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Re: Perl vs Scheme vs ML vs ... for autoconf

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: Perl vs Scheme vs ML vs ... for autoconf
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 09:21:29 -0700 (PDT)

> From: Alexandre Oliva <address@hidden>
> Date: 10 Apr 2001 08:49:15 -0300
> I hate Perl.  Really.  I mean it.

I wouldn't go that far.  But perhaps I'm biased:

  * I worked down the hall from Larry Wall when he invented Perl.
  * In 1993 Stott Parker and I published one of the first academic
    papers that used Perl as the publication language.
  * My company uses Perl extensively for our commercial projects.

> I'd much rather go for Python or some other readable scripting
> language.

Despite my obvious bias for Perl, I agree with you for autconf.  Of
the languages mentioned so far, Scheme would be my first choice for
autoconf, followed by Python, Perl, and C.  (Sorry if I left one out.)

Scheme by far is the best choice for this kind of application, because
it's best at programs that generate other programs.  The other
languages mentioned are not even close.

> I think I can read Perl well enough to be able to review patches and
> ask questions about points I find doubtful :-)

Certainly Perl could be used, but for this application it would almost
certainly be less readable and maintainable than Scheme would be,
assuming similar competence levels for Perl and for Scheme.

ML and Haskell might be even better choices than Scheme, but they are
less well known and used, and might not be worth the trouble.

Another argument for using Guile or Python is that they use Autoconf,
whereas Perl does not.  This argument is not as silly or political as
it might sound at first: a community of hackers is more likely to help
out a tool that they already use.

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