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These problems combined to make large volumes of Perl code seem unreasonably difficult to read and grasp as a whole after only a few days' absence.Also, I found I was spending more and more time wrestling with artifacts of the language rather than my application problems.

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I am just barely old enough to have programmed in batch FORTRAN for a few months back in the 1970s.

Most hackers aren't these days, but somehow our culture seems to have retained a pretty accurate folk memory of how nasty those old-style fixed-field languages were.

Indeed, the term “free format”, used back then to describe the newer style of token-oriented syntax in Pascal and C, has almost been forgotten; languages have been designed that way for decades now. It's hard to blame anyone, on seeing this Python feature, for initially reacting as though they had unexpectedly stepped in a steaming pile of dinosaur dung. I skimmed through the rest of the language description without much interest.

I didn't see much else to recommend Python, except maybe that the syntax seemed rather cleaner than Perl's and the facilities for doing basic GUI elements like buttons and menus looked fairly good.

But I did find time to write several Perl programs, including two of significant size and complexity.

One of them, , was used to automatically generate the Post Script for the sixth edition of Linux from the Linux Documentation Project's archive of HOWTOs. Writing these programs left me progressively less satisfied with Perl.

“More than one way to do it” lent flavor and expressiveness at a small scale, but made it significantly harder to maintain consistent style across a wider code base.

And many of the features that were later patched into Perl to address the complexity-control needs of bigger programs (objects, lexical scoping, “use strict”, etc.) had a fragile, jerry-rigged feel about them.

I know over two dozen general-purpose languages, write compilers and interpreters for fun, and have designed any number of special-purpose languages and markup formalisms myself.

My most recently completed project, as I write this, is a special-purpose language called SNG for manipulating PNG (Portable Network Graphics) images.

Larger project size seemed to magnify some of Perl's annoyances into serious, continuing problems.