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NAME    [Toc]    [Back]

       perlstyle - Perl style guide

DESCRIPTION    [Toc]    [Back]

       Each programmer will, of course, have his or her own preferences
 in regards to formatting, but there are some general
 guidelines that will make your programs easier to
       read, understand, and maintain.

       The most important thing is to run your programs under the
       -w flag at all times.  You may turn it off explicitly for
       particular portions of code via the "no warnings" pragma
       or the $^W variable if you must.  You should also always
       run under "use strict" or know the reason why not.  The
       "use sigtrap" and even "use diagnostics" pragmas may also
       prove useful.

       Regarding aesthetics of code lay out, about the only thing
       Larry cares strongly about is that the closing curly
       bracket of a multi-line BLOCK should line up with the keyword
 that started the construct.  Beyond that, he has
       other preferences that aren't so strong:

       o   4-column indent.

       o   Opening curly on same line as keyword, if possible,
           otherwise line up.

       o   Space before the opening curly of a multi-line  BLOCK.

       o   One-line BLOCK may be put on one line, including

       o   No space before the semicolon.

       o   Semicolon omitted in "short" one-line BLOCK.

       o   Space around most operators.

       o    Space around a "complex" subscript (inside brackets).

       o   Blank lines between chunks that do different things.

       o   Uncuddled elses.

       o   No space between function name and its opening parenthesis.

       o   Space after each comma.

       o   Long lines broken after an operator (except "and" and

       o   Space after last parenthesis matching on current line.
       o   Line up corresponding items vertically.

       o   Omit redundant punctuation as long as clarity doesn't

       Larry has his reasons for each of these things, but he
       doesn't claim that everyone else's mind works the same as
       his does.

       Here are some other more substantive style issues to think

       o   Just because you CAN do something a particular way
           doesn't mean that you SHOULD do it that way.  Perl is
           designed to give you several ways to do anything, so
           consider picking the most readable one.  For instance

               open(FOO,$foo) || die "Can't open $foo: $!";

           is better than

               die "Can't open $foo: $!" unless open(FOO,$foo);

           because the second way hides the main point of the
           statement in a modifier.  On the other hand

               print "Starting analysis0 if $verbose;

           is better than

               $verbose && print "Starting analysis0;

           because the main point isn't whether the user typed -v
           or not.

           Similarly, just because an operator lets you assume
           default arguments doesn't mean that you have to make
           use of the defaults.  The defaults are there for lazy
           systems programmers writing one-shot programs.  If you
           want your program to be readable, consider supplying
           the argument.

           Along the same lines, just because you CAN omit parentheses
 in many places doesn't mean that you ought to:

               return print reverse sort num values %array;
               return print(reverse(sort num (values(%array))));

           When in doubt, parenthesize.  At the very least it
           will  let some poor schmuck bounce on the % key in vi.

           Even if you aren't in doubt, consider the mental welfare
 of the person who has to maintain the code after
           you, and who will probably put parentheses in the
           wrong place.

       o   Don't go through silly contortions to exit a loop at
           the top or the bottom, when Perl provides the "last"
           operator so you can exit in the middle.  Just "outdent"
 it a little to make it more visible:

                   for (;;) {
                     last LINE if $foo;
                       next LINE if /^#/;

       o   Don't be afraid to use loop labels--they're there to
           enhance readability as well as to allow multilevel
           loop breaks.  See the previous example.

       o   Avoid using grep() (or map()) or `backticks` in a void
           context, that is, when you just throw away their
           return values.  Those functions all have return values,
 so use them.  Otherwise use a foreach() loop or
           the system() function instead.

       o   For portability, when using features that may not be
           implemented on every machine, test the construct in an
           eval to see if it fails.  If you know what version or
           patchlevel a particular feature was implemented, you
           can test $] ($PERL_VERSION in "English") to see if it
           will be there.  The "Config" module will also let you
           interrogate values determined by the Configure program
           when Perl was installed.

       o   Choose mnemonic identifiers.  If you can't remember
           what mnemonic means, you've got a problem.

       o   While short identifiers like $gotit are probably ok,
           use underscores to separate words.  It is generally
           easier to read $var_names_like_this than $VarNamesLikeThis,
 especially for non-native speakers of
           English. It's also a simple rule that works consistently

           Package names are sometimes an exception to this rule.
           Perl informally reserves lowercase module names for
           "pragma" modules like "integer" and "strict".  Other
           modules should begin with a capital letter and use
           mixed case, but probably without underscores due to
           limitations in primitive file systems' representations
           of module names as files that must fit into a few
           sparse bytes.

       o   You may find it helpful to use letter case to indicate
           the scope or nature of a variable. For example:

               $ALL_CAPS_HERE   constants  only  (beware  clashes
with perl vars!)
               $Some_Caps_Here  package-wide global/static
               $no_caps_here     function  scope  my() or local()

           Function and method names seem to work best as all
           lowercase.  E.g., $obj->as_string().

           You can use a leading underscore to indicate that a
           variable or function should not be used outside the
           package that defined it.

       o   If you have a really hairy regular expression, use the
           "/x" modifier and put in some whitespace to make it
           look a little less like line noise.  Don't use slash
           as a delimiter when your regexp has slashes or backslashes.

       o   Use the new "and" and "or" operators to avoid having
           to parenthesize list operators so much, and to reduce
           the incidence of punctuation operators like "&&" and
           "||".  Call your subroutines as if they were functions
           or list operators to avoid excessive ampersands and

       o   Use here documents instead of repeated print() statements.

       o   Line up corresponding things vertically, especially if
           it'd be too long to fit on one line anyway.

               $IDX = $ST_MTIME;
               $IDX = $ST_ATIME       if $opt_u;
               $IDX = $ST_CTIME       if $opt_c;
               $IDX = $ST_SIZE        if $opt_s;

               mkdir  $tmpdir,  0700 or die "can't mkdir $tmpdir:
               chdir($tmpdir)      or die "can't  chdir  $tmpdir:
               mkdir  'tmp',    0777  or  die  "can't  mkdir $tmpdir/tmp: $!";

       o   Always check the return codes of system calls.  Good
           error messages should go to STDERR, include which program
 caused the problem, what the failed system call
           and arguments were, and (VERY IMPORTANT) should contain
 the standard system error message for what went
           wrong.  Here's a simple but sufficient example:

               opendir(D,  $dir)      or die "can't opendir $dir:

       o   Line up your transliterations when it makes sense:

               tr [abc]
       o   Think about reusability.  Why waste brainpower on a
           one-shot when you might want to do something like it
           again?  Consider generalizing your code.  Consider
           writing a module or object class.  Consider making
           your code run cleanly with "use strict" and "use warnings"
 (or -w) in effect.  Consider giving away your
           code.  Consider changing your whole world view.  Consider...
 oh, never mind.

       o   Be consistent.

       o   Be nice.

perl v5.8.5                 2002-11-06                          5
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