Laura's List - was Re: new years resolutions
andrew at indranet.co.nz
Wed Jan 8 05:21:26 CET 2003
--On Wednesday, January 08, 2003 04:57:00 +0100 Laura Creighton
<lac at strakt.com> wrote:
> I don't think that languages are wise, but they certainly can promote
> wisdom, or cleverness. One of the reasons Perl scripts are hard to
> maintain is that it is very easy to pour cleverness on cleverness.
> You get preoccupied with 'what minimal clever hack can I do today to
> modify this program to make it fit my new requirements'. Days, weeks,
> months after you should have tossed some code and written it with the
> new specs, you think that with one more tweak you can get it to work
> and 'save you rewriting it'. But the rewriting would have been faster
> and clearer. You waste your life trying to be clever. And there is
> something about Perl that encourages such unprofitable time-wasting.
> I still don't understand why this is so, but I have watched it in myself
> and others again, and again, and again.
It's the syntax, I'm sure. So much power in single characters, and the
canonical way of doing so many things is regexps.
The biggest thing that drives perl and C++ into hackishness, and Python,
Pascal and Lisp the other way, is syntactic regularity or lack thereof.
I'm not sure where C lies.
You can see the same thing in physics; contrast the notation of classical
mechanics with the operator algebra formulation of QM. Or even the
classical vs relativistic notations for relativistic EM.
I think the driving force is that a clean design takes more typing in Perl,
whereas in Python it's usually much, much less.
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