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Thu, 05 Nov 2009

Perl 6: Lost in Wonderland


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When you learn a programming language, you not only learn about the syntax, semantics and core libraries, but also the coding style and common idioms.

Idioms are common usage patterns; learning and reusing them means you have to spend less time thinking on common things, and have more time working out the algorithms you deal with.

That's different if you learn Perl 6 - it's a largely unexplored field, and while there are loads of nice features, you might still feel a bit lost. At least I do. That's because I often think "There's got to be a much easier way to achieve $this, but it often takes time to find that easier solution - because nobody developed an idiom for it.

In those cases it helps to ask on the #perl6 IRC channel; many smart people read and write there, and are rather good in coming up with simpler solutions.

For example see masak's ROT13 implementation in Perl 6. In the right column you can see later revisions, and how they gradually improve, steady up to a one-liner.

I also made some simplifications to JSON::Tiny, which basically shows that when I wrote these reduction methods first I used Perl 6 baby talk language.

The nice things about exploring the Perl 6 wonderland of unexplored idioms is that it really pushes your ego if you find a nice simplification, and that you have something to blog about for the Planet Perl Iron man ;-)

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