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chromatic (983)

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Wednesday September 12, 2007
07:25 PM

Completely Subjective Reasons I Prefer Perl to Python

[ #34430 ]

On p.r.c, sverrejoh asked Why do you prefer Perl the language over Python the language? My completely subjective and personal answer for me and me alone there seemed worthwhile to repost.

I find Perl much more expressive. Perhaps it's that as I've watched Python develop, I've seen more and more of the Python best practices converge toward a single development style (heavy on Pythonic OO), where Perl has deliberate support for custom individual or shop styles.

I don't think it's bad that Python tends toward a single and identifiable Pythonic style; it's very much within the language philosophy.

I don't think it's necessarily good to encourage multiple paradigms in a language or platform. It's useful if they integrate well.

I like Perl because I think it has sufficient expressiveness and abstraction while supporting different development paradigms (functional, imperative, several types of object-oriented) without forcing any one and making the others feel unnatural (whether technically or culturally). When I write Perl, I feel like I get to choose the most appropriate style of development. When I write Python, I feel like the language and libraries suggest very strongly that my code conform to their ideas.

That's pretty subject, I admit--and I also admit that there's plenty of code on the CPAN that enforces certain styles. Sometimes that's for good reasons (SAX processing) and other times it isn't.

I suppose I feel similarly about Mac OS X versus GNU/Linux.

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  • I get a reinforced impression that when people say "python is more readable than perl", they are really trying to say that "alphanumeric characters are more readable than non-alphanumeric characters".
    • Several hundred million people whose native languages have ideographic, not phonetic, representations might disagree.

    • This is also why I don't like gravatars! ;-)