A Learning Perl reader asked me for some advice in private email. After I typed it out I felt like posting it for everyone. He graciously let me use his questions and my answers.
1. I wish to use Perl on Windows, is it a good combination (from a career perspective)?
Although Windows can be a pain, and not just because of Perl, there are plenty of people who need to get things done on Windows. With the Win32:: modules, you can hook into the same APIs. I think you can even use Perl from Powershell.
2. Would the knowledge I’ll gain after self-training for Perl be useful for a long time?
You always have to keep learning. Perl is just a language and you can get almost anything done with it, but the more valuable thing is knowledge about the problem you’re trying to solve.
“Useful” is a harder thing to judge because it mostly depends on what you are doing. Perl can do quite a bit, but I find that “useful” is related to what non-Perl libraries I can access through Perl.
I don’t think you can go wrong at least learning Perl and practicing it for a couple of years. Some of the experience you gain there you can transfer to another language. It’s same the other way around, too, since the more experience you have as a programmer the easier new languages should be for you.
3. How does one figure out a niche for himself in this hugely spread-out world of Perl?
I find something that’s not getting done and take ownership of it. Something out there is being neglected. Just keep plugging away at something boring and unexciting. Running a local user group is good for that.