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Posts Tagged ‘language advocacy’

Something a casual user of a language will miss out on, is using the latest and greatest libraries of that language and generally programming in a modern style. For example, I1 still naturally use open(FH, 'filename') || die; and have to force myself to use the more modern open(my $fh, '<', 'filename') with its lexically scoped filehandle.

I have been programming Perl for 12 years or so, but aside from one conference (YAPC Muenchen 2002) I’ve never really immersed myself in the community. For this reason, I think I have missed out on quite a few niceties. Moose, DBIx and other modules bring Perl up to the level of its contemporaries if you don’t need to work with people who are not using them. I only came across POE recently (which I keep mentioning because it is so awesome).

Heck, even C++ has boost.

Modifiable Syntax

or DSLs I think they call it.

Ray Dillinger once pointed out that people write scheme in a variety of incompatible styles because the substrate isn’t pleasant for programming on directly. But it is possible to layer any sugar you like on it. This leads to a bunch of different and practically incompatible styles.

Anyway, what I see is that scheme programmers are capable of
doing a heck of a lot as individuals, and are very happy with
the personally-customized language they each work with. But
they tend not to work together on large projects because of
the cognitive overhead of learning each other’s personally-
customized languages, which may have different or conflicting
definitions.

Common Lisp programmers, by contrast, have a lot of standard
libraries and tend to forgive or ignore some small things that
may not fit perfectly with their personal style. But they do
work together on large projects, because they all have the same
set of language extensions and they can read each other’s code.

I still find eager comprehensions about the nicest way of specifying nested loops that I’ve seen. Perl syntax tweaking dudes: if you add these, I’ll never switch! What’s that? Fix it myself? It is easier to move to python or ruby I think.

Is it a coincidence that languages with fixable syntax (Lisp, Perl, Tcl, Ocaml) have ‘lost’ to those with a fixed syntax (Java, Python)? Ruby dudes beware.

Supporting Your Language

There have been a few posts floating around the blogosphere talking about writing posts supporting perl. I put my own effort into doing something similar for Emacs. However, in my opinion, Emacs needs the help and Perl does not.

Emacs could be greatly improved if there were many more Emacs Lisp hackers creating libraries and writing examples and documentation. Perl already has all of those things. <strike>As</strike> If its popularity wanes, what is lost? I guess people are thinking about job opportunities and stuff like that, but I suspect that the outflow of former Perl programmers will outpace the loss of Perl jobs.

Er, So what is my point?

Oh yes, Emacs-using Perl dudes, please add eager comprehensions to Perl and write Emacs blog posts rather than Perl ones. Thank you.


1. Even though I’m not really a casual Perl user. I do this stuff professionally don’t you know ;)

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