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Re^3: Perl oddities

by Tanktalus (Canon)
on Mar 01, 2005 at 22:30 UTC ( #435641=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^2: Perl oddities
in thread Perl oddities

I'm not going to argue the logic of this. Being able to create a brand new language without making my jaw tired, running out of wire and having to go back to the store to get more, and in a non-smoking city ... that is great.

The fact is that most of the more popular languages use those parens. Whether your history is C/C++, Java, Perl5, or others which I've probably forgotten (I don't remember enough Pascal or Fortran to print out "hello world" - whether they do or not, I can't recall, but I'm not sure they quite qualify among the more popular languages, at least not from the perspective of those who would use Perl6), you're used to it. While it may not be intuitively natural for a human being to put parens around their conditional, it has been trained into a large majority of programmers to do it, even if that is against our nature.

Sometimes, bad choices are propogated to get over the inertia of the results of those choices. Rather than spending time retraining in the revolutionary new pattern of behaviour (I'd use the word "paradigm", but I think that word has lost all meaning), we stick to the tried-and-true-more-or-less. It helps languages, such as Java or C#, take off, because there is less retraining involved.

The trade-off here is that this may indeed be a revolution in language design. But it will delay the adoption of Perl6 (I think I've read something in the Apocalypses where this has been conceded already), possibly (although hopefully not) to the point where it just cannot acheive critical mass.

Another problem is for those of us who have to deal with multiple languages. I'm doing mostly perl5 right now, but I am still responsible for some C++ code (a couple KLOC), some shell scripts (probably about a dozen KLOC - ugh!), and have input into some Java code design issues. Yet another pattern will mess me up for a while - I can imagine that a number of people will just be too busy to pick up another language, especially one that has not (yet) hit critical mass, making it just a bit more difficult to acheive that critical mass. I'm not sure if I'll fall into this group or not yet.

I'm not saying that perl6 in general (or making parens optional in specific) is a bad idea. Someone has to come up with the revolutions every once in a while if we're ever going to get to that AI which just does what we ask it, without having to do all the drudgery of actually coding. It's just a risk. Whether good or bad, only time will tell.

Perl6 has, from what little I've read, so many time savers here and there - taken one at a time, most are pretty minor. Taken all together, it's pretty daunting. In some ways, renaming it away from "perl" may have been a good idea, so that no one thinks about it like perl. ;-) I think that perl6 shares less in common with perl5 than C++ shares with C ;-)

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Re^4: Perl oddities ("if" w/o parens)
by tye (Sage) on Mar 01, 2005 at 23:23 UTC

    If you don't like leaving off the parens, then don't. They are becoming optional, not illegal.

    I'm not actually certain that you misunderstood that. I feel a bit like you've talked all around the point but I'm left guessing what your primary point was. But it sure feels like you got the impression that

    if( CONDITION ) { CODE }

    would no longer be supported in Perl 6.

    So if that wasn't your premise, I apologize for not getting your point.

    In any case, I suspect that most people won't be dropping the parens much -- based on my impression that most people don't currently drop the optional parens from


    (like I usually do) and my agreement with you that dropping the former parens will be rather jarring in relation to similar languages (both Perl5 and non-Perl languages).

    - tye        

      "jarring". That one word pretty much summed up my rambling. Thanks!

        Well, there's jarring, and then there's jarring. There's a qualitative difference between driving into a brick wall vs. driving over those same thousand bricks scattered over the road. We're aiming more for the latter effect. That's just one of the reasons we're not renaming Perl to something else, because that would make the transition look more like a brick wall. Another reason is that we don't want to waste a perfectly good four-letter word that googles well and has even been installed in the OED. A third reason is that we're not actually changing the most fundamental aspect of Perl, which is its basis in how natural languages work. If anything, we're just reinterpreting what that means to make it more true of Perl.

        But yes, we expect the migration process to be a little jarring in spots. We'll do what we can to keep the bricks spread out.

      He said:
      I'm not saying that perl6 in general (or making parens optional in + specific) is a bad idea.
      so I think hi got it.

      I think it is great to get rid of the ()'s. I am still not sure if i like the new scoping rules though.
      if my ($i) = / ^ (f+) / { # Do stuff } say $i; # $i still defined.
      Good, Bad, Ugly... ?
        The scoping rules are much simpler now. And because blocks are closures, you can pass parameters to them, which are scoped to the block. So you could write your statement like this:
        if /^ (f+) / -> *$i { # Do stuff }
        where the * on the parameter list treats the pattern match result as binding to a list value, so the search result acts like a list value and binds $1 to $i. And arguably it's more readable because it puts the first thing that happens, the pattern match, out front. The parameter binding only happens if the pattern match succeeds.

        Or look at it another way. Suppose you run into a new control construct:

        frob my $x = bar() {...}
        Tell me quick whether $x is local to that block? In the Perl 5 world, you don't know for sure, because the scoping rules are arbitrary, and change between builtins and user-defined control verbs. In the Perl 6 world you know it isn't local, because the my isn't inside the block. Period. On the other hand, if you see
        frob bar() -> $x {...}
        then you absolutely know that $x is local because it's explicitly being passed as a parameter.

        I think people who initially perceive this as Bad or Ugly will eventually come around to seeing it as Kinda Pretty.

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