First off, Contextual::Return
is a great idea and only makes the problem you're describing worse. I've tried it several times and cannot do anything but ignore it.
Second, there is really only one good use of wantarray - to return an array or an iterator. Array vs. arrayref is tolerable, but only barely. Array vs. first element is completely useless. The key here is that even though different context is used, the same thing is being returned. If you do array vs. first element, you're changing the semantics of the function - it does something different. Arrays vs. iterators are the same thing. Arrays vs. arrayrefs suck because of Perl's syntactic differentiation between arrays/hashes and references to them and the difficulty in determining scalar type. But, given that "scalar" is a type and the various reftype() values are more subtypes than first-class types, this isn't surprising. This, actually, is one of the things I'm looking forward to Perl6 the most - actual proper typing.
My criteria for good software:
- Does it work?
- Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?