SPUG: One Python users' view of Perl

Michael R. Wolf MichaelRWolf at att.net
Thu Jun 14 14:00:50 PDT 2007

As a warm-up for Bill's upcoming talk, I'd like to share a recent
Perl/Python conversation I had with a stranger.  If you have similar
insights, perhaps they could add some insights to the group, and feed the
discussion for next weeks' meeting.

Seeing a GNU shirt on a fellow patron at my favorite coffee shop, I struck
up a conversation.  When I mentioned that I was a Perl evangelist (i.e.
instructor, user, and community member), he shared that he never did quite
like Perl, so I asked him why.  

In a nutshell, he said that when he was looking at existing Perl code that
there were too many "idioms" ("non-obvious clever linguistic nuances", by my
reading of his intent) to learn in order to be effective.  TMTOWTDI was
*not* his friend.  He found that Perl programmers reveled in TMTOWTDI,
choosing to solve a particular problem with too many ways.  By contrast, the
Python community seemed to standardize on one way.  He preferred that.  And
as new idioms became more popular, the older ones were abandoned, with code
rewritten to use the more "modern" forms.

My personal opinion is [Self-editor note:  Paragraph shortened
considerably...  blah, blah, blah.  Perl is expressive, and efficient.  Perl
is not canonical.  The expressiveness can go too far.]

BUT... ultimately, it doesn't matter what *I* think (as an trainer), or what
*you* think (as a user).  If the language, the culture, and the community
are to grow, what matters is what the *outsiders* think.

Do you have an outsiders' view that you can share, personal or second-hand?
I'm too close to Perl to have much of an outsiders' insight, so I'd love to
learn what you think.


P.S.  If we, as insiders, listen, we'll learn more than if we defend.

Michael R. Wolf
    All mammals learn by playing!
        MichaelRWolf at att.net

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