by strick

Is Larry Wall on crack?

Let's hope so -- otherwise what would justify stuff like the proposed perl6 Insignificant[sic] Whitespace Hack, beginning in about the 9th paragraph of

When I first started reading about perl6, I thought great, they're fixing a lot of the things I complain about in my essay Everything In Perl Is Wrong.

But now that I realize perl6 will still be intentionally ambiguous -- with heuristics based on what kind of white space you use (spaces or newlines?) -- I give up on any hope for perl6.

Perl is a "semicolon language", like C & C++ & Java. You have to use semicolons to terminate statements, and so whitespace doesn't matter (newlines are just whitespace, like spaces). There exist -- and personally, I like -- no-semicolon languages, like Awk, Tcl, & Python, which can always use newlines to terminate statements. But adding a single newline hack to an otherwise semicolon language is just Wrong!

So what is this hack about?

Here's an excerpt from the Apocalypse linked above:

In Perl, this problem comes up most often when people say "Why do I have to put a semicolon after do {} or eval {} when it looks like a complete statement?" Well, in Perl 6, you don't, if the final curly is on a line by itself. That is, if you use an expression block as if it were a statement block, it behaves as one. The win is that these rules are consistent across all expression blocks, whether user-defined or built-in. Any expression block construct can be treated as either a statement or a component of an expression. Here's a block that is being treated as a term in an expression:
    $x = do {
    } + 1;
However, if you write
    $x = do {
    + 1;
then the + will be taken erroneously as the start of a new statement. (So don't do that.)


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