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Choosing Your Next Programming Job — Perl Or .NET? 426

Trebonius asks: "I have just received two job offers in the same day. The first was for a job coding in Perl on Linux/UNIX platforms, for a small but very cool company around 120 miles from where I live. They play Half-Life together in the off-hours and the people I've talked to there seem very happy with the job and work environment there. I'd be making smallish web systems, and I'd basically have total control over the projects on which I work. They offered me 20% more than I make now. The second offer I received is for a huge nationwide company opening an IT office a couple blocks from where I currently work. They're an all-Microsoft shop — VB, C#, .NET, SQL200*, etc. I'd be a very small cog in a very large machine. They offered me 66% more than I'm making now. Benefits are essentially identical between the companies, so that's not a big factor. I'll also give the Perl company a chance to make me another offer, but what should the threshold be? How do you folks balance the desire for a fun job with the need to pay off debt?"
Most of my work experience is in Microsoft development, though not by choice. It was my first job out of college. In my own time, I run Linux, write in PHP, Perl, MySQL, etc. I don't like developing in .NET much, but I'm used to it, and the money's good.

How do I choose? The money issue is huge, of course, and I think I'd much prefer the Perl job in terms of development preference and work environment. However, I've got the impression that Perl web development doesn't have the future potential in the professional world that .NET has. A search of Dice shows a lot more .NET jobs. Would taking the Perl job hurt my prospects in the future?"
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Choosing Your Next Programming Job — Perl Or .NET?

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  • .NET (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cnowacek ( 936925 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:29AM (#16782761)
    Take the money and run, my friend.
  • by Neeth ( 887729 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:32AM (#16782775) Homepage
    Would taking the Perl job hurt my prospects in the future?
    By asking this question it seems that you value prospects over fun in what you do. If that is the case, go for the .Net job. However. If you are a good programmer I don't think you have anything to worry about; you will be able to fit into any programmingjob now, or in the future. I'd go for the Perl job and worry about prospects later.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:34AM (#16782785)
    perl prospects: (near enough) Zero

    .net prospects: Much better


    I've never, ever, seen a perl programmer making a huge amount of money, but with .net senior positions and architect positions are common place.

    Take the .net one - if you feel like doing perl you can do it in your spare time.

  • by NeuralAbyss ( 12335 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:35AM (#16782787) Homepage
    If you wouldn't be happy in the .net job, don't take it. Unless you're in serious debt, it's better to go for the job you'd be happier in. Personally, I'd set the limit at a minimum of a 35% increase (as opposed to 66%) for the Perl job.

    Do what makes you happy. It'll pay off in the long-run, and you typically gain more contacts that way for future jobs.
  • Tricky (Score:5, Insightful)

    by not_a_product_id ( 604278 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:35AM (#16782795) Journal
    I suppose the 2 biggest things if I was looking at this would be:
    Future prospect
    Money
    The perl shop sounds cool but from your research it looks like the .Net/MS stuff give you better prospects (but it might be worth looking into what kind of work you'll have - not worth it to make shitty changes to shitty code). The money depends on your situation. 66% would seem to beat 20% but if you're pretty happy with your current salary then it might not be such a big issue for you.
    Got to admit - wish I had your problem (currently slaving away with Oracle Forms - shudder...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:36AM (#16782807)
    Vasectomy, or frontal lobotomy.

  • Follow your heart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnool ( 1005253 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:37AM (#16782817)
    It seems to me that your heart is set on the Perl job. Are you waiting for someone to give you permission to choose the lower paying job that you think you'd enjoy more? Life's too short, go for the Perl job, you know you want to :-D
  • Money != Happiness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pedestrian crossing ( 802349 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:37AM (#16782819) Homepage Journal

    For me, being happy doing my job is worth a lot. I've recently switched from a job that paid a lot, but the environment and management really sucked. Now I'm working part-time, making about 25% of what I was making at the other job but the environment is great.

    Life isn't really that long, you need to do what makes you happy, as long as you are not starving. Going to a job you don't like every day is a mistake if there are more personally rewarding alternatives.

  • by hatrisc ( 555862 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:40AM (#16782843) Homepage
    either platform, but I'd consider the PERL job way before the .NET job. If you're working in a computing environment you like and are in a good company, I'd think it's a much better situation than corporate nightmare on windows. Is the .NET company a place where you wouldn't be able to install software package A because their IT department is overworked and can't support all software?
  • by oakbox ( 414095 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:41AM (#16782849) Homepage
    I have worked for large corporations (22,000 employee bank) and very small companies (12 people) and my personal preference is to work with small groups of people who are fired up by interests similar to mine and who are good fits personality-wise.
    The big company was more financially secure, carried more prestige, and offered great and solid retirement options. On the other side, it was next to impossible to affect change, my contributions (while recognized in the form of raises and titles) didn't really make a big difference to the overall picture. Even coming up with a system that saved 1.2 million a year in expenses warranted only an 'attaboy'. Because, in a company controlling 60 billion in assets, 1.2 million isn't really that big a deal!
    The small company offered much more freedom, personal responsibility, and allowed me to make a direct and substantial impact on the bottom line of the whole company. I was in direct communication with the owner of the company, not to a manager with a senior manager with an executive with an executive vp to the CEO.

    Best advice: Play to your strengths and go with work that motivates you. You will spend about 60% of your life at work. You should spend that time doing things that motivate, inspire, and energize you.

    - Oakbox

    disclaimer: I am a programmer for career coaches :)
  • by Da Fokka ( 94074 )

    You assume Perl programming is more fun than programming in .NET. This may be true for you but it's defintely not true for everyone. I like to develop in .NET and I like Visual Studio [1].

    But I think that the main factor in determining if your job is fun is not necessarily the language and/or platform. It's what you're developing what counts. At home, I'm working on NXT#, a Mindstorms NXT library for C# [fokke.net]. It's a lot of fun and it would also be fun if I was developing the library in Perl. (of course then the

  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:44AM (#16782871)
    [ ] Perl
    [ ] .NET
    [x] Death by ooga booga
  • How bad is the debt? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kjart ( 941720 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:44AM (#16782877)
    How do you folks balance the desire for a fun job with the need to pay off debt?

    This seems to be the crux of it, at least to me. Debt can seriously limit your options, now and in the future. If the debt you refer to is significant, taking the higher paying job now and resolving that issue would probably let have more freedom in picking your workplace in the future. If you are debt-free taking a job for less money but which is more interesting is surprisingly more palatable than if the bank is knocking down the door :)

  • by emilper ( 826945 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:46AM (#16782889)
    try to install a linux distribution for PCs without the Perl packages and see if it will work ...

    as far as I can see, the demand is not great, but quite stable ... for better or worse, Perl5 is the next COBOL ;) meaning there are huge custom apps built with Perl that won't be replaced in a hurry
  • by cornjones ( 33009 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:46AM (#16782891) Homepage
    You didn't mention how close the .net job was. 120 miles is more than 2 hours each way. That is brutal especially if there aren't public transport options. You didn't mention if you have the ability to move easily or if you are tied to your current living arragnements. This alone would make my decision.

    perl vs .net? .net is more marketable in the corp world, there is no doubt about that. .net seems to be only picking up steam in the marketplace and there doesn't look like anything is around to unseat it in the forseeable future. Still, you could easily make a good career out of perl and open source and (generally) smaller projects. You stated yourself that the perl job seems to be more casual and closer knit group, hanging out outside of work and what not. If you are new to the area or don't have a close group that may be very valuable.

    Where do you see yourself in 10 years? master of a domain of programmers building large systems? go .net. Running a small internet/web consulting shop, doing various smaller scale web sites? perl will be fine. This job is most likely a stepping stone down a path. think farther down the path a bit.

    The best thing to do is to take a couple of your close friends out tomorrow night and spend the evening getting loaded. Don't talk about this the whole time but bring up your concerns now and then. get good and drunk and when you wake up in the morning, you will know which way to go. the subconcious is a beautiful thing. seems odd but me and my friends have been doing this for major decisions for a long time now and i am still amazed out how well it works.
  • by mosel-saar-ruwer ( 732341 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:48AM (#16782905)

    Even coming up with a system that saved 1.2 million a year in expenses warranted only an 'attaboy'.

    Okay, either:

    1) Your manager [or your chain of management] was/were completely incompetent bozos, or else

    2) Unbeknownst to you, THEY took the credit [with the higher-ups] for the 1.2 million in savings, and THEY pocketed the year-end performance bonuses.

    Or maybe some combination of 1) & 2) above.

  • For me, carreers are about long term goals.

    The Perl shop - will you be happier there? Are you planning to move, and if so do youlike the area/can afford it? Does the company have long tem prospects? Will it likely stay this size, or grow. (Grow means more opportunities, but also that the culture may change.) Will you get to play with technology that interests you and has a future applications.

    The Windows shop - same basic questions. Take out moving, add in how much you'll be working undr others/follow
  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:51AM (#16782923) Homepage
    Money is nice, but a pleasant life is better.
  • by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:51AM (#16782931) Homepage Journal
    My own personal and highly subjective opinion of this is -
    don't worry too much about making strategic choices. I think as programmers, we all have a small nagging worry that one of the technologies we didn't pick is going to dominate the market, and cause our hardwon skills to become obsolete. But no matter how hard you study and try to keep up, that worry is never going to go away. If you pick .Net, you are going to worry that Java is going to continue its dominance, if you spend all your spare time mastering .Net, Java AND Perl to hedge your bets, well, it might be a new framework in Ruby or Python that all the cool kids are talking about next year. But if you are skilled enough, there is always going to be some jobs available in your favourite language, and you are probably going to pick up the new technology fairly quickly if you have to.

    Pick a technology you like. If you get a job in it, fantastic. You are having fun, and you are earning money, and getting experience. Now, you can spend some time reading up on other languages, but if I were you, I'd concentrate on enjoying life.

    Now, the remaining question of what to value most - the money or the job enjoyment, that you can only answer yourself, and is the very essence of an economic transaction.
  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:52AM (#16782933) Homepage Journal
    How do I choose? The money issue is huge, of course, and I think I'd much prefer the Perl job in terms of development preference and work environment.
    I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I did myself.

    When I first started working, I was doubting between programming and network security. I couldn't find a job in the latter, so I choose a big company (Oracle). I invested heavily into Java (which is what Oracle does), but it wasn't really what I wanted. After three years, I went to look elsewhere.

    I found out that when you've invested in some specific area, people start assuming that's what you want to continue investing in. Every recruiter, every interviewing manager had the opinion that I was most useful in the Java field.

    But that's not what I wanted. After a brief stint as "just another Java developer", I found the job I wanted: programming C and Perl at an institute which develops instruments (like infra-red sensors) for climate and space research. However, it was very hard and based on my experience alone I shouldn't have gotten the job.

    My advice: you should choose whatever you're most comfortable with, because it's an investment into your future. Others will say, "but, a good CS student can program in any language/environment". It's true, but that's NOT how most people see it who might have to employ you.

    As for your debt: you can quickly pay that off by continuing to keep expenses as though you were a student. Don't start buying too expensive cars, don't buy crazy gadgets, don't invest in silly hardware, and make sure to get a girlfriend who doesn't have a hole in her hand (or at least, one who has a smaller hole than you have).
  • My 2 pence... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Prez_n_Tenz ( 961802 )
    If you can afford it, do what you like better. In the long run you'll probably make more doing what you like (it's why the rich get richer).

    If not, take the money and run. Nothin beats cash.

    Technology is largely irrelevant....just ask the guys who made a killing doing COBOL while everyone else migrated to C++.

  • At first glance, I was going to disagree with this, but after thinking about it, I have to agree with the parent post. If you enjoy what you do it is likely that you will put in the extra effort and time to be very good at it, which will be noticed (eventually).

    As for the debt, it is vital that you pay it off as quickly as possible. Once you see the results of a compound interest calculation, you don't forget it. Also, your commute is going to be a big factor; 120 miles is at least 2 hours drive time, wh
  • by Toreo asesino ( 951231 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:02AM (#16782995) Journal
    Doing .NET is actually good fun believe it or not; assuming you can use c# rather than any of the others (VB comes to mind). Also, bear in mind that .NET covers a multitude of sins - WWW, WinForms, Pocket PCs - not just the web, so any experience gained from the job is transferable to a degree.
  • Freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by A Friendly Troll ( 1017492 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:04AM (#16783007)
    You probably haven't thought of one thing: freedom.

    In the large company, you will be locked to a regular user account. You won't get to install unapproved software (this includes your favourite text editors, browsers, music players, etc).

    They might run some sort of software metering service, perhaps even keyloggers.

    You will access the net through IE (which I'm sure is the official company browser), and their proxy might have half the net blocked.

    You will probably be locked into using Outlook.

    There will be all sorts of crap on your PC (since it's going to be a company-wide standard image); perhaps even something like McAfee AV, which happily chews away on 70-80 MB of RAM and makes things unbearable.

    If your workstation is lacking RAM or other hardware, you're going to have to file a ton of paperwork and have it signed by 10 different people until you get the stuff half a year later... If you get it.

    Also, it's very possible that your movement through the building will be monitored. Cameras everywhere, and your ID card will log the exact moment you get to work and leave it. Your lunch break will be exactly 60 minutes. You won't be able to go outside for a two-hour walk in spring if you feel like it and if you have nothing more important to do.

    You will work with drones, not people. Mostly incompetent drones.

    Listening to music will probably be forbidden, thought you might sneak in some headphones and find out you don't hear your phone ringing when you have them on, and if you make the music quieter, you won't be able to listen to it from the phones ringing (catch 22).

    (Disclaimer: I work in a large company. I do have admin access and unrestricted internet access, but I had to buy RAM by myself, and I'm still waiting for a new monitor - on my desk is an old 17" curved CRT.)
  • by john_lear ( 546251 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:04AM (#16783009)
    The small company, while cool, has a lot of risks associated with it. Not least of which is that small companies tend to offer less security and coupled with the fact that you would have to move house, I would think long and hard about whether this all makes sense. If you did move and the Perl shop went down the pan in six months say, would it be easy to find alternative work in this new town/city? Or would you find yourself moving back to where you live now? Of course the bigger company will not be immune from 'downsizing' either. Has this happened at all recently? How do the two companies compare in terms of their financials?
  • Would you move (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:04AM (#16783013)
    You Mentioned that the other job is 120 Miles away from your current one. Assuming you live close to work, that is an extra 4 hours a day of Commuting! Much more if you live in a place like the Bay area where the average Highway speed is 35MPH.. If your not willing to relocate, or if the Perl Job is in a more expensive area, it seems like that would be a huge step backwards from having a life outside of work!
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
    I would personally choose the .NET last, but that's because I have, and am using..and i hate it.
  • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

    Thats easy: a vasectomy means never having to worry about children. A frontal lobotomy on the other hand would be like having to program in VB all day.
  • by HappyHead ( 11389 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:18AM (#16783079)
    One thing to consider is this - how often has perl been completely overhauled and replaced with something more or less incompatible with itself in the last 15 years, compared to how often the MS platform of preference has been completely overhauled and replaced with something more or less incompatible with itself?
    Perl vs Perl vs Perl compares well to VB vs VBScript vs J++ vs VB.Net vs C# vs whatever is next
    Remember that if you're going into the MS programming job, you're going to have to re-learn every new language MS comes out with to stay relevant to your job as they "switch over" to the latest greatest thing the marketing people have pushed on you, and some of them may only be there for a few months before you once again must switch over to the new latest buzz-word compliant new toy.

    What you really need to ask yourself is, "Is the added stress of the impersonal environment and having to re-do all of my work in a slightly different language every 3 to 18 months worth the extra money?"
    If the answer is yes, then go for the .Net, and remember to keep up with the latest MS programming languages or you'll be laid off as irrelevant. Big companies won't be bothered giving you time to train in whatever new system they want to use when they can always just hire a fresh batch of new graduates who only know that language.
  • Similar experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DLG ( 14172 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:18AM (#16783081)
    I preface this by noting I have been working in IT and data processing for 18 years now, with an uncountable number of clients at this point, so I have seen a lot.

    Here are a few points:
    Programming and technology is rarely the primary challenge in any job whether its a short term contract or a fulltime position (and my father who has been in the business for 40 years pointed out that there is no such thing as a short term contract or a fulltime position.) You can make a lot of money very quickly doing stupid work with annoying people. You can work very hard with a great team, and end up with very little to show. Commuting can be exhausting, relocations can be frustrating, and all in all things that start off well can turn bad and vice versa.

    That being said, we no longer live in the world of working for the same company for 50 years. Consider it a learning experience one way or the other.

    And lets be honest. A few years working in a big iron shop or whatever the equivalent is, using the enterprise standard, within an organizational structure is going to teach you a great deal about the industry, beyond the technical.

    There are alot of variables. Flexibility of schedule, telecommuting, whichone is going to leash you with a beeper fulltime, which one is going to get you into new technologies, and force you to think for a living.

    I recently got two jobs in the same week, one programming and one heading Network Ops and I had billed out the second one at considerably more, but chose the first one because the reason I had priced the network stuff so high was because I knew it would be more punishing and less rewarding.

    Do I think, 'Hey the 100 bucks a day extra might be nice?' Yeah. But I have worked both type of jobs, and I noticed that when I get paid more to work in a miserable situation, it gets harder to save, since I need to spend the money I make on keeping me happy. While if I wake up in the morning and the only thing that bugs me is that it takes too long to get into the office to try out this new idea I woke up with, well.... You get my drift.

    Again though, and its been said, there will be other jobs. You never know what happens. My dad became a VP for a bank after years as a consultant and they did an early retirement buyout in 8 months.

    I went into my last long term contract as a database analyst and left as an expert in VoIP, having been fired by my new boss after 3 years of big raises, because he wanted to shift in his own staff...

    Also, don't worry too much about languages. I have been in shops where they are gungho about .NET and I have been in shops where the last boss was gungho about .NET and everyone pities the 2 programmers who are still forced to work in that environment (and I am not dissing .NET really. I just mean that preferences change.)

    Good luck! Congrats on having this as your difficult choices in life.

  • by xutopia ( 469129 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:20AM (#16783097) Homepage
    In the Perl company:
    • hackers make technical choices
    • you use open and free software
    • you'll most likely have people like you who understand you
    • the projects you'll take on will have more chance to be difficult technically because the people giving you the work know what the languages and you can do

    In the .NET company

    • business people make technical choices
    • the stuff you'll be asked to do will probably be simple (which means boring) because business people know as little as they can get away with of the technical side of things

    I just left a .NET company to work for a php/perl/python/ruby company. At one place I had trouble getting up in time (had to be at work for 9am). Now I get up at 5 in the morning to get to work ASAP.

  • quality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by namekuseijin ( 604504 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:22AM (#16783113)
    I'd go for quality of life: less coding, more freedom and some fun at the job.

    Why would you want a job at a megacorporation in what will be probably a very stressful work environment and coding in one of those ironclad languages with layers upon layers of redundant abstractions and frameworks that in the end do exactly the same as ten lines of Perl?

    money isn't worth it.
  • You forgot the "Job Interest" factor, which is about 0 for the .Net job, and about very high for the Perl one.

    I, for one, would probably pick the Perl job. I'd much better work in a cool environment and have an interesting job being actually part of something than having a shitty job in a crappy environment, even if it pays more.

  • The future? It's wise to save just in case anything unexpected happens. And if you're lucky enough to not have anything happen to you for your entire working life, it's extra money to do things when you're retired.
  • Nothin beats cash.

    I fully disagree, if I spend 60% to 70% of my waking hours at my job, I do want to like it (the job itself, the environment, the management, ...), because I sure as hell don't want to hate what i spend more than 9h/day doing.

    This is more important than money.

    Money is just a convenience, liking what you do is a sanity requirement.

  • Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noz ( 253073 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:30AM (#16783167)
    Two tradeoffs exist: income; and career vs fun.

    Income: if you do not need the money, then you do not need the money. Three hours work pays my weekly rent (and I am not earning executive dollars) because I am comfortable in a smallish flat near (not on) the beach.

    Fun vs career: there's a lot of crap about how cool is required in a job (*cough* Google *cough*). Work is survival for almost all people, and any child of immigrant parents knows the discipline they had to endure shit jobs.

    If you need the money or a stronger career path, take the 66% increase. Either way, two job offers is a lot more than most people have. Good for you.
  • Not true. .Net is only a set a libraries and a sandbox for running CLR images. The only new language Microsoft have introduced is c#, which is the preferred language for developing in (as it was written for the .NET framework, and so doesn't come with any 'legacy baggage' like many of the others do).
    Because of this fact, it is entirely possible to write .NET code in any other language - as long as it boils down to MSIL code at the end. For example, check - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_.NET_Langu a [wikipedia.org]
  • I would like to second this. When I graduated, job prospects were few and far between (mostly because of the economy of the time and me being a new graduate with little experience). So I tried to get an interview for pretty much any IT job that I was remotely interested in. I got a job with a company that did Oracle Forms, not what I wanted to do. After that, I got tons of emails from recruiters for jobs that did Forms development. Fortunately I found a company that does PHP/mysql development which is more
  • As long as your subjective level of "needs" are comfortably taken care of, money is not really very relevant to how happy either job will make you. Trying to outguess the future is even less so.

    Choose what you'll enjoy, and keep your mind flexible. If you plan to stay in the tech field, keep learning new interesting technologies. Focus on what's interesting, and you'll easily be able to pick up the not-so-interesting stuff that the industry keeps throwing at us.

    As for debt... maybe it's a cultural thin

  • Money/Fun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:41AM (#16783255) Journal
    Part of the answer lies in your life situation. For me, (married, two kids in school, wife in school), it would be a total no-brainer - the closer job with more money. I could use the money and I wouldn't have to move my family.

    However, if I were 25 and single, I would definitely go for the hip/more interesting job. Control of your own project is much more important, overall, than the specific technology you are using, because it gives you an opportunity to look at the big picture issues - architecture, design choices, hardware constraints, etc. That will serve you very well in the long run even if you later end up using another language.

  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:41AM (#16783259)
    We're a small shop. If I can write code once, on a stable platform, and keep it away from Microsoft's API of the week - great. Whenever possible, that means web-based applications. For things where that is not practical, and that is getting smaller, I have had great success with Python as a application environment. Compiling natively provides good speed, and with the toolkits out there it's easy to jump across platforms.

    Java offers similar advantages, but I find the GUI code overly complicated for what I want to do.

    The answer is different depending on what you want to do, but this is a trend I am noticing more and more.
  • perl or .net? both (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cucucu ( 953756 )
    Go to the .net job, earn more money and convince them to introduce IronPython. Then you'll have the money and resume of .net, and the geekyness of open source dynamic language.

    You can also make great career advances by showing them how they get more productive with Python and being their guru.

    Just writing more C# or Perl lines will not take you anywhere. Try to make highest impact and leave your personal mark on the job you do.
  • Your duty to yourself and your family is to maximize your earning potential. Not to play Half-Life in your off hours. Every company I've seen that does that (play games, etc.) tends to not be the most focused as far as management, goals, and the like. I could be entirely wrong about that.

    However you also need to look at long term viability. Which company is more likely to be there in 5 years, so your 401k matching doesn't get yanked (the matching part that isn't vested). Not to mention the possibility of lo
  • by colonslash ( 544210 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:49AM (#16783325)
    I think you should take the .NET job. You obviously have trouble making personal decisions - with the extra money you can get a personal shopper to buy stuff for you and a butler to dress you.
  • by Da Fokka ( 94074 )

    VB != VBScript != J++ != VB.Net != C#.

    Furthermore, C# is an ECMA standard and given the amounts of time and money MS has invested in evangelicalizing .NET, C# is here to stay. I've been working on it for 4 years and I don't see C# going away anytime soon.

  • by Peregr1n ( 904456 ) <ian.a.ferguson@gmail.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:01AM (#16783415) Homepage
    You spend a third of your life at work (and another third asleep, so essentially half your waking life). Don't you think being happy is more important than money? Unless you think more money = more happiness. Personally, I haven't experienced anything to justify this theory.
  • Misleading title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:03AM (#16783437) Homepage Journal
    The title "Choosing Your Next Programming Job -- Perl Or .NET?" is totally misleading. It's clear to you and to me that your deciding factors are, in order:

    1) Fun: social/work environment, large/small company considerations
    2) Money: Salary and benefits
    3) Toolset: perl or .net.

    Having said that, you can do worse than c#. I even prefer it to perl, the syntax is less of a mess. But your mileage can and will vary.
  • Flip a coin... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:07AM (#16783461) Homepage
    ... and see if you're happy with the result. If not, switch.
  • by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) * on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:08AM (#16783469) Homepage
    Believe it or not, language is not that big of a factor in whether you like your job. As proof, I offer that I've been working 2.5 years in a ColdFusion job, and while the language feels like I'm trying to perform surgery with rusty tools, the work is interesting and challenging.

    Here's a few questions, and my advice based on their answers:

    1) Are you young? Take the higher paying job and work like mad for 5 years while living like a pauper (small apartment, used car which you paid cash for, but wide broadband and good computer). Your time in the cubicle farm will be rewarded with getting home and being able to go frag someone. You'll either pay off all your debt, develop a huge savings, or some combination thereof. This will establish the financial stability today which can permit you a lot more freedom in your job choice in a few years. This is the path I'm going, and I'll have my mortgage paid off 3 years from now (5 years after I opened it).

    2) Are you willing to relocate? If not, you do NOT want that Perl job no matter how good it looks. 2.5-3 hours of driving a day will sap way more of your life than working in a corporate environment. Every single day you will arrive at work tired, and every single night you will get home exhausted. I drive 1.5 hours now, and this is absolutely my upper limit. Something most folks don't really think about is that they get errands done during the week, which I don't have time for even with my (short compared to yours) drive. That means my weekends get sapped up getting stuff done which most people get done during the week. Opportunities for relaxation become few and far between. During the week you'll get home from work and just crash on the couch until you fall asleep, exhausted. My drive takes more out of me than my work day does, by a long shot.

    3) Do you have a wife and/or kids? You're going to want to take the job which provides sufficient financial stability, while giving you the most time with them. If not, refer again to question 1.

    4) How many hours are generally worked by the employees of each location? I've seen small companies which generally work 40 hours and no more, and I've seen big companies which are this way. Also I've seen small companies which expect each person to put in 70-80 hours, and I've seen big companies which expect each project to meet its deadline no matter how unreasonable. Total amount of free personal time is way more important than how much you like the work you're doing.

    5) How busy are the people at each place? Too busy as in #4 is bad, but too slow is just as bad. Nothing is worse than trying to muddle through another work day with nothing to do, and nothing interesting to keep your mind occupied, while you surf work-friendly sites such as Slashdot, and hope your web usage doesn't get high enough to raise eyebrows. This will actually lead to a state of mental apathy which is very hard to shake, and which can seriously cripple your career for years. We've had people like this, and have had to get rid of them because we could never depend on them to get anything done in a reasonable amount of time even though once upon a time they were firecracker developers. 3 or 4 years in a job like this can ruin a developer, sometimes forever.

    I hope these thoughts help. Largely they're based on my own personal experience, but to some extent they're also based on having been a developer manager for a firm which contracts most of our people out to other companies (hence my experience with point 5).
  • I get the feeling you are trying to pull our collective legs here. It is hard to imagine a person who knows both Perl+Linux and .NET would have to resort to slashdot for this kind of advice. But anyway, here are my 0.05.

    If you are a young person (assuming so, because you are considering joining a small Half-Life-playing Perl-using Web-programming company) go for Perl and Linux. Enjoy it as long as it lasts, because it will be much more fun than white collar work at a .NET corporation.

    But if you are a

  • There are a lot of factors. One way to do it is to make a list of your priorities in life and then rank them. You can then do a simple "which best meets the top priority" or you can assign some kind of weighting and rank each choice on how it meets all your priorities. Only you can come up with the list of priorities and the value of each.

    Some ideas:
    Better commute: 10 points
    Paying off debts: 20 points
    Control over work: 15 points
    Enjoyable work environment: 15 points
    Staying in my house: 30 points
    Futur
  • commute time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rrcjab ( 1024983 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:18AM (#16783551)
    one thing you can not buy is more time. It wasn't clear to me whether you would actually try driving 120 miles each way, or whether you would move closer, but if it's the former, that's about 1/4 of your waking hours you'd be spending in the car. I did this for a year. It sucked.
  • I'd either stay away from the Perl shop, or join up and try to convert them to another platform. It will come back to haunt you in a few years when you have to support a mess of spaghetti.

    Perl is a great language for lots of things, but as someone with lots of experience with Perl, Ruby, Java, PHP, .Net, and even C for enterprise web applications, I would say Perl is far from an ideal choice for enterprise apps today.

    True, it is possible to write great apps in Perl. It's also great for simple small quick ap
  • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
    "In the large company, you will be locked to a regular user account. You won't get to install unapproved software (this includes your favourite text editors, browsers, music players, etc)."

    You sure seem to know a lot about the large company considering the article never names them. I've worked for one large company and I found the opposite to be true. There was "approved" software we had to run but the approval process usually involved sending an email to IT and asking if it's ok. We used Symmantec Corpo
  • I don't want this to come off sounding snarky, but most young people (I do not know if you or he are 18 or 80) don't think about the future. You will eventually retire (if you live long enough) and you will cease to have an income. You will be living on what you have saved and invested while you were working. Making more money does not have to mean enjoying greater luxuries now. It can mean that he lives exactly as he is currently living and socks the difference away towards retirement (or saving for colleg
  • I am not very familiar with the .NET framework (I've had my head stuck in PHP for the past five years). Can someone please clarify which .NET language has the most promising employment prospects? Looking at a Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org], I see that C# is the flagship, but there's no mention of ASP. Isn't ASP used almost exclusively for web development within the .NET framework?

    I've decided I would like to pursue another language outside of PHP, and it's a toss up between .NET and Java. Except I'm confused about the
  • I strongly suggest thinking about going for positions based around PHP (perferably somewhere doing OO based PHP5) - as these days PHP is much more commonly sought after as far as web site design goes and it's similar enough that's it's easy to learn and you can maintain your Perl skills at the same time (and I imagine most places that would welcome both). I'm sure there are certainly people who are going to advocate you go for positions with something like Ruby, but I would say it's not mainstream enough y
  • This is really kinda on a case-by-case basis. I work for a company which has an office in Dallas, New York City, Philly and Clevelend. We're considered a "large company" by all accounts, yet we have freedom. Over 20 people have Itunes installed, I have personally requested 3 LCDs to work with (which is not the norm). We do play Quake 3 at lunch, which is nice. Tuesday after work is AoE III for a couple hours. Since we're a web company, you're free to choose your own browser, whether it be IE, FF, Oper
  • I just left a .NET company to work for a php/perl/python/ruby company. At one place I had trouble getting up in time (had to be at work for 9am). Now I get up at 5 in the morning to get to work ASAP.

    Whereas with a 120 mile commute, the OP will be getting up at 5 in the morning just to get to work by 9...

  • by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:35AM (#16783741)
    The amounts you talk about on interview may be nothing like you really get. On my pre-last job I settled on one thing and then several months later boss decided that he should cut in by a third and pay the difference as bonuses (theoretically even more than it was before, yeah, right). Of course bonuses only applied if boss was happy. And when you are a "small cog".... Well, you can go down depression road pretty easily. And climbing back may be a bit toughy.
  • [x] Death by Snoo-Snoo!

  • Look at the lifespan of Microsoft's "this is really it, this is the target platform" specs. DOS, Windows, OS/2, Win32, NT, MFC...

    How long has perl5 been out there?

    What's the carryover from perl4 to perl5? How does that compare to, say, the carryover from MFC to .NET?

    What is a reasonable expectation for the time between now and then next major overhaul that drops .NET in favor of something even buzzwordier?

    Developing for Windows is the upgrade treadmill at its finest.
  • Spot on. Two years ago I took a very high paying contracting job for working on AIX/Linux. The guys I worked with were great but the company was a huge bloated entity and everything moved at a glacial pace. Security rights, Room access, internet access policy, workstation policy, were all huge pains in the ass for me, enough so that the first week was when I decided I was outta there within a couple of months. My previous job allowed me to run my own linux workstation and work at my own pace.

    Fortunately, ab
  • Why ask us? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carik ( 205890 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:41AM (#16783813)
    We can tell you what we think, but you're the one as has to make the decision in the end...

    That said: I would much rather make less doing a job I enjoy than get paid a lot for doing something I hate. Does the lower paying job cover your bills? Will it allow you to build up at least a little bit of a reserve? If you decide to move, will you be able to afford living nearer that job, and if not, will you be able to afford to commute? Assuming the answers to all of those are "yes," I'd take the job that pays less but looks like more fun. Don't buy into the American "money is everything" mentality -- money does you no good if you're miserable.
  • ASP.NET is really the use of C# or VB.NET in web development. You couple this with HTML, CSS, etc.
  • by szo ( 7842 )
    Good choice, but first, here's some .NET!
  • I don't think you should be scaring him with the small company stuff. What really should be brought to attention is his age and ability to face risk. Is he middle aged and ready to "settle" at a job that pays pretty good, has pretty good benefits and take the small risk for the small reward? Or is he willing to take a shot at some small company that may be ready to blossom? If it does blossom, is he one of the guys that will be sticking around? Will he get to be paid handsomly if it starts taking off? There
  • Choose this pal.

    This area is a booming area, and it will boom continually as it is being adopted as the basis for open standards, and open business. heck, oscommerce is becoming a genre of 'programming' by itself, with oscommerce coding specialists out there.

    this avenue will guarantee that in future you will be able to choose from hordes of similar job offers, WHEREVER you want. and you can do contracts over the internet too, more than .net route.

    .net is generally preferred by big companies or busi
  • True, it is possible to write great apps in Perl. It's also great for simple small quick apps. But it's difficult to impossible to keep code clean as the app grows to a larger scale (think above the 100,000 LOC mark). It also has a very poor object model for encapsulation.

    Perl does a poor job of protecting the code base from bad programmers. This is true. There are also modules which extend the language for better class behavior and isolate code, especially in web development. Think Amazon using Mason.

    Th
  • Long term goals are important, but it's also about personal happiness right now too. Either way, I think he'd be better off taking the Perl job. As long as he's making enough money either way, then I don't see a problem with taking a lower paying job, if he thinks he will enjoy it more. The biggest thing he will probably notice between people working on Perl and people working on .Net, is that in .Net there will be a lot more idiots. The only people who know Perl, are the people who have a passion for pr
  • by GiMP ( 10923 )
    ASP is a container, NOT a language. In previous versions of ASP, it defaulted to running VBScript, now you must explicitly specify the language. VBScript is still supported, but C# is now 'flagship', and is the basis for much of the new code coming out today. Of course, with so many developers (and code) coming from legacy ASP, VBScript is still going strong.
  • by DaGoodBoy ( 8080 )
    No, no, not ooga booga... snu snu [urbandictionary.com]!
  • There will always be Unix systems; and as long as there is Unix, there will be Perl.

    .Net is a blip in the grand scheme of things. Microsoft's dominance will come to an end. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, but soon. If Vista doesn't kill Microsoft, whatever they try next surely will. There's a world out there that isn't prepared to put up with the kind of shit Microsoft are trying on. Linux is ready for the desktop, and BSD still has life in it yet. The world will be very quick to forget tha
  • Oddly enough... Good point. I wouldn't put to much effort on the language as a +/- for the job. In short it is Better $$$ or better work, enviroment. Both are good facters the the % difference is enough to really make you think. You spend about 1/3 of your life, working (8 hours a day travel time.) 1/3 of your life sleeping. and 1/3 of your life of actually being yourself.
    So which 1/3 do you want to improve. The Living third or the working third. If you have a familiy I would probably go with the extra $
  • First off, everyone's different. What makes some people happy makes other people miserable. You need to figure out which makes you happier.

    People say, money can't buy happiness. I don't know whether that's true or not -- but money sure helps a lot of problems go away. And it helps buy peace of mind. For me, peace of mind is the first step to happiness.

    Take mortgages, for example. Or car loans. Or anything else you wish you didn't have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on, but end up having to anyway. Dep
  • I can almost tell you what the comments here are going to say. The money doesn't matter. Do what you like. Etc.

    Is that possible, though? I think a lot of times, people choose A over B because A is closer to what they like. Meanwhile, they take a hit in pay. Does this really get you on a path to doing what you like? What happens when you finally have the opportunity to do exactly what you want, but the pay cut is so great that you are unable to take it?

    The paradoxical path might be to choose B over A because
  • In the Perl company hackers make technical choices

    That's likely but not assured; small shops often revolve around one big ego. http://www.thedailywtf.com/ [thedailywtf.com] supplies a steady stream of examples. I'd ask questions that might turn up something in the interviews.

    What you also need to watch out for is the possibility that in the small company, hackers make business choices too
  • by @madeus ( 24818 )
    True, it is possible to write great apps in Perl. It's also great for simple small quick apps. But it's difficult to impossible to keep code clean as the app grows to a larger scale (think above the 100,000 LOC mark). It also has a very poor object model for encapsulation.

    I definately have problems with Perl's object model but I don't think 100,000 + line Perl software is especially difficult. I've found a system with lots of modules and at least that many lines of code (I would estimate it at at least twic
  • Bingo.

    My previous position was at a small(ish) company (~120+ people), but one which was a Microsoft Gold Partner, and had the kind of stifling corporate culture and immovable inertia normally associated with multinational corporations. The job was boring and frustrating, the workforce hated the management and vice-versa... but it was a 15 minutes car journey (through beautiful countryside) from my door.

    My present role is as the web manager of an even smaller company (~70 employees worldwide). The working
  • ... I'd take the small company job, because waking up and WANTING to goto work is worth more to me than a few extra dollars.

    Hating your job sucks, and its all too common in big companies (well and in little companies too, but doesn't sound like that is one of those.)
  • With the PERL job, you will be limiting your future, but maybe not by much as you already have the MS .NET experience.

    No one can make the decision for you, but maybe I can help you quantify the decision:

    First, list the qualities of the positions. Work environment, hours worked, pay, working in a perl/linux shop, having a continuous career arc, company size, and anything else you can think of between these two jobs.

    Then, set your priorities by rating the qualities on a scale of 1 - 10.

    Next, for each job, as
  • Listening to music will probably be forbidden, thought you might sneak in some headphones and find out you don't hear your phone ringing when you have them on, and if you make the music quieter, you won't be able to listen to it from the phones ringing (catch 22).

    Your general claims about the corporate world are valid, but - are you a programmer? I ask because in most good corporations, the programmers are the tiny gods (depending on what they're working on). You will have to answer phone calls but genera

  • If I had a hole in my hand, why would I need a girlfriend?
    It sounds like you have a hole in your head as well.
  • Money does not make the world go around, but it does a good job of greasing the wheels.
  • by Intron ( 870560 )
    Agreed. I spent 5 years at a cool place that did Pascal. Residual skills = zero. Never regretted it. Working with smart people you admire far outweighs being a high-paid drone.
  • If you are a good programmer, learning a new language or system shouldn't be an issue. For that reason, take whatever job brings in the highest salary + satisfaction, however you choose to measure that. Another job well done can only positively affect your prospects in this industry. :)
  • Personally, I am a big Ruby fan nowadays for web apps. A very close second on my list is Java.
    Please don't start a flamewar about this, but: Which big web applications/sites run on Java? I used to be a big Java supporter, but I've been sold to PHP because of its sheer performance. My PHP servers routinely put out 6Mb/s of dynamically generated pages, whereas my previous Java applications struggled serving 1.5Mb/s for about the same complexity.
  • After that, I got tons of emails from recruiters for jobs that did Forms development

    What's pretty funny, is that these recruiters can really be pushy. When I got out of Oracle, I replied to a few job offerings which apparently were placed by recruiters. I had dealt with these guys before so I was prepared... but boy... After explaining what I was looking for, one guy called me back later:

    Recruiter: "I've made an appointment for you, a very good opportunity. Can you come on day X?"
    Me: "Depends, what i

  • Why would you want a job at a megacorporation [...] coding in one of those ironclad languages with layers upon layers of redundant abstractions and frameworks that in the end do exactly the same as ten lines of Perl?

    Because those ten lines of Perl look like line noise.
    (-1, Troll)

    Just kidding. I don't think the issue here is much about the technology or language, it's all about the work environment. Give the devil his due, Microsoft didn't do a completely terrible job with the .NET languages. They'r
  • Do you rent or own? If you own a home, this humble non-home-owner would fear that the transaction costs involved in moving would be as big a hit, if not bigger, in the first year than the 30% pay hit you'd take moving for the Perl company. Of course, if you own in the city and are moving to the boonies, you may actually come out ahead in the deal. Anyone who's been through it recently have thoughts?

  • by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:11AM (#16785429) Homepage
    I know and love Perl (in fact it probably takes the case for "least looking things up" for me) but... I don't think it's as solid career foundation right now. It's a great supplement to the Java/J2EE that actually lands me jobs, but it's getting to be more and more of an esoteric kind of skill. (And I still haven't found a way of making a decent UI for a standalone app...)

    I don't know if .Net is a "flash in the pan", but it seems to be the current plateau of a Microsofty-path. And it's not a terrible one. The mindset can be a little weird for a Perl-head, Microsoft tries to do too much and too little and sometimes it's hard to get the deep grokking that coders tend to like. But there are some upsides as well.

    This isn't an evaluation of your life position and work-culture-based decisions, just my two cents about the technologies.
  • Trends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmerideth ( 107286 ) <gmerideth@@@uclnj...com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:22AM (#16785653) Homepage
    While not a clear indication of trends towards choice of programming languages, its interesting to view the queries associated with either .net or perl. Google trends shows a nice steady decline in searches for perl while .net has remained a constant.

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=.net%2C+perl [google.com]

    There is also a steady decline in Java compared to C# in queries.

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=c%23%2C+java&ctab=0 &geo=all&date=all [google.com]

    Could it be that nobody needs to search google for examples, updates, information versus C#? Who can tell.
  • by Ranger ( 1783 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:43AM (#16786015) Homepage
    You must come over to the .dark .side. .Become .a .NET .developer. or you could become a Ruby zealot. I've heard it involves becoming an acolyte but you must first sacrifice an old Amiga (or is it a goat?) on the alter of zealotry. Perl is cool and all, but I recently converted from Perl to Python and it is wicked cool. Once I got past that weird whitespace thing it's really nice to not to have to put a ; after each line. I think Python hits the language sweetspot. It's an object oriented scripting language robust enough that you don't have to learn Java. You get the added bonus of being more productive for things like web development.
  • Pills red and blue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) * on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:50AM (#16786149) Homepage Journal

    A search of Dice shows a lot more .NET jobs. Would taking the Perl job hurt my prospects in the future?

    Let's just focus on this. And sum your current professional coding experience as X years. Then in two years

    • If you go with the MS shop your resume can say "X+2 years experience coding in a Microsoft shop using .Net, C#, yaddayadda"
    • If you go with the small shop your resume can say "X+2 years experience coding in a range of environments including .Net, Perl, etc; AND 2 years of increasing responsibility in managing web coding projects including working directly with clients, and contributing to modifying specifications and contracts to meet changing requirements, yaddayadda"

    For several years I chaired the LPN Board for a large hospital, which screened applicants for hire and promotions. A big chunk of our work could be summed up with this question: "Is this a nurse with five years of experience, or a nurse with one year of experience repeated five times?" The same thing applies here. I don't think your decision is about money. I think it is about whether you want to take the red pill or the blue pill.

  • by KFury ( 19522 ) * on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:10PM (#16786467) Homepage
    Take the Perl job and start moving them to Python*. Perl is dead for web development, but it sounds like this kind of shop would be able to move on to the next technology and let you have fun while doing it.

    * rand(Python, JServe, LAMP, Ruby)
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:20PM (#16786559)
    Money isn't all that, and there's a MAJOR factor missing in your information.... What are the overtme/crunch time/weekend situations like?

    Being happy in your job is a major factor of leading a happy life. If you hate your job, odds are you're going to hate your life. If you have to work a lot of overtime and weekends, it can really make life suck.

    One good way of dealing with this is insisting on comp time for overtime. Make sure your company knows that you expect a fair deal. If you have to work 8 hours on a Saturday, you should get a comp day. They're hiring you, not buying you.

    Also, money isn't everything. BUT, if you are young, and the pay is really good, it can't hurt to put several years into making good money as long as you somehow invest it. I slaved away in a .com for 5 years, and some of them really sucked, but I dumped all of that money into my house. After 7 years I sold the house in the "perfect little suburban community" for a boatload more than I paid, and bought a cheap house, and I was able to put a huge chunk of money down on it, reducing my monthly mortgage payment.

    Now I have a low-stress job with greatly reduced pay, but I also have much smaller financial needs, and I'm as happy as I can be.

    Always keep your eyes on the prize. Happiness.
  • by Dissenter ( 16782 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:32PM (#16786691)
    Something that I learned early enough to make a difference, but late enough to lose momentum is that your next job depends on your current job. Here's what I mean. If you are making X then you can expect your next job to be at least x + .15x or a 15% increase. I would never leave a job for more than a 15% increase unless there were serious problems. Taking the Perl job sounds like a ton of fun, but remember than smaller companies often need longer hours. The side benefits are nice, but there are usually needs on the side too. If you take the smaller raise, you will probably find yourself still working towards that x + .66x income in 5 years. If you take the .NET job you will be looking for the salary of 1.66x + .15(1.66x) rather than 1.2x + .15(1.2x)

    To take the math out of this you will be playing salary catch up for years and probably won't catch up for a long time if ever. I turned down a 60% raise 7 years ago and just caught up to that level last year. If I'd taken that money then, I would be much farther ahead right now.

    Let me qualify this by stating that MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING. I understand that, but I have a wife and a son and they aren't cheap.

    If I were you and didn't have a huge preference between languages, I can play Half-Life at home thank you very much. Besides every time I play almost any game with co-workers they're a bunch of peon n00bs anyway ;-) and it gets old fast.

    Money does mean something, otherwise we'd all be working on software projects and just giving it away... wait a second....
  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:33PM (#16786713)
    I can't tell you which job to take, but I hope your resume doesn't list decisiveness as one of your strengths.

    [I keed, I keed.]

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