PERLSTYLE(1)     Perl Programmers Reference Guide    PERLSTYLE(1)

NNAAMMEE
       perlstyle - Perl style guide

DDEESSCCRRIIPPTTIIOONN
       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
       --ww flag at all times.  You may turn it off explicitly for
       particular portions of code via 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
           curlies.

       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
           "or").

       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
           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:

       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 analysis\n" if $verbose;

           is better than

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

           because the main point isn't whether the user typed --vv
           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 vvii.

           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:

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

       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 CCoonnffiigguurree 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 with VAR_NAMES_LIKE_THIS.

           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() 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.

       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
           parentheses.

       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]
                  [xyz];

       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 --ww in
           effect.  Consider giving away your code.  Consider
           changing your whole world view.  Consider... oh, never
           mind.

       o   Be consistent.

       o   Be nice.

27/Mar/1999            perl 5.005, patch 03                     1