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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • man-u-al?
    • Dogbert's tech support: "While you hold, read the free novel we've enclosed. It's a Spanish story, about a guy named 'Manual'."
  • "Modern languages have so many features that they must keep the grammar small in order to reduce the learning curve" ... for tool writers.

    God knows it makes life easier.

    My (modified and I hope more accurate) argument would be that a simpler syntax makes writing editors and other tools easier, and the quality of the tools make learning and using a language easier.

    Perl doesn't do well on that metric either :/

    • You're right, it is all about context, and even then, it is very subjective. Which is why we have so many languages with so many differences. We don't agree very much on the Best Way.

      I read some of this article and man, it's got screwy logic. Like "variables are global by default" is bad. Why? There's no objective truth there. And if he doesn't like it, use strict and the problem goes away. BFD.

      And then there was this gem:

          ${$arrayRef}[0]=4;  #YUCK! Modify the callers array.


      • > I think it shows that he doesn't really understand Perl, and he is arguing largely from ignorance.

        Yup, pretty much.

        I'd say there's really not any useful points to recover from that article, except what we already know about the relationship between grammar and tool quality.
    • That's an important insight, I think. I wouldn't have had such a good relationship with perl if I hadn't had one with my editor.

      grammar: Language Acquisition Device
      tools: Language Acquisition Support System
  • The assertion that keeping a grammar small reduces the learning curve of a language with lots of features baffles me.

    It shouldn't baffle you. It's an old prejudice, and it needs to be examined in context.

    It dates back to the bad old days, when computers were small, languages were simple and static, keyboards sucked, no one had good typing skills, and programmers had to use different languages periodically. Or, worse yet, they had to switch between this quirky extended version of a pre-standardized language and that quirky but differently extended version of the same pre-standardized language.

    The hardest thing t

    • All of which means, anyone who is still talking about syntax and big grammars being hard is still living in the 1970s and 1980s, laboring under these old prejudices, and really isn't worth engaging in a debate about modern programming.

      I get the feeling a fair few of the people who say these things have only used one or two languages in the Algol family and haven't ventured much outside the realm of procedural/OO programming. Maybe I'm lucky that my first programming language was C-64 BASIC and I switch

      • It really is a pity that people with such shallow experiences have such superficial reactions to different programming idioms.

        It really is a pity that people with no understanding of foreign policy hold court on what their nation's military strategy should be.

        It really is a pity that people with no background in either mathematics or economics have such shallow views on foreign trade.

        This problem is not endemic to us. These people are idiots. There is no chance in changing their mind, or educating them by pointing out the latent prejudices in their arguments, or any other means for that matter. Just walk away.

  • ...always tell me that python is so great because you just see what it does, even if you don't know python.

    Oddly enough, I don't. I guess there must be something wrong with me.

    To the topic, I think people just confuse syntax and semantics. I'd personally also agree with the post you published yesterday, that lisp/scheme has a much easier to understand "syntax."
    Ordinary morality is for ordinary people. -- Aleister Crowley
  • Does Ruby have a free, installed manual yet? It has ri, and passable docs for its core libraries, but what about its syntax? I can't find a damned thing on Ruby syntax, so I wonder whether you are wrong.
    • Programming Ruby 1e [] is available online for free, and it's recent up to Ruby 1.6. Why would you want an installed version? You're not on an airplane! You're not on a bus! C'mon, old timer. Get on the trolley.

      • Yeah, and using an educational text instead of a manual is great, because it means you get to enjoy the pedagogy every time you just need to check what a colon does. Thanks!

        Whatever, I don't ever program in Ruby, just Ruby-powered DSLs.
      • You're not on an airplane! You're not on a bus! C'mon, old timer. Get on the trolley.
        But, if you _happen_ to be constantly on train/airplanes/busses, apt-get install rubybook will do the trick... for some of us ;-)
  • he rants against ruby's yield !!! I think he didn't know about generators, etc,... I thought the article was not serious while reading it: The biggest problem I have with a new language is SEMANTICS, not syntax (ok, sometimes the way syntax express the semantics), but only if the semantics are too alien for me (like Haskell... I didn't grok it yet, but I'm trying).
    • The biggest problem I have with a new language is SEMANTICS, not syntax...

      Exactly. A programmer who continually focuses on the syntax of the language is like a writer who can't remember how to put together sentences. Don't expect great results.