SPUG: Does Perl Scale? (Was: Evolution of Perl)

Richard Anderson Richard.Anderson at raycosoft.com
Sat Aug 11 10:14:04 CDT 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kevin Watt" <kevin at economyart.com>

> He countered that perl isn't the best language for
> the job because it is hard to maintain when the project gets large (which
> have certainly had problems with in the past).  However, I feel that while
> perl's many options let you be lazy if you want to, you can certainly
> structure things (as with OOP) such that perl does scale well...  Anyways,
> I'd be interested in others' opinions on the matter.

Much as I like Perl, weakly-typed, free-form languages like Perl are not as
appropriate for large projects as C++ and Java are.  Since Perl doesn't have
any way of
enforcing compliance with subroutine interfaces for OO calls, it can be
difficult to
track down bugs in large systems.  It's easy to say that programmers
shouldn't create bugs, but using a strongly-typed language can produce a
better product.

More importantly, C++ and Java programmers tend to be more rigorous than
Perl programmers.  Damian's talk is a good illustration of some of the
warped programming styles that Perl can seduce programmers into.  (I realize
that he was writing a submission for the Obfuscated Perl Contest, but
unfortunately there are many Perl programmers who emulate this "cool"
style.)  Obfuscated programming can be done in Java and C++ too, but the
implicit OO structure of these languages discourages it.

Perl uses some non-standard OOP features that make it a bit awkward for OOP,
like being able to dynamically change your superclass at runtime and failing
to implicitly call a superclass's constructor.  Some might argue that these
are improvements over Java and C++, but they are still non-standard and can
induce confusion.  Python and Ruby are superior to Perl as object-oriented
languages since they were originally designed as OO languages rather than
Bourne shell / awk / C derivatives as Perl was.

This is a religious issue, and everyone has a different point of view.  My
utilitarian position is that Perl is just another tool in the programmer's
toolbox.  It has strengths and weaknesses that make it appropriate for some
situations and not appropriate for others.  Even a lame platform like VB on
Windows has its uses.


 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
     POST TO: spug-list at pm.org       PROBLEMS: owner-spug-list at pm.org
      Subscriptions; Email to majordomo at pm.org:  ACTION  LIST  EMAIL
  Replace ACTION by subscribe or unsubscribe, EMAIL by your Email-address
 For daily traffic, use spug-list for LIST ;  for weekly, spug-list-digest
  Seattle Perl Users Group (SPUG) Home Page: http://www.halcyon.com/spug/

More information about the spug-list mailing list