Your favorite language sucks

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The other day I posted a link to an article by Ted Neward called "Can Dynamic Languages Scale?" I thought it was interesting to see that an outsider saw the potential in Parrot, even though it's not at 1.0 yet. As an afterthought, I lamented that he made a dig at Perl at the end, smiley face or not. I meant it to have the same sort of gravity as saying "Aw, shoot, it's raining out." I didn't care that he didn't like Perl, but that he had to take a swipe. It certainly wasn't a big deal.

Apparently his article caused a minor uproar. Neward posted a followup called "So I Don't Like Perl. Sue Me" in response to the Perl folks arguing with his taste in languages. He shouldn't have had to do that.

your-favorite-band-sucks.jpg I don't get Radiohead. It's all ponderous and aimless. I also don't get Phish, Peter Gabriel and/or Genesis, Yo La Tengo or Tori Amos. But so what? It's personal taste. I don't like Java, either, although I haven't written any in the past 10 years. You know why I don't like Java? It just doesn't look like it's any fun. I'm sure people can explain to me why Java is great, but it won't change my mind. And it doesn't need to.

If you really want someone to love Perl, you'll have to show him, not tell him. Show him great code, great projects. Show the doubters that Perl can do amazing things. Action, not words. And if he still doesn't get it, that's OK.

6 Comments

It may be just me but I don't think you got the responses right. It wasn't that he took a swipe at Perl. It was the fact that is was a "good" article and any swipe however intended was unnecessary. At least that is how I read the responses.

Just want to say: I hate Perl too, in a lot of ways. The sigils, the blessed tacked-on OOP, the far-too-clever parser that I'm sure is going to evolve into SkyNet any day now. But I love Perl: Larry's liguistic philosophy, the regular expressions, the glory that is CPAN. I love it. I hate it. And I am deeply suspicious of anyone who has used it for any length of time and doesn't have very strong and completely contradictory feelings about it.

Don't worry if someone says they hate Perl. Worry if someone says they don't have an opinion, because it means they're giving out lobotomies on the National Health.

I don't think we can worry too much about this sort of thing. Do we think Perl sucks? I don't think many people who use it do. It's like worrying "is Perl dead?" - of course it's not dead.

Unlike some people I feel like some advocacy is called for, perhaps in response to this post. I'm confident that Perl 5 is superb and that Perl6 _might_ be even better.
The only trouble is: the same old case needs to be remade: CPAN is amazing, the community is amazing, Perl's power and flexibility is second to none. It's all been said before - and people like new things. But we need to keep saying it.

I've met Ted when he was a paid speaker at a Java symposium. I found him to be a wise-ass with strongly-worded opinions, but clearly very smart and experienced. While his words were painful for those of us who yearn for Perl to succeed, I think he was more in the right than his detractors, based on the comments posted to his blog.

After using Java off and on for many years, I've been using it almost full time for the last year. I've loved it. It's not the language itself I like, but the combination of Eclipse + Java. Java's strong typing means that Eclipse can infer a HUGE amount of detail about your code and make valuable suggestions for code completion, improvement and organization. Most of the time Java is still quite a bit slower to write than Perl, but at some tasks it is actually faster and is more likely to be correct before you run the first unit test. The Java analogues to Perl::Critic (Coverity, FindBugs, CodePro, CheckStyle, PMD) are WAY, WAY ahead of us.

I still think Perl's syntax is vastly better for humans, but Java's syntax is so much better for computers than Perl's that Java + Eclipse is a net win over Perl + Emacs.

That said, if someone writes a proper IDE implementation that takes advantage of Perl 6's better parsability (compared to Perl 5) and optional strong typing, I think my opinion will reverse. Will Rakudo support "use strict 'typing'"? :-)

w00t - Yo La Tengo and Perl in the same post.

Yo La Tengo and Tori Amos in the same sentence!

Yo La Tengo, after 20 years, have finally made it and became big rock stars. So big, that there are even people who DON'T like them, which is a proof of how great they are.

You can also turn it around and say the same things about Perl ...

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