perl [was: in defense of Java, again]

Stuart Jansen sjansen at buscaluz.org
Fri Jan 27 10:13:41 MST 2006


On Fri, 2006-01-27 at 06:38 -0800, Jonathan Ellis wrote:
> Yes, it was an interesting experiment.  The problem is that the verdict
> has been in for years now, and it is that "a computer language that
> doesn't design for orthogonality doesn't lead to Code Poetry; it leads,
> more often than not, to a mess."

That's an interesting hypothesis, do you have any data to back it? On my
side, I have all of CPAN and the significant effort to create Perl 6. If
Perl is dead, there's an awful lot of people that haven't noticed yet.

Let me put this simply: Perl is more powerful than Python for certain
things. Name one? Unicode. Because of the widespread availability of
PyGTK, I wanted to write a recent project in Python. When I started
exploring some of the core functionality, I discovered that only the
absolutely most recent version of Python could do what I needed. Perl
had more completely integrated Unicode for longer, so I ended up using
Perl.

Sure I could have used Java instead, but I think we both know why I
wanted to Perl/Python or Ruby.

Name another? Higher order programming. Python is occasionally presented
as being Lisp with a more standard syntax. Perl is actually closer. (I
don't have the link, but could google for it if you absolutely insist.)
Perl programmers are embracing that. Meanwhile rumor has it that Python
is planning on getting rid of lambda. (Which is a crying shame because
lambda helped make PyGTK programming more enjoyable.)

Frankly, Python is more closely related to Java (without the insane
over-engineering) than it is to Lisp. Where I sit on the language
spectrum, that means I enjoy using it much less.

Sure, it's easy to write short, unreadable Perl code. Try to write
something larger without any discipline, however, and your project will
quickly collapse under its own weight. You can then blame the language
or blame yourself and try learn from the many examples of well written
Perl code. Well written, large, maintainable projects can be and are
written in Perl. (With noticeable exceptions like Bugzilla. But using it
as proof that Perl is hopeless is kinda like finding a well written PHP
program and holding it up as proof that all PHP is well written.)

-- 
Stuart Jansen              e-mail/jabber: sjansen at buscaluz.org
                           google talk:   stuart.jansen at gmail.com
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