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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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  • 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?
  • 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 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:54AM (#16783363)
    If you've not worked in a large company then you won't know about this, but it should be part of your assessment.

    Large companies work to a process model, and those processes are designed by morons. Well-intentioned morons, but morons nevertheless. Your life will become a never-ending battle against "the system", instead of about doing useful, sensible, and fun things with technology.

    And life is simply too short for that corporate bullshit.

    If you choose the big company, don't say I didn't warn you. :-)

    [PS. Being freelance, I've worked for 9-12 months at a time within a *LARGE number* of companies, and the above is true everywhere. The only thing that varies is the extent of the malaise, but it's general.]
  • by Peregr1n ( 904456 ) <> 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.
  • Trends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmerideth ( 107286 ) <gmerideth@uclnj.cDEBIANom minus distro> 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. []

    There is also a steady decline in Java compared to C# in queries. &geo=all&date=all []

    Could it be that nobody needs to search google for examples, updates, information versus C#? Who can tell.
  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:29PM (#16786659) Homepage
    I am borrowing heavily from someone else but here goes: .Net Job is the higher paying job because they have to pay you more today because "tomorrow" (5+ yrs?) there will be less demand or lower wages for the same position. So, in 5+ years you can reasonably expect to have a skillset that fewer employers will want or pay high wages for. When it comes to pricing and innovation the most likely scenario for Microsoft is they will be driving away more new business and demanding more money from their current customers.

    The Perl Job is lower paying because the difference between the .net and perl job is the price you are paying to learn a skill that will be in greater demand in the future. (e.g. "Paying your dues") Typically in the early days of any new market, you'll find lots of people who didn't earn very much, and maybe learned the business. The ones that are lucky enough to stick around that industry for 10 years end up earning cha-ching because they paid their dues to be there. Their customers, who were small businesses 10 years ago are much bigger 10 years later and will pay much higher prices for the few experts in the field.

    It also depends on your personality. Personally, I am -much- happier earning a little less doing many different tasks and working with people who work together as opposed to large companies where you have a few tasks and "chinese walls" surrounding you.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp