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Programming Perl

Perl is the Most Hated Programming Language, Developers Say (theregister.co.uk) 472

Thomas Claburn, writing for The Register: Developers really dislike Perl, and projects associated with Microsoft, at least among those who volunteer their views through Stack Overflow. The community coding site offers programmers a way to document their technical affinities on their developer story profile pages. Included therein is an input box for tech they'd prefer to avoid. For developers who have chosen to provide testaments of loathing, Perl tops the list of disliked programming languages, followed by Delphi and VBA. The yardstick here consists of the ratio of "likes" and "dislikes" listed in developer story profiles; to merit chart position, the topic or tag in question had to show up in at least 2,000 stories. Further down the down the list of unloved programming language comes PHP, Objective-C, CoffeeScript, and Ruby. In a blog post seen by The Register ahead of its publication today, Stack Overflow data scientist David Robinson said usually there's a relationship between how fast a particular tag is growing and how often it's disliked. "Almost everything disliked by more than 3 per cent of Stories mentioning it is shrinking in Stack Overflow traffic (except for the quite polarizing VBA, which is steady or slightly growing)," said Robinson. "And the least-disliked tags -- R, Rust, TypeScript and Kotlin -- are all among the fast-growing tags (TypeScript and Kotlin growing so quickly they had to be truncated in the plot)."
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Perl is the Most Hated Programming Language, Developers Say

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  • Problems (Score:5, Funny)

    by saphena ( 322272 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:03AM (#55468971) Homepage

    You have a problem and you think Perl provides the solution. Now you have two problems.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      I suppose this contributes to why I don't want to learn Perl; I don't program for a living but I do use various types of scripting for work, usually because I've had to reduce captured text down to something manageable, and if I find that I do the same replacement procedures in vi all of the time it makes sense to script it where I can do the processing from the command line without ever opening a text editor. When I look up how to do something with sed or other such tools I find a lot of other people that

  • by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:06AM (#55468985)
    I guess it's gone that far out of the mainstream
    • Re:No COBOL? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Shompol ( 1690084 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:22AM (#55469085)
      If you look at the original article [stackoverflow.blog] -- cobol is there, as the 3rd most hated "tag".
    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Dad was a COBOL programmer. He really liked the language, felt it was a lot more of a natural-language flow than languages like C. We still have an AS/400 at work and the few times I've seen COBOL code I can't help but agree with him, the actual structure of the syntax is a lot easier to follow as a layman, especially when the variable names are kept sane.

      • Re:No COBOL? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @10:23AM (#55469473)

        Yeah, but once you've been working in a field for a few months, you're no longer a layman. It's easier for a layman to use a Veg-O-Matic than a chef's knife, but anyone who works in the restaurant industry would pick the latter tool.

        A computer works using a set of mathematical logic operations. There's no need to dress them up to look like fancy talkin'.

  • by alternative_right ( 4678499 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:10AM (#55469001) Homepage Journal

    Perl is easy to write, hard to write well.

    Sort of like death metal.

    It is hated because you have to use independent thought, and have quality of thought, to deliver anything but flaky gibberish.

    At the same time, you can do anything with it, and across multiple platforms especially, it is the fastest way to get anything done.

    So eat it, Stack Overflow commenters. You're just people googling your way to a paycheck anyway.

    • You're just people googling your way to a paycheck anyway.

      Parenthetically, what's wrong with googling your way to a paycheck?

      If you can find information, effectively apply it to a task, do it well enough to get someone to pay you for it, and inevitably learn along the way, what's wrong with that?

      • by WallyL ( 4154209 )

        You're just people googling your way to a paycheck anyway.

        Parenthetically, what's wrong with googling your way to a paycheck?

        If you can find information, effectively apply it to a task, do it well enough to get someone to pay you for it, and inevitably learn along the way, what's wrong with that?

        Because if you can, somebody else can, for less than you.

    • Context is important here. Not in the language, but in the article. PERL is the most hated on Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow is a website where experienced devs can help out newbies with their coding questions. The experienced devs may dislike *SUPPORTING* PERL, or reading it, or figuring out complicated problems that may be related to its packages or interpreter version. Writing in Perl is so easy, it practically codes itself.
  • by bytestorm ( 1296659 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:10AM (#55469003)

    The CPAN library system is mature, it has ports on a ridiculous number of platforms, and the syntax isn't even particularly awful. If anything, its curse is (anecdotally) that it's everywhere and new-to-perl developers run across old code all the time and struggle to figure out the system it backs. And the fact that perl hacks had (have?) a bad habit of becoming defacto production code.

  • Too much hate. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:11AM (#55469005)

    Why hate, why not dislike. I have been coding for 40 years and never came across a language I hated, just ones that weren't suited for the job. Hey, if the company is going to pay me $75 an hour to code I'll write the app in Sanskrit if they want me to.

    • if the company is going to pay me $75 an hour to code

      If that's a freelance rate, then I feel better about my rate. I keep thinking I'm under-charging.

      If that's a full time job hourly rate, then I'm probably being massively underpaid.

  • Real source (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shompol ( 1690084 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:12AM (#55469013)
    The original study is here [stackoverflow.blog] I found the "polarization of technology" diagram at the bottom even more interesting.
  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:12AM (#55469017)
    Over the last 40 some odd years I've programmed in dozens of languages. Some I liked, some I was ambivalent about, some I didn't like. But the only language I learned to actually hate is Javascript. Talk about a steaming pile of shit.
    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      Over the last 40 some odd years I've programmed in dozens of languages. Some I liked, some I was ambivalent about, some I didn't like. But the only language I learned to actually hate is Javascript. Talk about a steaming pile of shit.

      How do you feel about PHP?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I find it really amusing that many of the people who like to hate PHP are the same people who gleefully jumped on board the Node.js bandwagon.

        JavaScript and PHP came onto the scene at a similar time, and many of the worst problems are shared between them.

        Both languages have evolved since then, and particularly in recent years, and both are now significantly more mature, robust and well-rounded languages. They both do still have serious issues, but it is possible today (even commonplace) to write good qualit

        • by Average ( 648 )

          You're quite right. PHP has done more evolution over the years than most languages (and it needed to). A modern Laravel'd-up ORM-driven annotated PHP application is completely unrecognizable as the same language as "mysql_connect in the middle of the page" PHP from 15 years ago. And a Zend/Smarty app from 8 years ago is a third kind of beastie from either of those.

          Unfortunately, people will look at the codebase of some of the most popular PHP products out there (cough cough, WordPress) and think that it'

        • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

          I find it really amusing that many of the people who like to hate PHP are the same people who gleefully jumped on board the Node.js bandwagon.

          That's why I asked the question. Javascript/NodeJS basically have the same semantics as PHP with slightly different syntax. So if you hate Javascript but like PHP, you're being irrational.

    • by Entrope ( 68843 )

      Give Rust some time. Have you ever tried to drink Rust-flavored Kool Aid? It's horrible!

    • Over the last 40 some odd years I've programmed in dozens of languages. Some I liked, some I was ambivalent about, some I didn't like. But the only language I learned to actually hate is Javascript. Talk about a steaming pile of shit.

      I don't think the language Javascript is that bad. I think the biggest problem with Javascript is the stuff that is intricately linked to it like the DOM, CSS, and browser incompatibilities. I think Javascript outside of a web environment would be fairly pleasant.

    • by e r ( 2847683 )
      1. When were you trying to get into Javascript? I hated Javascript at first, too.
      2. Were you treating Javascript like a functional language or were you trying to force object-oriented designs into it? I found that almost all of my pain came from attempting to implement OO designs; once I started treating it as a loosey goosey functional language it became much more pleasant to use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      > But the only language I learned to actually hate is Javascript. Talk about a steaming pile of shit.

      That's because Brendan was a fucking idiot. JavaShit was designed and implemented in 10 days [w3.org] -- which would be impressive if he actually put some _thought_ in it. In contradistinction it was like almost every shitty thing about Basic was embraced and NOTHING about writing type safe programs from the past 40 years was used.

      * Accidentally misspell a variable? That's nice -- we will just magically use it!

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        "" + [1,2] + [3,4];

        That seems like kindof a dumb thing to write in the first place. I mean, what would the programmer have actually been trying to do? It sounds like it would involve implicit type conversion of complex structures, something that is often bad. But the result, string conversation, sounds like a natural reaction of starting with a string -- I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that everything else would be converted into string form if you start with a string. But of course, I would have hoped it would just

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...but its fanboys are by far the most annoying.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      That's the way it works. The more despised something is, the more annoying those that run against the grain are by embracing it.

      The converse is not true though. As an example, Star Wars is very popular, but those who can cite everything to do with it including all of the Expanded Universe backstories for every single alien-extra that appeared in the Cantina or in Jabba the Hutt's lair are still incredibly annoying.

      It's just a TV show dammit.. It's just a TV show...

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:16AM (#55469047) Homepage

    Having worked in Perl (and many other languages) for about 15 years now, I'm curious how many of those polled actually use Perl regularly.

    Whenever I have to introduce someone to my Perl scripts, their first reaction is usually the typical horror, which fades in a few days after they start using it. Yes, there are comments. Yes, there is decent design. No, the regular expressions are not worse than any other implementation. No, the "clever" one-liner you copied off of a PerlMonks golf challenge will not pass review.

    Sure, there are a few weird warts on the language ("bless" being the most obvious example), but it's no worse than any other, and significantly better than some of today's much more popular languages. Mostly, I find that Perl just has a bad reputation because it allows you to write ugly code, just like C allows you to corrupt data and Java allows you to consume obscene amounts of memory. The language choice does not excuse being a bad programmer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      See, I think it's fair for folks (like me) who don't have deep experience in a language to dislike it. If you initially showed me an average piece of Perl script, it would make me shudder and I would struggle to work through it. Like you said, "typical horror, fades in a few days". I hate that feeling.

      Perl is also one of those languages where I'm hitting up Stack Overflow for writing every single bloody line of code, and I wonder if that's where a lot of dislike comes in.

      Also, I think it's worth pointing

    • by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:42AM (#55469201) Homepage

      Even "bless" is gone now as people use Mouse.
      Perl code can produce horrors, a bit easier than some other languages.
      But well written Perl is readable and efficient. People who hate it as a language in general, most likely have no idea what they are talking about.
      PHP with some pretty major issues as a language is quite down in the list, scoring about similar to Objective-C.... Seriously?
      Seems like a list made by bad/beginner devs, which I guess makes sense from the way it was produced...

    • by c ( 8461 )

      Sure, there are a few weird warts on the language ("bless" being the most obvious example), but it's no worse than any other

      After 20 years of perl coding, there are still two things which truly horrify me about the language.

      Perl 5's multi-threading model is less of a wart and more of a complete shitshow. Effectively it gives you all the power of fork() with all of the convenience of fork(). 25 years ago that was (barely) okay.

      And the interface at the C level (i.e. XSUB) is just... baroque and broke.

      I had ho

    • Clearly ... Alot of these folks have never written any Lisp. I would take Perl hands down over Lisp any day. Lots of Idiotic Stupid Parentheses.

  • I don't get the Delphi hate, to be honest. It is a pretty good language, comfortable to write. Well, the last Delphi I have used was Delphi 7, years ago, but from what I've heard it has become better rather than worse in the later versions.

    • Delphi's another language that lets you get shit done without really knowing or caring too much about what you're doing. The GUI editor is easy to use and you can basically drop in tiny code snippets without really thinking about your object model too much. Even FFI definitions are easy to do in Delphi. If I didn't have python-tkinter and ctypes, I'd probably be using Delphi or Lazarus/fpc for our in-house device testing UIs.

      The worst problems I've run into with delphi/pascal is migrating projects from ol
      • I've been using Delphi since its inception, and its predecessors going all the way back to Turbo Pascal 3.01. It's a fantastic environment, the language is easy to use, and I can get a project done in half the time it takes to put the same thing together in C#. The Delphi hate seems to mostly come from .NET programmers that bought into the M$ propaganda.

    • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
      I spent a lot of time writing Delphi code back in the early 2000's. I didn't particularly like it but I didn't hate it either. I do like some of its conventions like having an actual assignment operator. I don't like how wordy it is. It always felt like I was doing way more typing than I should be. But hate? I don't get it either.
    • Using Delphi 10 now for quick and dirty control interfaces for my hardware projects. It's still beautiful. You can get what you want done quickly and lucidly and you don't need the editor translating whitespace into into mnemonics so you can see what's a block and what isn't.

  • How about most irrelevant language? Why measure the level of hate towards something that is obsolete? I know let's do a study about how many people hate using looms or how many people hate commuting to work on horseback because that's useful information.
  • Having tried to like Java since the late '90s, I can't imagine there's a language in use less intuitive or helpful.

    I'll need to check out Perl. This should be interesting.

    Last language I learned was Whitespace.
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:38AM (#55469163)

    Perl is a wacky language and only bareable if you can handle old school unix stunts, no doubt. It gave birth to PHP, which speaks volumes. I remember reading an OReilly introduction to Perl and laughing at the wackyness. I've done the same with PHP, but I've always respected both. Sort of.
    Unlike newfangled fads and desasters like Ruby, Perl is a language that remains usable. Books on Perl from 18 years ago are still valid today, just like with awk, TCL and Emacs Lisp.

    Complain all you want about the awkwardness of old-school languages - they still work and many of them run on just about anything that can be powered by electricity. These days I'm still a little reluctant to say which side Javascript will come up on now that Node has it's very own version hodgepodge gumming up the works.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:42AM (#55469203)

    Those people like, and those people use.

  • Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by simplu ( 522692 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:46AM (#55469243)
    People hate what they don't understand.
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:48AM (#55469255)

    Personally I prefer Perl over similar scripting languages.

    I write in KSH, CSH, Python and Perl regularly... Of the three, Perl is my hands down favorite for a scripting language.

    If you are writing applications in Perl though, it sucks. The implementation of objects is obtuse, it isn't geared for User Interfaces (Perl/TK anyone?) and performance is really horrid.

    But... I cut my programming teeth on C (K&R, not ANSI) so I'm one of those old grey headed guys who go "tisk tisk" at all those new fangled, it's better because it's new things you young ones think are great.

    Now get off my lawn...

  • Enjoyed Perl 5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattr ( 78516 ) <mattrNO@SPAMtelebody.com> on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:49AM (#55469271) Homepage Journal

    Funny, I quite enjoyed writing in Perl 5 and the feeling was empowerment, and the community was excellent. At the time Python was quite immature. Python has grown but Perl 5 is still quite useful.

    There is also quite a difference between legacy code and code written today using modern extensions, though it seems people enjoy trashing things, instead of admitting they did not actually learn it.

  • Maybe it's because I only use VBA along with Excel, but I actually really don't mind it... I can do some pretty nifty shit with it. That said, every experience I had with COBOL was fucking trash.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Maybe it's because I only use VBA along with Excel, but I actually really don't mind it... I can do some pretty nifty shit with it. That said, every experience I had with COBOL was fucking trash.

      Probably COBOL is less hated because less people use it. And VBA comes into the category where it is often used by non-experts; they've done everything possible with macros and find they have to dip into VBA. This will be an unpleasant experience, because they don't use it regularly and they will already be annoyed that they can't do what they want with macros.

    • The negative comments I hear about VBA tend to come from people who either don't have personal experience or inherited badly built applications. VBA achieved early widespread use as an extension of Microsoft Access. Access projects were often slapped together by desktop power users who didn't understand database design and were not trained in programming. The results caused all sorts of headaches, particularly when the fundamental database structure was flawed. Additionally, the jet engine does not have th
  • Mostly people who are choosing their language aren't going to hate it. We're more likely to hate languages from projects we inherited, because we're forced to work with it.

  • Programmers have strong preferences about programming languages, and the popularity of languages rises and falls like the rankings of Top 40 pop tunes. Film at eleven.

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @10:29AM (#55469511)
    I'm surprised that PHP isn't more hated.
  • Perl is just fine (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I love perl. What I don't love is the deliberately obfuscated perl written by someone trying to be clever and/or indispensible by writing code only they can (quickly) understand. A quick down-and-dirty perl script is one thing, using it in reusable scripts is just immature and pointless. Especially those who refuse to document their code.

    THAT is the part I detest.

  • My biggest problem I find with Perl is that there were SO many ways to express a similar operations, conditionals, etc. While this may be nice for single developer projects, it is utter hell if someone has to read that code. This has happened because of Perl's long life and its iterations to add more and more contemporary programming concepts. This has made it possible (and thus it will happen) to make Perl code a spaghetti mess of syntaxes. This makes perl code difficult to read much less grok.

    I'm not say

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