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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • by wickline (135) on 2003.03.30 11:13 (#18503) Journal
    As I read that rant, the 'Big Problem' with perl is that it makes it easy to work with bad data (particularly poorly-formated data), and so perl programmers will tend to work with bad data rather than working to change whatever process produced the bad data so that they can work with good data.

    Suppose I grant that it is a flaw to work with bad data rather than to work to fix the process which produced that data. Suppose further that I grant that there is a correlation between languages which allow programmers to work with bad data and the tendancy of programmers using those languages to work with bad data rather than to work to fix the process which produced the bad data.

    Granting those premises does not allow me to conclude that those languages are flawed. Instead I can only conclude that overly many programmers are falsely lazy. The rant should be focused on the lack of discipline in the perl programmer population. As many perl programmers come from a diverse set of backgrounds, frequently with little formal programming education, this is not really a shock.

    My understanding of Lisp is that most practitioners come from computer science and AI/cogsci backgrounds, or approach Lisp as a second/third/Nth language after learning that they enjoy playing with neat languages. The population of Lisp programmers probably has more programmers with formal training, or at least with more prior programming experience.

    So, Erik may be comming from that background and seeing the Perl programmer population as a horde of amatures with no discipline. Maybe he's right. Perl lets programmers speak 'baby talk' as they learn the language. However, the fact that one can get work done after learning a tiny fraction of the language is not a flaw in the language. If a manager hires someone who only knows a tiny fraction of the language and expects them to work on critical projects, the flaw is with the management.

    Erik is witnessing managment flaws combined with a language which has a shallow learning curve, and incorrectly (IMO) drawing the conclusion that the language is fundamentally flawed. If O'Reilly were to publish as many Lisp books as they have Perl books, and Lisp were to have a CLAN as cool as CPAN, then I suspect it would only take a few years for Erik to become equally disgusted with Lisp.

    -matt

    P.S.: CLAN is a cool acronym... maybe they really should do that ;)