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Re: Its time we set the score straight on Perl 5 and Perl 6and debunk our own self generated FUD.

Tom Horsley
June 16, 2006 09:15
Re: Its time we set the score straight on Perl 5 and Perl 6and debunk our own self generated FUD.
Message ID:
On Fri, 2006-06-16 at 08:44 -0700, Dean Arnold wrote:
> > Perl really is a write-only language, 
> What leads you to that conclusion ?  

The fact that so many features of perl were
added specificly to encourage shorthand
gibberish for the use of folks writing
quick hacks.

Just off the top of my head:

Consider || and OR (and friends) with the
same meaning but different precedence so people
can write huge expressions with no parens.

C does indeed suffer from the same problem to
some extent, but at least all the operators
actually mean something different. With perl
this extra nonsense was added specificly
to encourage leaving out parens and leaving
all but language lawyers scratching their

Or perhaps an even worse example: barewords.
There's a concept that really encourages
readable code - quoted strings without quotes.

Or multiple different syntaxes to call object
methods - the call does nothing different,
you can just write it two or three totally
different ways.

Every time a language aquires totally different
syntax with absolutely no different meaning
between the two, you add another element to the
set you can take the cartesian product of to
generate the number of different styles perl
can be written in. Perl seems to keep accumulating
more and more of these things, so the set
keeps getting bigger.

This does indeed make the original authors more
productive since they can do whatever feels
best to them (hence my love for quick hacking).

Unfortunately it requires later maintainers to
know the *entire* language in minute detail.
Such people are not easy to come by, hence my
definition of perl as "write only".

I get the impression that one of the things
people like about python is that it is more
consistent without the 1000 different ways
to do the same thing (but I can't know for sure
since I utterly refuse to use python unless
they make TAB an illegal character in source
code :-).

I think the world needs a language that is great
for quick hacks because quick hacks are needed
so frequently, hence my love of perl. I just
don't think it is remotely maintainable by
anyone other than the original author, and I
think that is a major roadblock for enterprise
type production use. Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
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