Meet the European Perl Ecosystem: spotlight on Vienna.PM

A chat with Thomas Klausner (domm), one of the most well-connected people in Perl. Among regular conference attendees && Austrian Perl enthusiasts, he needs no introduction. But, for those new to the Perl scene, domm is the leader of Vienna.pm, Perl hacker, member of YAPC Europe Foundation && a great human being, overall. Let’s get to knowing him && his group a bit better.

Q1. Tell us about yourself && your background

I’m 40 years old and the father of two nearly adult sons (16 & 20) (yes, I started early). I like to cook, cycle, travel and listen to vinyl (and to constantly buy more of that stuff, even though it does not compress very well). I dabble at photography (http://domm.plix.at/potd.html), like books from China Miéville, and acquired a small TV-show-addiction after figuring out bittorrent.

Professionally, I’m a self-employed freelancer doing Perl hacking & consulting. I started doing Internet stuff during a bike trip through Ireland right after school (‘94), by reading the book “The Internet Unleashed” that featured Gopher and this new thing called WWW. I then took the usual route of writing manual HTML, writing scripts that wrote HTML, CGI, mod_perl, and have now happily arrived in a time and place where I hardly see any HTML anymore (“A day without touching HTML is a good day”). RESTfulAPIs++

As my favorite t-shirt says, “Perl is my paycheck”. I’m very thankful to Larry Wall and the other weirdos who make Perl possible. Perl is just the perfect fit to my brain: a bit sloppy but very efficient; rough around the corners but elegant when you look at it from the right angle; a bit crazy but my kind of crazy.

If that’s not enough, you can stalk me on http://domm.plix.at and/or Twitter.

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

Actually, Vienna.pm was started by Marcel Grünauer in the late 90s. I think I became “glorious leader” around 2002, after attending my first YAPC::Europe 2001 in Amsterdam.

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

Legally, we are a “Verein”, which is a nice Austrian form of organization with very little overhead. We have to hold a meeting (“Generalversammlung”) every two years, which includes a check of our expanses and a vote on the officials. If I remember correctly, we have a very North-Korean track record of unanimous votes in our history…

Currently, we’re mainly active on the #Austria.pm IRC channel on irc.perl.org. There is a mailing list, but it barely gets any traffic. We also have a Meetup page , because apparently you cannot reach all people via IRC anymore.

We try to have regular technical and social meetings, with a heavy focus on the social meetings in the last few years. We also try to organize a Perl Workshop once a year, sometimes together with other user groups like the Twin City Perl Workshops with Bratislava.pm. In fact, this year’s workshop will take place on 2nd and 3rd September (right after YAPC::Europe) in Innsbruck, and it’s organized together with the Swiss Perl Mongers under the name “Alpine Perl Workshop 2016”.

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

Meetup says 84, IRC usually as 10 to 15 people hanging out, and we get something between 5 and 20 people at meetings.

We got the biggest growth during and after YAPC::Europe 2007 in Vienna. First, a lot of people helped planning and organizing the conference, and afterwards a lot of local Perl people who were not connected to the community realized that something like a Perl community exists. And that it is awesome!

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

Obviously the “Alpine Perl Workshop 2016”, though it’s not in Vienna (but only a 4-hour train ride away).

If you (dear reader) happen to be in Vienna, make sure to tell us about it. We usually take any excuse we can get to host an “Emergency Social” (a nice tradition borrowed from London.pm), take you on a bike tour through Vienna, or even offer a sofa to crash on.

Q6. What are your plans for the future?

We do have plans to host a big Perl event next year (though also not in Vienna). Keep your eyes open for some announcements…

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

Roland Lammel definitely deserves a lot of acknowledgments. He’s our treasure, and did an excellent job handling all the money we had left after YAPC::Europe 2007 (all of that without the help of Mossack Fonseca), and he still does an excellent job tending our bank account, collecting our membership fees and thus making it possible to organize future events. Thanks!

Lars Dieckow is very active organizing social and technical meetups. He picked up this task, unasked, after I lost a bit of steam a few year ago, and without him we would not have as many meetings, and would be a lot less active. Thanks!

Q8. Share your favorite Vienna.pm story w/ the world

On a train ride from Vienna to Bratislava during the Twin City Perl Workshop, we happened to talk about bicycles (I guess because Bratislava is in easy cycling distance to Vienna). It turned out that of the ~10 people in the train, at least 7 were quite into cycling. This prompted Maroš Kollár and me to start Bicycle.pm.

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

· First, check out if there already is an active or dormant group nearby.

· Start small, do face-to-face events with one or two talks and then a social part.

· Attend non-Perl events and spam them with Perl content. You will probably meet somebody there who secretly does Perl, and is happy to meet somebody who speaks her language.

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

Regular face-to-face meetings.

Q11. What makes your group stand out?

We organized the most successful YAPC::Europe, after which we could hand out 30.000€ to various Perl projects.

Q12. Anything else you’d like to add?

Looking forward to meet you in Cluj for YAPC::Europe 2016!

See you & the Granada.pm members @ YAPC::Europe 2016, in Cluj!