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(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

The party of Perl complexity junkies

Perl remains included by default in all major Linux distributions. Languages popularity metrics like TIOBE does not reflect usage Perl is system administration were it still is pretty prominent due to it synergy with bash programming and Unix in general. The versions used are rather old (Perl 5.16.3 in RHEL 7). So more recent version like version 5.32 will not see the mainstream deployment for a decade or so. And rightly so. As resources to develop Perl 5 are very scares the quality of recent releases is insufficient for heavy production use and that's probably explains such a delay.

Fiasco with Perl 6 which was launched despite the fact that there are no available resources for its development suggests that here are serious problem in Perl development community. One such problem is the rise of Perl complexity junkies which advocate making Perl fully object oriented language despite the fact that this approach inflicts heavy computational costs and is not optimal for the major area of use of Perl -- sysadmin scripts. The key part of this party are people connected with book publishing.  In this sense, some Perl authors book represent vanguard of the this part of Perl complexity junkies.

Ambitious Perl 6 project was launched in 2000 with no resources and no real new leader of Larry Wall caliber. Perl 6 has harmed Perl 5 acceptance, and distract many Perl programmers as it introduced element of FUD in the whole Perl ecosystem.

Also the party of Perl complexity junkies became more prominent in Perl development community than it should be. It did not produce much of value, but it scared a lot of people who otherwise would use Perl. 

The party of Perl complexity junkies became more prominent in Perl development community than it should be. It did not produce much of value, but it scared a lot of people who otherwise would use Perl. 

And it continued to the false impression that Perl is excessively complex language, that better should be avoided.  To me those people produce impression of people with a deep inferiority complex, who understands the limitation of their abilities but try to hide them with kind of "language bravado". Randal L. Schwartz is a typical example here. His books are very weak, especially Learning Perl.  Beginning Perl by Simon Cozens is a much better book. Still he enjoys the reputation of a guru.

The party of Perl complexity junkies developed in two main stages

I especially hate their misplaced OO fanaticism and its result in mangling of  many Perl standard modules which now are somewhat dangerous to use because of bugs introduced due to OO conversion (I do not consider developers who wave OO banner to be honest -- most of this type of people who I know personally are corrupt; that does not mean that all of then are dumb. Like corrupt bankers some of the them are pretty bright and still do their evil things for the sake of personal advancement at the expense of society at large ;-).

Stress on enhancing Perl OO capabilities prevented the introduction of much more needed and simpler to implement changes. If you look at the language changes from 2002 it is clear that the only important language feature introduced was state variables in version 5.10. No attention was paid for rampant for all C-style languages problem with misuse of = instead of ==, instruction of "soft semicolon" at the end of the line, named labels for { and { bracket with the possibility of PL/1 style "multiple closure (numeric local label in Pascal style would be OK)  and other features that diminish that chances of making errors for mere mortals. Of course, high priests of the cult will deny that such problems exists ;-) 

Only misguided dichotomy of == vs eq operators was (partially) addressed by   ~~ operator (which probably was a wrong  fix and its implementation turned into fiasco in any case.) 

I think that introduction of explicit typing would be simpler and probably better approach (it is actually available in Perl 6/Raku )  -- variables with explicit type should not be able automatically to be converted "down" (from string to numeric value, only up (from numeric value to string).  Somebody need to have courage to admit that arbitrary forced conversion mechanisms in Perl went a little bit too far and are a features and can creates difficult to detect bugs. It is probably high time to do the necessary legwork.

Still, if you look at perldelta for releases starting from 5.10 you would be amazed at the amount of useful work done by maintainers for free.


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Last modified: June 06, 2021