[oclug] Why Perl is a Bad Language
linuxdoctor at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 22 15:29:02 EST 2001
--- Dan Cardamore <wombat at hld.ca> wrote:
> I think that perl is the swiss army knife of programming. It can
> almost anything... But it is maybe not the best at everything. In
> case its still my favorite language.
And that's great too. It's interesting that you used the description
"swiss army knife or programming." That's what programming in
Unix/Linux is all about in anycase. Perl just puts it in one place
for you. The downside is that it's a lot of the time slower than
using the tools that the Perl structure was based on.
The evolution of perl was a sort of amalgum of unix tools into Perl.
For those who know perl well they tend to use it to do what the other
tools were designed for which is good too. However, as it happens, a
lot of programmers simply call up the Unix tools themselves from
within Perl which defeats the purpose. There are of course special
libraries that you can load, but that adds to bloat and performance
hits as well.
I guess my main objection is more how about Perl is used as compared
to the how it's supposed to be used. There is a very vociferous Perl
community out there promoting Perl as a General Purpose Programming
Language, which it simply isn't. There is an old rule in latin: lex
orandi, lex credendi which translated means (literally) how you pray
shows what you believe. The same can be said about the use of
programming tools: lex programmi, lex credendi. Do you really believe
in Linux if you use the bloat within Perl? Just a question.
However, given that Perl is available on non-unix boxes (note the way
I phrased that) which tends to be very limited in it's toolset, it is
understandable how this had happened, and that as this crowd moves
over Linux they'll bring that attitude over with them. This we don't
need, of course. My advice to the Perl people who have availed
themselves of the freedom of the Linux world, learn some Linux tools
and you'll discover that for most of what you need to do you don't
need Perl at all.
However, I don't really want to get into a debate of language vs.
language because nobody wins. Each side trotts out their list of
reasons why their choice is better. I prefer to show the strengths
and weeknesses of each and let others decide. However, in some cases,
such as Perl, the argument is so scewed by propoganda on one side
that being fair and even handed is in itself being unfair. That's why
my particular post focuses on Perl's downside only, as a counter to
all the propoganda.(1) I expect flames, so flame away.
1. There is the case of a pro-Perl programmer (whose name I can't
remmeber Paul somebody, and well known in Perl circles) who made a
comment that weak typing within Perl is a negative point of the
language. He was immediately flamed as a traitor. Some people
observed that strong typing in languages is an old fashioned notion
and besides who would want strong data typing. Yes, old fashioned
like in Object Oriented Programming Languages that Perl tries (very)
hard to imitate.
There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.
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