Help biologist choose a new programming language

Pierre Asselin pa at panix.com
Fri Feb 7 05:19:42 EST 2003

In comp.programming John Ladasky <ladasky at my-deja.com> wrote:

> [ ... ]
> I need the ability to read flat-format text files, seek out some key
> words and sequence data, and analyze for patterns.  Not too difficult,
> right?

I'd say perl is the best darn language for this sort of thing.  I'm not
sure how much fun you'll have learning perl.  I started using it as
perl4, when it looked like awk + sed + all the Unix shells, thrown into
a blender.  So it was easy for me.

Another possibility is Tcl.  Tcl is a really, really weird language,
but it's also small.  You can get over the syntax in one afternoon
and start writing code.

No matter what language you pick, you'll need to learn "regular
expressions", because that's how you will recognize the strings in your
files.  Be prepared:  regular expressions are a write-only language.
You write one, and seconds later you can't understand it.  Luckily,
they usually works as intended.

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