in reply to The Lighter Side of Perl Culture (Part III): Obfu

I think we've been a bit unfair to Mr. Clinick. If you read the whole paragraph plus the previous one it's clear he did not mean that all Perl programs are write-only.

Perl actually stands for Practical Extraction and Report Language and was invented by Larry Wall to help him develop solutions on UNIX that C and Shell scripts just didn't address. You could say that he invented "scripting" as we know it today. I'm convinced that I'll get a ton of mail about that (from avid Rexx and TCL programmers, no doubt), but I think Larry deserves a lot of the credit for developing scripting into the vibrant community it is today. It's difficult to describe Perl; it's similar in syntax to Cóbut is much easier to learn and develop, because it was designed to give you as many shortcuts as possible. Ask Perl developers to do something, and they invariably reply, "No problem. I could do that in two lines of Perl," closely followed by a colleague claiming it could be done in one line! That's not to say that you can't develop large programs in Perl. It's just that a lot of Perl scripts are very small because the language gives you those shortcuts.
Sometimes, those shortcuts can be a little counterproductive, though. Perl is famous for its ability to create programs that are entirely illegible to everyone but the developer who wrote them. The Perl community even has obfuscation contests to see who can write the most unintelligible Perl code!

I think the quote was taken out of context and thus may seem to mean something else than was intended.

We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home
   -- P. Simon in Mrs. Robinson

  • Comment on Re: The Lighter Side of Perl Culture (Part III)

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Re^2: The Lighter Side of Perl Culture (Part III)
by eyepopslikeamosquito (Bishop) on Jan 25, 2005 at 09:16 UTC

    I think we've been a bit unfair to Mr. Clinick.
    Agreed. The article as a whole is very positive towards Perl and hugely respectful of Larry Wall and his contribution to the scripting world.

    I included this quote because it contains a lesson: it shows how Obfuscation Contests can be used as a propaganda weapon to damage Perl's reputation. Since attempting to outlaw Perl obfu contests is clearly absurd, the best we can do to protect Perl's reputation is to respond promptly and accurately -- as brian_d_foy and merlyn did above. BTW, I heard a rumour (but I'm damned if I can find anything with google now) that O'Reilly did not sponsor the TPJ Obfuscated Perl Contests because they felt they would project the wrong image of Perl. Does anyone know if there is any truth to this rumour?

    Perl actually stands for Practical Extraction and Report Language
    To nitpick with Mr Clinick, I refer to the draft Oxford English Dictionary entry cited on
    Perl Brit. Perl, perl, irreg. PERL Computing. perl n. , arbitrarily chosen for its positive connotations, with omission of -a- to differentiate it from an existing programming language called Pearl. Coined by Larry Wall in the summer of 1987; the program was publicly released on 18 December of that year. Acronymic expansions of the name (such as Practical Extraction and Report Language and Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister), though found in the earliest documention for the language, were formed after the name had been chosen. Coinage details confirmed by personal communication from L. Wall, May 2000. A high-level interpreted programming language widely used for a variety of tasks and especially for applications running on the World Wide Web. The form Perl is preferred for the language itself; perl is used for the interpreter for the Perl language.
    I love it that PERL is considered "irregular". :-)