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Re: Revising Perl's OO docs - a new OO tutorial

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Chris Prather
March 7, 2011 15:05
Re: Revising Perl's OO docs - a new OO tutorial
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On Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 4:21 PM, Ricardo Signes
<> wrote:
> * Chris Prather <> [2011-03-07T15:21:44]
>> On Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 9:34 PM, Father Chrysostomos <> wrote:
>> > If we do add object attributes to Perl, it would be very nice if we could
>> > use ‘$obj->attr = $foo’ syntax, instead of $obj->attr($foo), which is
>> > currently widely used mainly because the former is so hard to do (that can
>> > change, of course).
>> >
>> It's my (not-so-humble) opinion this is a horrible idea. It violates
>> encapsulation and confuses the behavior with state in a way that will
>> only lead to *more* confusion down the line.
> He didn't say that it would have to be lvalue subs.

I didn't mean to either. I added them as a second data point. I see
how bringing them into the argument at all could be confusing.

> Look at how Ruby does this:  you provide an "attr=" method that is called on
> assignment, so you are not violating encapsulation or confusing behavior with
> state.  It's sugar for a normal method call, which can have any behavior you
> want and mutates whatever state system it wants however it wants.

I can't argue the merits of Ruby's implementation. It's not one of the
languages I've paid attention to enough to know how it's behavior
works here other than a cursory glance (during our conversation on
IRC) that suggests it behaves the way I would expect.

In the paragraph you cited though, I'm not arguing about the
implementation. I'm arguing about the semantics of the syntax.

> I'm not saying that I want ->attr=$x, only that you are arguing against
> something that needn't be true.

In my opinion you're moving from dangerous to useless at best. I feel
that the *semantics* of this syntax are confusing. They confuse method
dispatch with assignment*. To me it's a dangerously short step from
$obj->attr = $x; to $obj->{attr} = $x; where you drop the
encapsulation entirely. Suggesting that encapsulation is a bad thing,
or even an undesirable thing is the "horrible idea". Especially for
the beginners that the advantages of a $obj->attr = $x syntax would
primarily benefit.

* I recognize that this is intentional. This is one of the places I
think TIMTWODI should bow to BSCINABTE at a syntactic level.

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