Beefy Boxes and Bandwidth Generously Provided by pair Networks
go ahead... be a heretic
 
PerlMonks  

Re^5: Use of wantarray Considered Harmful

by Your Mother (Canon)
on Dec 14, 2008 at 05:48 UTC ( #730254=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^4: Use of wantarray Considered Harmful
in thread Use of wantarray Considered Harmful

My level of language skills is in perpetual descent. :) But I'm down with the context. As long as things are well documented I don't mind context sensitivity a bit and it can make hacking easier when applying the same underlying code in different places. E.g.: I find I would rather DBIC return an iterator for use in TT2 and a collection of objects in most CLI stuff so I like the fact that DBIx::Class::ResultSet->search does both. And yes I know about search_rs but it wasn't around in the early days and I like the idiom without just fine.

Update: I see that my use case in agreement with dragonchild above. Surprise, surprise! ...there is really only one good use of wantarray - to return an array or an iterator.


Comment on Re^5: Use of wantarray Considered Harmful
Select or Download Code
Re^6: Use of wantarray Considered Harmful
by BrowserUk (Pope) on Dec 14, 2008 at 09:50 UTC
    Surprise, surprise! ...there is really only one good use of wantarray - to return an array or an iterator.

    Hm. I agree that is a very good use case. And by itself, it justifies having context sensitivity. But once you have context sensitivity, it is certainly not the only good use case.

    Perhaps my most often used built-in examples are localtime; m//g; readline (often as not as the diamond operator). These return a scalar or list.

    Another contention above is: "a subroutine should return one and only one type of entity.". Not only does the "iterator or array" assertion flatly contradict this--an iterator is either a scalar or a coderef; but certainly not an array--but from another view point, a subroutine can either return a list, or a scalar (or nothing). And a scalar is just a single element list. And nothing is the empty list.

    That makes the return always of one type: a list of 0, 1, or many elements. Sounds pretty CS to me.

    Context only becomes a problem when you stop thinking in Perl and start thinking in terms of some other language, or overarching paradymn. Just as Great Circle math becomes a problem if you are a flat earther.


    Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
    "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
    In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
      What I meant by that was that the subroutine should always return the same information - changing context should be lossless. Hence, an array vs. an iterator (or an arrayref). But, not an array vs. the first element.

      As for your examples: localtime does array vs. joined array. That's on the border of acceptable. The diamond operator and readline are lossless - they are their own iterators (which is another rant for another day). m//g always returns a list - what you do with that list is your decision.


      My criteria for good software:
      1. Does it work?
      2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
        What I meant by that was that the subroutine should always return the same information - changing context should be lossless. Hence, an array vs. an iterator (or an arrayref). But, not an array vs. the first element.

        I still think you are missing the point. The assumption is that in the latter case, that the routine must be calculating the entire array and then discarding most of the data in a scalar context. But that just isn't the case.

        In the case of the each sub the routine can detect the scalar context and avoid a potentially costly determination of the value if the user only wants the key. That's a 50% or potentially much higher optimisation. And that for a sub that returns just a 2 element list:

        sub each { ... return wantarray ? ( getKey(...), getValue(...) ) : getKey(...); }

        For a sub like caller, if the user only wants the calling package name--which probably accounts for 90% of uses--then detecting scalar context to avoid walking a complex AST to gather the rest of the information that the user would only then discard, is again, a very useful optimisation. Think about something like Moose which needs to detect the caller package a lot, and how much more slowly it would run if caller went through the process of gathering all the 11 possible values, everytime the calling code just need the first.


        Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
        "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
        In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

        m//g always returns a list - what you do with that list is your decision.

        Aside from the fact that it's impossible for an operator to return a list in scalar context, m//g behaves quite differently in scalar and in list context.

        It can act as an iterator (which I think you consider as being the same as a list for the discussion):

        while (/.../g) { ... }

        But it's not an iterator in this tokenizer:

        /\G( ... )/g or die; my $token1 = $1; /\G( ... )/g or die; my $token2 = $1; ...

Log In?
Username:
Password:

What's my password?
Create A New User
Node Status?
node history
Node Type: note [id://730254]
help
Chatterbox?
and the web crawler heard nothing...

How do I use this? | Other CB clients
Other Users?
Others exploiting the Monastery: (9)
As of 2014-11-21 00:14 GMT
Sections?
Information?
Find Nodes?
Leftovers?
    Voting Booth?

    My preferred Perl binaries come from:














    Results (103 votes), past polls