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Perl has a special distinction that it not only helps you do all this things seamlessly but also makes a great scripting language for any task imaginable today. You get one platform for quick scripts plus application development of almost any kind.

Until someone else has to maintain your code. I've noticed that most folks who default to Perl tend to write Perl in a manner largely inconsistent with the next guy's. "Bending toward your paradigm" is not an inherent good if anyone else ever has to deal with your paradigm after you leave.

Consistency at 90% your-arbitrary-metric-of-quality is generally better than wild inconsistency at 100% your-arbitrary-metric-of-quality, at least when multiple people are around.




I don't think this is true. Have you ever read the code of a bigger Perl distribution. For example Mojolicious.

https://github.com/kraih/mojo

While I also like other languages and for example have great fun using CoffeeScript for my current projects Perl is really good when it comes to describing what the code actually does. This is a benefit of "there is more than one way to do it". At the beginning t is hard to understand this, if you come from other languages. There are lots of people writing C-like Perl code. It looks very static and usually extremely ugly. People see this stuff, for example in the documentation of various bindings, etc. and think "ugh, that's ugly".

Perl (designed by a linguist) is much more dynamic, like a natural language. So it allows you to describe things in an hard or easier way. In fact Perl was my first real language and it took a while until I understood how others work. Meanwhile I know a number languages and have seen various ways in which you can design a language. I can see why many people shun Perl. However, the main reason possibly is that the don't understand what it's concepts are about. They are very different. One can possibly compare this with the situation when you switch to a functional language, like Haskell or when you haven't used OO before.

Like with all languages I really recommend to learn it. Even, if you don't use it Perl _will_ widen your horizon.

Two tips, if you do: Modern Perl, is probably the best book for learning and it's available as a free online book (wish I had something like that, when I started). There are many very outdated and even completely wrong tutorials. Oh and "use diagnostics;".

It will take a while until you see it's flexibility, but it is like Perl would be a language inherit (or assimilate) all paradigms and concepts or like always had them and they were just slumbering.

Well, of course there are other things like CPAN that make Perl great. Yeah, other languages have similar facilities, but they don't come close. It is really great and they all have lots of tests and there are a lot of "CPAN Testers" that report problem. And when you want portability you'll love it. It runs on _very_ exotic platforms.


Thank you for the links and the advice, but it is misplaced. I know and use Perl. I also dread having to do so. These two statements are related.

"There's more than one way to do it" is, for me, a negative, at least in the Perl implementation of it; while there are cases where multiple ways to do the same thing is great (for example, C#'s foreach versus the IEnumerable extension method that takes a delegate/lambda), I don't think that's the case here. The pathological decisions toward terseness are, in my experience, the root cause of one guy's Perl being unreadable to the next; this may be a cynical statement, but (said with tongue firmly in cheek) when you give a programming language capable of expressing significant logic with one character, the guy who uses vim will do so, and damn the next guy who has to pick it up and work with it later.

Say what you will about something like Java--and oh man, have I said all of it--but the language does tend toward readability (at the cost of boilerplate); it's relatively hard to write correct code that will elicit WTFs from the next guy who has to maintain it. In my experience, WTFs are somewhat par for the course with inherited Perl.

(I find Python to generally encourage the Right Thing as well, though it's easier to write monstrosities in that, too, than I would really like. C#, for me, hits the sweet spot, but doesn't exactly work so well as a scripting language.)

None of this should be construed to say that you cannot write clean Perl. Surely you can, and I've certainly encountered some of it. But I think "there's more than one way to do it" is more of a crutch for "write byte vomit, it'll just work" than you'd like to admit.


Just so you know, there is somewhat of a movement afoot in Perl these days. Many of us long term Perl programmers know well the dangers of TIMTOWTDI. So we have created TIMTOWTDI-BSCINABTE (pronounced TimToady Bicarbonate) and stands for "But Sometimes Consistency Is Not A Bad Thing Either". This has come specifically out of the Moose community and basically pushes to try and spread consistent best practices throughout the community.

I think the issue you encounter is a combination of isolation (the more involved you are in the community, the more you are exposed to best-practices and idiomatic Perl) and the quality of some of the older Perl documentation and books. In some of these older documents there was an emphasis put on "cleverness through TIMTOWTDI" which really had a damaging effect on some people (read: the people whose code you have inherited).

Perl is an extremely flexible language, which in the right hands can be very powerful. However, as Uncle Ben said, with great power comes great responsibility. I personally would rather my language require a little more self discipline from me 90% of the time, so that in the remaining 10% of the time I can hack some really crazy shit to get the job done.


I've noticed that most folks who default to Perl tend to write Perl in a manner largely inconsistent with the next guy's.

I don't know how 'Perl crowd' is a distinct set of people. Speaking of programmers in general. If a group/person have/has bad habits/practices. That's going to spill over to any language they/he is ever going to use.

No single language is an exception to this. By the way yesterday there was thread going on about how some one lost all his changes because he didn't commit his code regularly and blamed the problem squarely on git.

Now here is the problem, how would have any other VCS saved from making this mistake. Languages do very little to influence a person habits.

Besides there isn't a single language on earth today in which you can't write bad code.




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