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Thoughts on maintaining perl

Horsley Tom
May 25, 2000 10:32
Thoughts on maintaining perl
Message ID:
On a (possibly) somewhat more serious note, I do think there
are legitimate reasons that I would never want to maintain
large amounts of perl code, and they are rooted in the
language itself.

It mostly stems from the fact that there are too many ways
to do things (some of them supposedly added to make things
more readable, but, in practice, having the opposite effect :-).

I would be willing to read and maintain my own perl code
because I understand the subset of perl I use, and I don't
need to know any other subset of perl because the other
subsets don't actually add any new features, just different
ways to say the same thing, but if I had to maintain perl
code, I'd have to actually be able to read all the different

Just some examples: perl has about 1,247 levels of operator
precedence, and some fools out there actually insist
on minimizing the number of parens in any expression
by picking || instead of OR, etc. No ordinary human
being can actually parse crap like that - I'd much
rather have the "ugly" parens cluttering things up just
so I'd know, not only what the expression really means,
but what the author really meant when he wrote it,
in some ways APL is more readable :-).

Then there are I/O functions, vs object oriented
I/O handle operations, then there are optional
parens around arg lists except when they aren't optional,
then there are $ref->{} vs $$ref{} then there are bare
words vs single quotes then there are (at least) two
different ways to call object methods then
there are etc, etc...

You may get the idea: You can be a perfectly competent
programmer, writing perfectly wonderful perl code
and it can *still* be virtually impossible for someone
else to maintain. You have to know a lot more perl
to maintain it than you do to write it.

Yes, this is true for just about any language, but
I often think it is far more true for perl than just
about any other. (Mind you, I still love perl, but
I can see the problems with maintaining it). Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
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