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Passion for Perl

by kelan (Deacon)
on Sep 16, 2002 at 21:17 UTC ( #198374=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I found a small musing once, discussing being a Perl programmer. I thought this piece was particularly pertinent:
The phrase "foo programmer," where foo is a programming language, usually means "someone who writes programs in foo." But the phrase "Perl programmer" implies much more than, say, "C programmer" or "FORTRAN programmer" or even "assembly language programmer." You see, Perl programmers like to code in Perl. They like to code in Perl like they like to breathe.

It made me think about why this should be so. Personally, I've loved programming since I first started; years ago, before I knew of Perl. However, having now gotten used to Perl and learned it reasonably well, I must admit that I like it more than the other languages I know or have come into contact with. And I think that most programmers who like programming in and of itself, would very much like Perl. Again, the question comes: Why?

Part of it is right there in the Perl Creed: To make easy things easy, and hard things possible. It's very appealing to be able to easily do what many consider easy things. Not needing armfuls of setup for simple, natural, and commonly done tasks. Being able to start right in on the pieces that are more important: the hard things. The hard things that become possible with the flexibility and elegance that Perl provides.

Even more, though, I think the reason that those who like to program really like Perl is because it lets you do what you like: program. It isn't always getting in your way and confining you. Or making you find ways to sidestep limitations. In fact, Perl encourages the creativity and cleverness that makes programming enjoyable in the first place. It almost lets you express your ideas directly in code. Allowing you to mold it to your will, instead of forcing you to submit to its. You think doing something a different way makes more sense? Do it! Perl won't stop you, indeed it will usually help you.

The greatest testament to the Love of Perl is the community that has built itself up surrounding it. CPAN is full of modules written by people who want to make using Perl even better. And you can see the love in modules like the Quantum modules: cool and useful ideas from another realm brought to Perl. Or in the Acme modules, which are really examples of crazy people doing crazy things in that crazy language they love, Perl. But also in modules like POE or LWP or any of the other framework modules which I'm sure have taken countless hours to enhance and perfect, and because of that, are so useful.

Before I began using it, I had heard of Perl, usually disparagingly for how it looks like line noise or how having so many ways to do something is just confusing. But once I began using it, I realized how well it fits with the True Programmer, the one who loves doing it. Such freedom and power. Such ease and elegance. It truly is a wonder.


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Re: Passion for Perl
by sauoq (Abbot) on Sep 17, 2002 at 00:30 UTC

    Perl certainly has many virtues worth extolling and most of us have felt the need to sing its praises at one time or another. Doing so in this forum is relatively safe as you won't get much resistance. You are, as the saying goes, "preaching to the choir."

    That's not the case everywhere though and, as with operating systems, editors, window managers, and programming methodologies, every language has its followers. On Usenet or IRC, language fanaticism leads to little more than a good, hearty, old-fashioned, flame war. In a professional atmosphere, it might cost you a contract or a job.

    I think it is prudent to caution novices not to get too wrapped up in a language's strengths without also making an effort to understand that language's weaknesses. Knowledge of both will help you choose the right tools, write better programs, be a more effective advocate, and win (or at least survive) more flame wars.

    Edit: I meant "preaching to the choir" not "singing to the choir." Changed.

    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
      I really wasn't trying to preach to anyone. It wasn't my intention to write a persuasive essay on why to use Perl. I realize it isn't the best choice for every situation, and I didn't mean to convey that. I agree with you that novices should be informed to the strengths and weaknesses of a languages they are starting out on; it will help them make better decisions, which ultimately helps them become better programmers.

      My reason for writing was merely because I remembered that quotation the other day and it really kind of hit me why I like Perl so much. And since this is the only forum where I felt I could express that to people who would understand, I did so. Please forgive anything sounding preachy or Perl-zealotrish, it was unintended.


      Yak it up with Fullscreen ChatBox

        Please forgive anything sounding preachy or Perl-zealotrish, it was unintended.

        Forgive you for what? I enjoyed your node! Like I said, we are the choir. It would be downright hypocritical of me to pretend I could forgive anyone for being a Perl zealot! I used the word "preaching" only because the whole phrase "preaching to the choir" is idiomatic and means that the crowd you are talking to agrees with you. Besides, as we're in the monastery and all, I thought it fit. :-)

        Please accept my sincerest apologies for sounding critical. If anyone was, I was preaching... that temperance is a virtue.

        "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
Re: Passion for Perl
by TGI (Parson) on Sep 17, 2002 at 00:10 UTC

    Lots of sugar with salt to taste.

    TGI says moo

Re: Passion for Perl
by mischief (Hermit) on Sep 17, 2002 at 09:13 UTC
    I don't know about you, but the phrase "FORTRAN programmer" implies quite a bit to me...
Re: Passion for Perl
by hiseldl (Priest) on Sep 17, 2002 at 16:03 UTC
    I know that Perl permeates my thinking, because when I have to implement something in C++ (or any other language), I think about how I would write it in Perl first. e.g. I use the C++ STL, where I use 'map' for associative arrays, and 'vector' for lists, to translate my Perl thoughts into reality.

    "Act better than you feel"

Re: Passion for Perl
by ash (Monk) on Sep 17, 2002 at 15:17 UTC
    ...I'm not sure if the desire to code a JAPH i a good thing, though.

    ash/asksh <>

      I have used other languages in the past (Pascal, Modula, some C++, Fortran, Cobol,...etc) they were all powerful and did get the jobs that I was trying to do actually done. However since I've began to learn Perl and started using instead of all the above, I really began to feel that I can do anything, no other langue gave me this kind feeling...

      Yes, anything and everything I can do with Perl, there were no barriers, no tasks that are difficult to do and all impossible tasks were all possible (the Perl Creed is true), whether itís a Windows NT admin task, GUI, OLE, desktop application, reports generation, database access, sound and music related, the list is absolutely endless. Basically, What I am trying to say is that knowing Perl stopped me from thinking "What tool or language shall I use for this problem" to simple "Which Perl library that I need". And thatís that.

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