perlstyle - Perl style guide


   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

   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:

   *   4-column indent.

   *   Opening curly on same line as keyword, if possible, otherwise line

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

   *   One-line BLOCK may be put on one line, including curlies.

   *   No space before the semicolon.

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

   *   Space around most operators.

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

   *   Blank lines between chunks that do different things.

   *   Uncuddled elses.

   *   No space between function name and its opening parenthesis.

   *   Space after each comma.

   *   Long lines broken after an operator (except "and" and "or").

   *   Space after last parenthesis matching on current line.

   *   Line up corresponding items vertically.

   *   Omit redundant punctuation as long as clarity doesn't suffer.

   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 about:

   *   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 analysis\n" if $verbose;

       is better than

           $verbose && print "Starting analysis\n";

       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.

   *   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 /^#/;

   *   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.

   *   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.

   *   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.

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

   *   While short identifiers like $gotit are probably ok, use
       underscores to separate words in longer identifiers.  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 with

       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.

   *   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() variables

       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.

   *   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.

   *   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 parentheses.

   *   Use here documents instead of repeated "print()" statements.

   *   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: $!";

   *   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: $!";

   *   Line up your transliterations when it makes sense:

           tr [abc]

   *   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

   *   Try to document your code and use Pod formatting in a consistent
       way. Here are commonly expected conventions:

       *   use "C<>" for function, variable and module names (and more
           generally anything that can be considered part of code, like
           filehandles or specific values). Note that function names are
           considered more readable with parentheses after their name,
           that is "function()".

       *   use "B<>" for commands names like cat or grep.

       *   use "F<>" or "C<>" for file names. "F<>" should be the only Pod
           code for file names, but as most Pod formatters render it as
           italic, Unix and Windows paths with their slashes and
           backslashes may be less readable, and better rendered with

   *   Be consistent.

   *   Be nice.

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