As I read reactions from people to JT Smith’s Perl is Dead. Long live Perl. I see the usual knee-jerk claims that Perl inherently leads to unmaintainable code.
In my vast experiences in dealing with difficult-to-maintain code, I’ve noticed that nearly all of the messes I’ve seen had comments, documentation, and identifiers written in English. English is not an easy language to learn. It has inconsistencies (irregular verbs! homophones! homonyms!) and quirks (idioms! punctuation styles! possessive marks!) which make writing perfectly correct English–or even succinct and direct English–difficult.
There’s one good reason it’s difficult to produce correct and successful software from a full specification written at the start of a project.
Yet somehow it’s acceptable to allow programmers, presumably smart people with the ability to juggle small details, to write terrible, horrible, incomprehensible English but not comprehensible, concise, and correct code in languages which are orders of magnitude simpler than English. Hey, if you can use the pronoun “it” appropriately in English, Perl’s topic variable
$_ should give you absolutely no trouble!
If (perceived) simplicity and regularity of the language were truly an important factor toward the maintainability of software, we should all be using Esperanto or Lojban to talk about our software. It’s not as if we don’t expect programmers to be able to learn new programming languages where appropriate.
Perhaps the true source of maintenance problems lies elsewhere.