Further to Some thoughts around the "is Perl code maintainable" discussion, today I inherited some code written by an external contractor. Here is one of his functions that caught my eye:

sub file_mode { my ($file) = @_; if( ! -f $file ) { return -1; } my $dummy; my $mode; ($dummy,$dummy, $mode, $dummy, $dummy, $dummy, $dummy, $dummy, $dumm +y, $dummy, $dummy, $dummy, $dummy) = stat($file); return $mode; }

Maybe he thought he was writing in a very "clear" style, but I had to reach for my sunglasses looking through this code. :-) Assuming that I don't change the (dubious) interface, my instinct would be to write this function as:

sub file_mode { -f shift or return -1; return (stat(_))[2]; }
Then I thought, maybe a Perl novice would find the original function easier to understand and maintain. I guess it's like writing, you should write to a level appropriate to your audience. What do you think?