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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • by ziggy (25) on 2001.10.30 6:19 (#1732) Journal
    Elliotte is an interesting guy, but I've found him to be a little too opinionated at times.

    Yes, Perl has lagged a bit in terms of standardization of XML Processing modules when compared to Java. But that can be attributed to the nature of Java development vs. Perl development. Java developers tend to spend a lot of time creating one interface (e.g. SAX, DOM, JAXP) and then reimplement it a bunch of times. Technically, this is supposed to be better because the implementations are interchangeable and can focus on improving specific aspects of the implementation, such as runtime speed, memory usage, etc.

    Perl developers on the other hand tend not to focus as highly on interchangeable interfaces, but develop interesting new modules that can be fixed/extended by anyone sufficiently interested.

    So, while there aren't a bazillion SAX parsers for Perl, it's not necessarily an indication that Perl sucks at SAX. I tend to believe that Perl makes it easier to process Perl without needing something like SAX, so that the need for SAX isn't as great with Perl (or among Perl programmers; take your pick).

    Also, anyone who has done a significant amount of XML processing over the last few years knows that complete and comprehensive explicit XML structures are not the last word in markup and structure. I've come across many circumstances where a block of PCDATA has some implicit structure that needs to be parsed out using a regex or some other type of parsing. IIRC, this was the driver for Simon St. Laurent's tree fragmentations for XML.

    Now that I've mentioned Simon, wasn't he the one who recently looked at the state of Perl and XML and asked why Java techniques aren't as innovative? He was particularly interested in XML::Twig and possibly your XML::XPath (which was the first XPath parser and only XPath parser at the time IIRC).

    So, taking that together along with an assertion that "explicit structures are more easily addressed by a language like Java", I'd throw the whole piece into the FUD bucket along with the overused slur about Perl being unreadable after one week.

    Another way to look at it is through Gnat's glasses: Perl is used to develop real-world solutions by real people. If some technology isn't being used extensively with Perl it is probably an indication that it is not all that useful, not universal or not critical for solving problems in Perl's areas of strength. That XML is used everywhere, but not used for everything done with Perl is an indication that XML is useful but not universal. A brief look around demonstrates that XML is in fact not universal, and even within XML technologies, XML is not the complete (family of) solution(s) it purports to be.