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"There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham

by grinder (Bishop)
on Apr 28, 2003 at 15:03 UTC ( #253714=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Paul Graham has issued a new essay, The Hundred-Year Language, on what programming will be like in 2103. As usual it's an excellent read, and as usual he makes reference to Perl, as usual damning it with faint praise.

Language design is being taken over by hackers. The results so far are messy, but encouraging. There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl, for example. Many are stunningly bad, but that's always true of ambitious efforts. At its current rate of mutation, God knows what Perl might evolve into in a hundred years.

What I'd really like to know is, what does he consider stunningly bad? The @_ parameter passing mechanism? Things that the Perl community considers failure themselves (e.g. v-strings, pseudo-hashes)? Absence of a lisp facility, such as macros? Difficulty of manipulating the op-tree at run-time?

Now, I'll admit that there are a number of things in Perl are at best a bit of a botch, but from there to something being stunningly bad...

I'll also admit I'm probably standing too close to see the forest for the trees, so you tell me, what is stunningly bad in Perl?

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Comment on "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
(jeffa) Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by jeffa (Chancellor) on Apr 28, 2003 at 15:28 UTC

    "...what does he consider stunningly bad?:

    Larry spelled Perl wrong ... it should be L-I-S-P.

    Hey ... Perl can keep on being stunningly bad ... i will stunningly keep on using it! :P

    jeffa

    L-LL-L--L-LL-L--L-LL-L--
    -R--R-RR-R--R-RR-R--R-RR
    B--B--B--B--B--B--B--B--
    H---H---H---H---H---H---
    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
    
Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Apr 28, 2003 at 15:34 UTC

    Language design is being taken over by hackers.

    Sounds to me like a man who has been stuck in his lonely and lofty academic tower bitching about why all those normal people out there just won't listen to what he says, or even agree with him.

    Who does he expect to design languages well? The people who use programming languages every day, all day, and most nights too? Or the people who wear tweed jackets and wander the halls of acedemia, wonderfully free of responsibility, time pressure, budget constraints and a PHB? (/me nods respectfully to the Profs he knows who arent like this.)No no, i'll have my languages written by hackers thanks (As in C, C++, Perl, Java, even C# my new love afair). The profs don't have the best record (as in Pascal, Modula-2, Prolog, Lisp, Turing, APL, etc). I mean sure these languages all have their fine points, but writing business type apps in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable budget doesn't seem to be one of them.


    ---
    demerphq

    <Elian> And I do take a kind of perverse pleasure in having an OO assembly language...

    • Update:  
    I didnt read the whole paper when I first wrote this. Now I have. It includes the comment

    The trend is not merely toward languages being developed as open-source projects rather than "research", but toward languages being designed by the application programmers who need to use them, rather than by compiler writers. This seems a good trend and I expect it to continue.

    So it seems he agrees with me :-)


      Glad to see your update. Now I won't bother to flame you. Instead I will tell you to read the rest of his articles and realize that his claim to hackerdom is several orders of magnitude better than yours.

      You might even wind up re-evaluating some of the languages that you casually dismissed above.

        I agree to a point. We may be too close to the source, but I believe it goes both way. I think Paul has Lisp blinders and that anything not Lisp will always be less than Lisp.

        -Lee

        "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."

        I will read the articles. And I may well deserve some heat, if not actual flaming for this node. OTOH, I stand by my comment. Why the hell would ANYONE be suprised that hackers have a thing or two to say about designing programming languages? Why would they be suprised that hackers might come up with some fine ideas? And frankly I only feel more vidicated by the comment by my re-reading of the article. To me it seems that a good chunk of his article is taken up with explaining away why those in academia is falling behind. For instance this

        It's not true that those who can't do, teach (some of the best hackers I know are professors), but it is true that there are a lot of things that those who teach can't do. Research imposes constraining caste restrictions. In any academic field there are topics that are ok to work on and others that aren't. Unfortunately the distinction between acceptable and forbidden topics is usually based on how intellectual the work sounds when described in research papers, rather than how important it is for getting good results. The extreme case is probably literature; people studying literature rarely say anything that would be of the slightest use to those producing it.

        seems to be me to be an attempt to explain why those poor academics are getting outclassed by a bunch of ragtags coding in their basements for glory and not money. Its all because of those horrible 'caste restrictions' and that its more important to write an intellectual paper than it is to write a useful one.

        So If Graham can spend a good chunk of that article explaining why Academia is falling behind The Real World, then I dont feel bad for pointing out the same, and for being less forgiving of it than he is.

        realize that his claim to hackerdom is several orders of magnitude better than yours

        Yes, no doubt. And of course Newton's claim to be a great physicist is several orders of magnitude greater than just about everybody that followed him. Doesn't change the fact that he spent the latter part of his life talking absolute rubbish most of the time. Nor did it mean that those that followed him werent entitled to criticize what he said.

        Im not saying that Graham is doing that (totally talking rubbish), but his past laurels are as irrelevent to the discussion at hand as are your or my own programming skills.

        Oh and do you really think that Ill end up reevaluating some of those languages? Just in case you missed it Ill put up the caveat I included originally. Bolding added however.

        but writing business type apps in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable budget doesn't seem to be one of them.

        Anyway, heres to posting before you think it through fully, and the results that can occur.... *grin*

        Cheers,


        ---
        demerphq

        <Elian> And I do take a kind of perverse pleasure in having an OO assembly language...
      The profs don't have the best record (as in Pascal, Modula-2, Prolog, Lisp, Turing, APL, etc).
      Erm... All of those languages were very successful in their own way and their own niche. (Well, OK, Modula-2's success is arguable, but...)

      Pascal was an extraordinarily good teaching language for an era where computer time was very scarce and expensive, and forced a discipline on the writing of programs that, while many people hated it (including me), was darned important. It also was used very heavily in the DOS days of IBM PCs and in the early days of the Macintosh.

      Prolog may well be the best example of a very specialized class of languages, and is still in heavy use in some fields, including AI.

      LISP was, and still is (though it suffered from a sort of feature creep that makes perl seem tame and unaltered by time in comparison) a language that embodies a huge number of fundamental concepts in computer languages including the unification of program and data and is, even now, still 10 or more years ahead of its time. (And it's older than you are)

      'Turing', as I'm not sure it was ever an actual language as such, forms a good chunk of the theoretical foundation for computers and computer languages.

      APL was for the longest time incredibly well suited for what it did--manipulation of vectors and matrices, using terse specialized notation. There was nothing better for its time, and still can't be beat for clean notation. (Its one failing was choosing a character set that made it difficult to use, though there are pure-ASCII versions these days. I should see about getting one ported to Parrot)

      Your condemnation of these languages, and no doubt others, is, I think, a bit naive, and reflects a limited view of the field. While they may not be important to you, or be useful in the limited area in which you spend your time, that neither makes them useless nor failures.

      Your definition of success and utility is, I think, rather more limited than it might seem at first glance.

        AFAIK, Prolog is even heavily in use in some large-scale custom software projects. It definitely has a niche that is quite hard to fill by languages like C++.

        I had to learn some Prolog, Modula/2, ADA, ML, Scheme and Lisp in the first two years of my CS studies. In hindsight, I really appreciate the exposure; it has given me a good foundation to learn new languages and it has teached me many concepts that I wouldn't have learned that well if I had only learned Java or C++, for example.

        Of course, these experiences also have led me to solidly dislike C/C++ *sigh*. I tend to think that too many apps are written in C++... makes me look forward to Parrot and Perl 6 even more!

        very successful in their own way and their own niche

        Yes I know. I was talking about for business use. The one that drives the vast majority of development that ends up paying the vast majority of our wages.

        [Pascal] also was used very heavily in the DOS days of IBM PCs and in the early days of the Macintosh.

        Indeed. A big chunk of the grphics layer of the Macintosh was written in Pascal. Or, well actually, no it wasnt. :-( It was written in something that resembled closely Pascal, but in fact was generally usable. Pascal as specified was virtually useless. Just about every implementation that was remotely useful jettisoned or changed the rules to make it work. Incidentally I cut my teeth programming TP3 on an 8088.

        LISP was, and still is

        I have a contemporary copy of the original proposal for the LISP machine from Mccarthy. Im well aware of the importance of LISP in a conceptual area. I am also well aware that there is virtually no business space code using it, and im also aware of some of the reasons why.

        'Turing'

        Was written by John Holt of UofT. And anybody that studied CS while he was there would have learned it. A pascal derivative designed to correct the errors of Pascal (such as bad error messages, see TheDamian's paper that he published on it, such as typing problems, see Dominuss article or Kernighams paper on the subject) while still keeping its strong orientation towards teaching. To be honest I generally hated the language, althogh it was the first time I had seem an auto-indenter (The turing interpreter came with an IDE that _enforced_ indentation) and all on one floppy too! ;-).

        APL was for the longest time incredibly well suited for what it did

        But I bet it wasnt used a whole lot outside of academia.

        Your condemnation of these languages, and no doubt others, is, I think, a bit naive, and reflects a limited view of the field. While they may not be important to you, or be useful in the limited area in which you spend your time, that neither makes them useless nor failures.

        Actually I didn't comdemn these languages. I observed that they were the product of an academic enviornment and that they were unsuited to a business enviornment. Which just happens to be what ends up getting most of us paid. This is not naive. This is real life.

        Your definition of success and utility is, I think, rather more limited than it might seem at first glance.

        I never stated my definition of success and utility. I stated a defintion for success and utility. And then claimed that those languages didnt meet it. And the dearth of job offers in these fields, the fact that these are not being discussed as the basis for new improvements, etc etc says that The Real World agrees with me. If any of these languages were more than I suggested then they would be being actively developed and extended as we speak. But they arent. We learned what there was to learn and now we are moving on.

        Now Perl on the other hand seems like something that the The Real World will be wanting for a long time. The fact that there is the support that you have for Parrot is an indicator of that. Would you prefer that a few select professors thought your work was The Shit, or tens or hundreds of thousands of developers who use it every day, swear and sleep by it, and even occasionally dream about it? Little tip: the latter, most of them, get paid for programming for business.

        , that neither makes them useless nor failures.

        Nope, and I didn't say it did either. All I said is that they werent the general success story of the others.


        ---
        demerphq

        <Elian> And I do take a kind of perverse pleasure in having an OO assembly language...
        Pascal was an extraordinarily good teaching language for an era where computer time was very scarce and expensive ...

        It's the best language for teaching structured top-down programming. It forces the student to do things "The Right Way", vs. hacking around. Later, when the student knows why s/he shouldn't do it "The Right Way", then "The Right Way" takes its place as merely "One Of Many Right Ways". But, that first initiation is still extremely important.

        I think that the move colleges are doing to teach in Java or C++ is bad. C++ is an extremely poor language to learn how to program in. It requires too much knowledge on the part of the student and allows too many shortcuts. While that's good for power users, students are, by definition, not power users.

        ------
        We are the carpenters and bricklayers of the Information Age.

        Don't go borrowing trouble. For programmers, this means Worry only about what you need to implement.

        Please remember that I'm crufty and crochety. All opinions are purely mine and all code is untested, unless otherwise specified.

      So, how about those of us who use Lisp to write business apps? :-)
      The profs don't have the best record (as in Pascal, Modula-2, Prolog, Lisp, Turing, APL, etc). I mean sure these languages all have their fine points, but writing business type apps in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable budget doesn't seem to be one of them.

      I have to disagree.

      Pascal is hardly a fair example. At the time it first appeared it rocked - I'd much prefer it to FORTRAN or assembler. Now, of course, there are better options. At the time there were not. Language design improves, both inside and outside academia.

      I know of very large and serious companies with large amounts of mission critical code written in Prolog, LISP and APL. Actually, I've never considered APL to be an academic language - I've only ever come across it being used by stats fiends in industry.

      Prolog is a language I regularly miss, since it's quite hard to write code in a declarative/logicial style in Perl.

      Judging the worth of a language by its commercial success isn't that useful. Perl, after all, doesn't come out very well on that scale. Neither does Python, Ruby, TCL, etc. COBOL and VB, on the other hand, must be great!

      Commercial usage has a lot more to do with fashion, marketing and FUD than it does with the utility of the language.

      I find it mildly amusing that the Lisp FUD ("slow", "all those brackets make unmaintainable code", etc.) is so close to the Perl FUD ("slow", "all those $@% make unmaintainable code", etc.)

      I find it even more amusing that things that used to be bad ("Common Lisp has this ghastly abstract machine that makes everything far to slow to be useful") suddenly become good ("Java has this great abstract machine that makes it portable"). There is a lot of truth in the line that languages become more like LISP as they grow up.

      Personally I would much rather code an application in Common Lisp than I would in C++, and in my experience Lisp hackers are much closer to Perl hackers in outlook that Java/C++ folk.

      I have to admit I don't see the same hacker/academic confrontation you see in the article. He comments on the fact that much language innovation has moved from the academic world into the industrial/open-source world, and says nice things about the result. That's a fact and the reasons he gives seem reasonable to me. He's not saying "hacker languages bad, academic good" or "academic languages good, hacker bad". I can't see that he's expressing any surprise that this has happened either.

      Did somebody with a PhD bite you when you were young? :-)

        Hi adrianh. Stands to reason that about the only reply that actually analysed what i said was yours. *grin* Yes, I sometimes have a chip about "academia". Yes I went off on a rant that I probably shouldnt have. Do I still think that I had a point? Yes.

        I have to admit I don't see the same hacker/academic confrontation you see in the article.

        Well I admit I probably read more into it the first time than there was there. Hence the update. Hence the replies.

        I know of very large and serious companies with large amounts of mission critical code written in Prolog, LISP and APL. Actually, I've never considered APL to be an academic language - I've only ever come across it being used by stats fiends in industry.

        Well, I'll admit that I know of a number of specialist fields where these languages are commonplace. Are they used worth mentioning outside of these spheres? I would argue that no they arent. Because generally speaking they aren't particularly suitable to general purpose work. I think that if they were we would see them more often. (I recognize this is dangerously close to a very bad argument, but in this case I dont think I'm crossing the line.)

        Prolog is a language I regularly miss, since it's quite hard to write code in a declarative/logicial style in Perl.

        I think a lot of people find it hard to write code in a declarative/logical style. I think a lot of people have a hard time even understanding the ideas behind it. Its unsuprising to me that we dont see a lot of code written that way. Its confusing. Hell most people have a hard enough time understanding perfectly straightforward imperative programming, let alone the wacky stuff.

        Judging the worth of a language by its commercial success isn't that useful. Perl, after all, doesn't come out very well on that scale. Neither does Python, Ruby, TCL, etc. COBOL and VB, on the other hand, must be great!

        I'm not sure that I expressed myself clearly. I certainly didn't mean to imply commerical success in terms of financial benefit. I meant more in breadth of use, in the number of running applications/systems (pick a metric) that were written in the language, etc. Think of C. What percentage of the worlds applications, including many of the run-time engines of the languages we are discussing have been written in C? All of them? Most of them? And id be suprised if language vendors in the C market have profitted from that language anywhere near as much as some the really profitable langauges like Java and VB.

        Commercial usage has a lot more to do with fashion, marketing and FUD than it does with the utility of the language.

        You really think so? I dont think the corporate world is generally as foolish as that. I think the market works out what is what eventually. For instance anyone who looks really closely at a proper Pascal implementation (not one of the later and fairly common pseudo-pascals that wasnt quite real pascal) would see that it is quite inferior to another language, quite similar in outward looking functionality, that being C. This has a pretty good overview of what I'm talking about. My point is that I don't think any propaganda would have lead to Pascal superceding C. And as we know we didnt see it happen. C ended up everywhere. Pascal didn't. C ended up everywhere. Lisp didn't. More recent past IMO also indicates the same, despite the huge hype behind Java it hasn't eliminated any of the main competitors on the scene when it started, there are still signifigant markets it hasnt penetrated (and probably wont). It snagged a chunk of market share, but is it holding on to it? Is it growing?

        Personally I would much rather code an application in Common Lisp than I would in C++, and in my experience Lisp hackers are much closer to Perl hackers in outlook that Java/C++ folk.

        How many programmers feel the same? Most I know from Uni hated lisp. More to the point, would your boss pay you to do so? Would he like to have to hire someone to replace you?

        have to admit I don't see the same hacker/academic confrontation you see in the article. He comments on the fact that much language innovation has moved from the academic world into the industrial/open-source world, and says nice things about the result. That's a fact and the reasons he gives seem reasonable to me. He's not saying "hacker languages bad, academic good" or "academic languages good, hacker bad". I can't see that he's expressing any surprise that this has happened either.

        Saying no. At points dripping with implications? Yes for sure. Lets just take the original posted paragraph:

        Language design is being taken over by hackers.

        Read: The enemy is at the gates! (Read the update at the bottom)

        The results so far are messy, but encouraging.

        Read: Even though what they are doing is interesting, its messy so we can still look down on it.

        There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl, for example.

        We had better look out. These guys are on to something. :-(

        Many are stunningly bad, but that's always true of ambitious efforts.

        But dont worry. :-) We can still look down on them.

        At its current rate of mutation, God knows what Perl might evolve into in a hundred years.

        Read:Look these guys don't develop stuff, they put it down to wild chance and mutation. We dont need to worry about them. They'll be to the animals in a hundred years anyway.

        Ok, i'm laying it on a bit thick, but I think of chunk of his stuff was along those lines. Incidentally I think that has been long been an internal rivalry between the "profs" or "suits" and the "hackers" (for lack of a better term), even in the academic enviornment. A number of extremely prominent and influential computer pioneers never graduated. In the industry we see many competent people without degrees or certification. So to discover that they are doing interesting things is hardly a shock.

        Anyway, this whole thread has blown way out of proportion. (My fault :-( I went too far in my original post, but still feel that the underlying point (that nobody should be in any way suprised that innovation in our field can come from a hacker) was fair.


        ---
        demerphq

        <Elian> And I do take a kind of perverse pleasure in having an OO assembly language...

        • Update:  
        Orignally I sarcastically used the term "the indians are coming". I meant this to refer to North American hysteria about Indian (Native American) invasion in the earlier phases of colonisation. However at least one person felt offended by this statement and I have changed it to something without racial overtones. I apologise if I caused any offense.


      Damn man. Have you ever even used the languages you're trashing? Prolog and Lisp are two of the greatest languages even designed. They're extremely successful (far more than Perl). Just because they're not the best languages for writing your little cgi formmail scripts doesn't mean they're bad languages.

      C++ is a total mess, and I don't know what you think a "hacker" is, but it certainly isn't any of the people who designed Java. Look at Joy, he thinks we should stop all technical innovation because we're going to end up killing ourselves. Is that a hacker mentality? I think not.

      I'll gladly elaborate on my position once you have the slightest clue what you're talking about. Until then, adios.

        Damn man. Have you ever even used the languages you're trashing?

        Yes. Ok, what I did with APL barely counts. And if you read my mails instead of reacting to them you would notice I never trashed anything.

        Just because they're not the best languages for writing your little cgi formmail scripts doesn't mean they're bad languages.

        Ive never written a formmail in my life. Ive never written a CGI in anger. Presumably you think that doing so is insulting. I suspect that the many many monks that do use Perl in this way are less than impressed. Second as I said earlier, if you read the mails you would see I never said any of these languages are bad.

        but it certainly isn't any of the people who designed Java.

        Where did I suggest that Java was written by hackers?

        adios.


        ---
        demerphq

        <Elian> And I do take a kind of perverse pleasure in having an OO assembly language...
      As many people have pointed out, the languages that are described as unfit for business use aren't always. In particular, just as I've written ten-line perl scripts to do what would have taken 40 lines of (unreadable) C, I've written 10-line Prolog programs that did what would have taken 100 lines of Perl. And yes, I get paid. You said that it's good for AI - well, it's good for lots of other things. I haven't had the chance to code them myself, sadly, but what do you think phone switch controllers are written and debugged in these days? You betcha - Prolog (at least, according to my prof who was teaching us Prolog at the time). And their codebases are HUGE.

      Just my dime/5.

        I work for a telco. Our switch code is programmed in Pascal (at least in the countrys i work for/with pretty much anyway). Or was at one point anyway.

        Anyway, I agree with your point overall. (to be honest im replying without seeing which node youre replying to as i have a feeling i made an ass out of myself. part of growing up, but still... :-)


        ---
        demerphq

          First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
          -- Gandhi


Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by TimToady (Parson) on Apr 28, 2003 at 16:28 UTC
    Well, I can't speak for Paul Graham, but I think that many of the special global variables are stunningly bad, especially all those that relate to filehandles. Either form of select is a botch. It turned out to be a bad idea to overload $, @, and % as context selectors for the subscript.

    Basically, look at the Apocalypses from the viewpoint of figuring out what the p5-to-p6 translator will have to deal with, and that's where the stunningly bad bits tend to be.

Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by Abigail-II (Bishop) on Apr 28, 2003 at 19:04 UTC
    If there wasn't something stunningly bad about Perl, then why are so many people putting so much effort into Perl6, for almost 3 years now, with the end not in sight yet?

    Perl6 isn't there because of v-strings or pseudo-hashes.

    Abigail

      then why are so many people putting so much effort into Perl6

      Because they don't like Python?

      Perl6 isn't being developed because Perl5 is stunningly bad, but because developers have a vision for something Ever So Much More So. There's a lot of space between pie-in-the-sky and stunningly bad.

      Update: It's probably the Perl5 to Perl6 transition that he's talking about when he marvels at how rapidly it's changing. And that suggests that the "stunningly bad" ideas could well be proposed features of Perl6.


      We're not really tightening our belts, it just feels that way because we're getting fatter.
Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by petesmiley (Friar) on Apr 28, 2003 at 19:13 UTC
    Hmm, well I read the essay. I would not consider that faint praise. It seems to me he is giving it a lot just by suggesting that it might be around in a hundred years.

    I think people who read this essay should keep one idea in mind. You cannot have the best method of doing something on the first try every time. Another words, a bunch of failures is a significant sign of a few great achievements.

    Look at other languages and tell me what great features they've introduced. How about their failures. You should compare all the languages on their failures and achievements before assuming the worst of what he says. To me a language that does nothing new is a failure. Even a language that only has failures is not a complete failure, you at least get somewhere by finding out what doesn't work.

    Although, I find it interesting that he has left out a couple of things that have affected programmers the most in the last 20 years.

    1. Marketing and corporate backing. Which don't seem even to be remotely related to quality or success of a languages features.
    2. Libraries. To me, the true health of a language is dependant on the health of it's libraries. What good are small sets of axioms without enormous libraries for doing everything. Instead you are left with a language that is the equivalent of a doorstop...but worse, you have to write 1000 lines of code to make it hold the door open. This saying holds well for perl (it's someones sig), 90% of every perl program is already written (not sure if quoted correctly). How many other languages can you say this about.

    Finally, I have a genuine question to ask. I don't memorize many popular people...hack or otherwise. Exactly how much perl does Paul Graham know?

    smiles

      Yes, you quoted it correctly. *grins*

      And, yes, Paul Graham could be considered a passable Perl programmer. ;-)

      ------
      We are the carpenters and bricklayers of the Information Age.

      Don't go borrowing trouble. For programmers, this means Worry only about what you need to implement.

      Please remember that I'm crufty and crochety. All opinions are purely mine and all code is untested, unless otherwise specified.

Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by adrianh (Chancellor) on Apr 28, 2003 at 19:37 UTC
    As usual it's an excellent read, and as usual he makes reference to Perl, as usual damning it with faint praise.

    Personally, I didn't think it was very faint. Quite the opposite. I've always had the impression that PG rather likes Perl - probably because of the stuff it stole from LISP ;-)

    I'll also admit I'm probably standing too close to see the forest for the trees, so you tell me, what is stunningly bad in Perl?

    For me stunningly bad things are:

    • The cryptic $\, etc. variables.
    • Lack of good encapsulation.

    Those two things alone would remove 90% of the FUD I have to deal with when advocating Perl.

    The Perl 5 VM is also a very, very scary thing (well - the source code scares me anyway :-) Messing with the op/parse tree at run time can be hugely useful since you can create domain specific languages really easily. A good abstract VM makes this simple (yay Parrot!)

    (Please include the standard "I like perl and think its advantages more than outweigh its disadvantages" disclaimer ;-)

Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by benn (Priest) on Apr 28, 2003 at 20:16 UTC
    Wellll....it's 'funny-looking', isn't it? All that '$' and '@' nonsense - that's for colonial money and emails! When I was a lad, you could say "I'll have an integer please Bob" - none of this wishy-washy "is it a string? is it a float?" stuff. Why - I remember as if it were yesterday, saying to Babbage (in the Rat & Prime Minister over a pint of Old Bitcount) that he should have been thinking about whether a string was *working class* or not.
    But we were terribly, terribly drunk...

    Ben.
Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by toma (Vicar) on Apr 29, 2003 at 05:56 UTC
    Paul Graham may not find much success as a futurist, but it is a rarified profession. In fairness, much of his article was toungue-planted-firmly-in-cheek, and it would be foolish to consider it to be a thoughtful critique of, say, XML, which is also referenced.

    One big opportunity for improving perl will be making the punctuation easier to use, for example, the Perl 6 improvement that will allow me to write @var[5] instead of $var[5].

    The idea of using punctuation to mark variables is a big part of the success of perl. It makes it possible to add keywords to the language without breaking old code. Much of my C code used a variable named 'new', which didn't work out so well in the next version of the language.

    For more than 30 years, I have written in languages that mark the variables in a way similar to perl's. I expect that this idea will survive the next 100 years of language design.

    Graham is trying to inspire thought about which computer language ideas will survive the next 100 years.

    A good professor teaches you how to think, not what to think. Lacking that, he or she just asks interesting questions.

    "To understand the past, you must understand the future." - William Gibson (?)

    It should work perfectly the first time! - toma

Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by perlplexer (Hermit) on Apr 29, 2003 at 14:33 UTC
    Language design is being taken over by hackers
    Taken over? Perl was designed and owned by hackers all along... ;)

    --perlplexer
Re: "There are some stunningly novel ideas in Perl" -- Paul Graham
by iisaphd (Novice) on Apr 29, 2003 at 19:32 UTC
    All right,
    but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what has Perl ever done for us?
    Paraphrased from The Life of Brian

    -iisaphd

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