I did a brief hop to Vienna over the weekend to attend the Austrian Perl Workshop organized by Vienna.pm, the Perl user group of Vienna.
Turned out this was really kind of a local event and all other registrations from abroad happened to be an internal joke of some kind. Now that I think about it, I can't actually remember how I heard about the workshop in the first place. It was just noted in my calendar as something that would be interesting to go to. Anyway, most talks were announced to be in German, so I was prepared to brush up on my knowledge of the language. However many speakers decided to switch the language for the benefit of two of us who understood Perlish English better than Perlish German. Nice gesture, but my attendance there still felt a bit awkward at times.
Workshop took place at Metalab, a hacker basement a bit like Kiberpipa. Except they have way more of their projects randomly on display around the place. Felt more organized in some ways and more chaotic (in a positive sense) in others. I'm not sure how long a self-serve-pay-and-restock bar would be running in Ljubljana, even if it was equipped with an IP-connected fridge and some wall-mounted VT-100 terminal hooked up to a barcode scanner. On the other hand Kiberpipa regularly gets a new paint job (for no apparent reason) while this place has random graffiti, Cthulhu paintings and space invaders painted over peeling white paint. Anyway, Metalab would deserve a post of its own but I was unable to find someone who could actually tell me something about it first-hand. Perl Mongers just got the room for their workshop and granted I wasn't there much at their preferred time between 8:00 pm and 1:00 am.
Back to Perl, there were quite a few interesting things to hear.
Thomas Klausner showed how his company develops Perl code, from Git branching strategy to how they integrate all communication systems with IRC. He gets 10 points for being a hacker and rolling his own Twitter, even though it's a little difficult to follow without any RSS feeds or such. But that's not that unusual for a Perl hacker's blog.
Reini Urban did a showcase of the latest revision of the illustrated version of the manual that documents Perl internals, lovingly called perlguts. We also discussed his beginnings of a just-in-time compiler for Perl. A brave attempt with lots of hand-crafted assembly and I'm guessing it will someday turn into something like psyco was for Python.
Worth mentioning are also Wiki::Toolkit, a bunch of abstract tools for making Wiki-like websites and Template::Zoom, a templating system without templates (kind-of). I'm pretty sure Michael Renner's PostgreSQL replication talk was awesome as well, it's just that I understood too little of it to learn anything.
Not much was heard about Perl 6 which I found interesting but not very surprising. Its effect however was felt as its features inspired useful modules and additions to version 5.
So in the Austrian capital at least, the Perl community appears alive and well even though the greater Internet spotlight seems to have moved to other languages. Metalab looks like a wonderful place and perhaps Kiberpipa should at least attempt to make contact.