Sep. 18th, 2013

So, I've been using Perl yet again, as the utility I've been working on, buck-security, is written in Perl. And it does leave something to be desired. Here's a few of the things that have bothered me since I've been using it a bit more.

1) There is no interpreter. This is a pain, because it is an obstacle in the way of experimentation. There is a trick, which is run it in the debugger, but this is a cumbersome trick and should be unnecessary. I have no real idea why there is no interpreter; it could be history, it could be philosophy.

2) There is strange semantics, often. The comma is an operator which concatenates things in a strange and unpredictable way. If you are more used to Python, the comma is a false friend.

3) Perl positively encourage global variables. 99% of the time, a global variable eventually has to be changed to a more local variable and then you always wish you, or the person who originally wrote the code, had started out in the right way, with a local variable.

4) The "grep" function is not about regular expressions. This is deceptive. It should have been called filter, because that is what it does. This problem is probably due to history.

5) The fact that arguments and return values are always arrays but are dressed up to look like something else is unfortunate. This can cause problems, because a small mistake will result in one argument overwriting another. This has probably been the source of about 1/2 million Perl bugs since Perl began. I had a few myself.



September 2013

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