was very late to adapt to the new styles and conventions of Perl 5. With vshnu, I really tried to write it the Perl 5 way, though I expect plenty of the old styles linger. | - What advice will you give to the wanna be designers and hobbists | facing a new project ?? That depends a lot on one's personality. For me, the vision of the project is what drives me and gets me into and through the project despite its scope and standards being daunting. I imagine for some others just diving in and working a lot with others and letting it evolve dynamically would be another approach. Of course, keep it fun and rewarding. | - In which parts of the code you will advice to the novice Perl coder to | look at, in order to have a very pleasant learning experience ? No particular part comes to mind. I'd suggest skimming both of the two source files (vshnu and vshnucfg.pl) and finding whatever catches curiosity or interest. My Perl style gives a lot of attention to creative code layout and vertical alignment, which I find helps in creating correct code and providing aesthetic satisfaction, although it can often break "best practices" rules. | - How can anyone colaborate with "vshnu" ?? Contributions and collaborations in any form are welcome, of course. There are areas underattended just because I personally don't encounter them, such as integrations with other command-line shells, and command actions on file types that I don't work with. There's opportunity for improved design in the keys and commands. Also, since mouse event recognition is now present, the whole area of mouse commands and actions is open for design and implementation. More documentation would be very useful, too. | - What features you think are missed, and which ones will you add soon ?? Besides the mouse support just mentioned, I'm working on improving the help system -- grouping and titling the commands by related function, and generating a reference guide (including one's personal customizations). I'm also considering per-directory options and listing subsorts, as well as some other miscellaneous ideas. | - What similitudes/differences do you find with similar projects ?? While I suppose vshnu could be compared with Midnight Commander, Emacs' dired or some others, I think of it as different enough in design and approach as to be in a category by itself so far. Vshnu's integration with a regular command line shell like bash or tcsh is important, since you don't want to have to lose anything by using vshnu -- it should just add on power to what you're already doing. I still do as much in tcsh as I do in vshnu, and work with them as two modes of one shell environment. | - What limits did Perl impose to the project ?? Limits? Perl? Does not compute. | - Any opinion or advice regarding Perl 6 ?? Those who love Perl can now love it magnitudes more. Those who hate Perl can now hate it magnitudes more. About those working on it -- let them take all the time they need, and bless their souls. | - Any favorite CPAN module ? Hmmm, I'd be in trouble without Mail::Audit to filter my email. | - Any favorite Perl programmer, advocate or community member ?? Larry Wall, of course. Randal Schwartz for writing the Internet Oracle email vote parsing script for me over lunch, the study of which got me over the hump of Perl's learning curve and onto the Perl path ever since. Damian Conway for genius lunacy and showing us there are no limits. | - Do you have a Perl Group in your location ?? (if yes, please provide | an URL to their site) <annarbor.pm.org>, though I don't know if it's currently active. | - Do you participate in any Perl Group ?? I made it to OSCON in Portland last year, where Perl is still a central topic. Highly recommended -- both the convention and the city. (O'Reilly's annual Perl convention has evolved into its annual Open Source convention (OSCON)). | - Anything else that you want to tell us and we haven't asked you ?? I would reiterate my thanks to Víctor and CaFe.pm for letting me share these comments about Perl and vshnu. My best wishes for the success of your group and all your Perl projects. Steve Kinzler -- from the brain of Steve Kinzler /o)\ an organ with a mind of its own \(o/ www.kinzler.com Crookneck Polaris / theretofore imitative / prudential Beguine.