Meet the European Perl Ecosystem: spotlight on Granada.PM

A chat with JJ Merelo, one of the most well-connected people in Perl. Among regular conference attendees && Spanish Perl enthusiasts, he needs no introduction. But, for those new to the Perl scene, JJ is the leader of, YAPC::EU 2015 organizer && a great human being. Let’s get to knowing him && his group a bit better.

Q1. Tell us about yourself && your background

I started programming Basic with an Spectrum in ’83. I bumped into Perl in 92 or 93, in Usenet, probably, and started to use it extensively, in my classes, in my research, all over the place. I wrote a tutorial where, following the sense of humor of Larry Wall in his book on Perl, I had a corrupt politician use Perl for stuff like getting cuts out of transactions or choosing his friends for posts. I posted it on the Internet, and started to be copied over and over. Even 20 years old, its literal first sentences return 50 hits in Google

I always loved programming, and Perl was great for doing all kind of things. Since we met, I haven’t stopped using it ever since.

Q2. When && how did you start Why did you start the group?

It’s a very small group, really, basically a bunch of buddies and me at the university. When I knew about registration of groups, I did it, so basically no reason. From time to time, we meet very sporadically specifically to talk about Perl, but we meet on a daily basis at the university, so no need to make anything more formal, we have organized several online courses, and after a couple of unsuccessful bids for YAPC, we eventually managed to organize it, and it was great.

Q3. How are you organized? What projects && activities do you have?

We participate in hackathons together with the Free Software Office and, from time to time, organize courses, mainly online. We have been running a Perl & PHP course, and two exclusive Perl course that have been dormant for the last few months. We also give introductory workshops every year to university students, and of course try to help anybody who needs help.

Q4. How many members are there in your group && how did you grow the local community?

Really, very few. Half a dozen. But since most people in my research group and at the university use Perl, maybe that could grow to a couple of dozens. The best way of making Perl grow is just mentioning it whenever you have the chance, as well as gie these introductory workshops.

Q5. Any events of we could && should attend?

We very recently organized a Perl 6 meeting after FOSDEM to talk about the latest news. We are integrated with the larger FLOSS community in Granada whose activities are here

Q6. What are your plans for the future?

I’ve started writing a book on Perl that reflects my ideas on how to learn a new programming language. I don’t know if I’ll finish it, but I’ll do my best. With material from that book, I’d like to prepare a new online course. And of course we’ll continue to spread the word on Perl.

Q7. Any “unsung heroes” of you’d like to publicly acknowledge?

Each and every one of them, Víctor, Pablo “Psicobyte”, Renato, Maribel, Pedro, the other Pablo “Fergu”, Paloma, Manu, Jose, as I say, every one of them are great and I have reason to admire, and to learn, from all of them.

Q8. Share your favorite story w/ the world

It’s got a name; Jeff. I was really amazed with that. Then the thing is that most people who work with me now met because of these tutorials and the things we have done online, so Perl was kind of the seed for creating the group I work with now.

Q9. A piece of advice for folks that want to start a PM group

Be patient. Be open to any and everything. Be patient. And then, be patient a little bit more.

Q10. What are the most important elements of a cohesive && successful group?

Well, ours has been successful just because it’s so loosely coupled and also because it’s based in working relationships. But the main thing is not to get burned organizing too many things that often don’t attract as many people as you expected. Stick to the tried and true: irregular meetings, short-term hackathons, creation of teaching material you can collaborate asynchronously. I think it’s also quite important to have a very horizontal structure, with no one sticking out but everyone helping and learning from everyone. That usually works. But only usually.

Q11. What makes your group stand out?

Age, I guess.

Q12. Anything else you’d like to add?

I wish you the best organizing YAPC; you’re doing an excellent job helping the Perl community and I am sure YAPC in Cluj will be a great success.

Thanks heaps && see you & the members @ YAPC::Europe 2016, in Cluj!

Contact details for Granada.PM: