Write-only language

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A write-only language is a programming language with syntax (or semantics) sufficiently dense and bizarre that any routine of significant size is automatically write-only code.[1] Write-only code is source code so arcane, complex, or ill-structured that it cannot be reliably modified or even comprehended by anyone with the possible exception of the author.[2]



Write-only language is also referred to as line noise, suggesting that the code looks like spurious characters from signal noise in the communication line. Some programmers believe that certain languages make it easy to write (subjectively) "bad" programs. In such a language it would be more difficult to read, understand, and modify existing source code than to start over and rewrite it from scratch.

Languages that are often derided as write-only include APL, DDT, Forth, TECO and Perl.[citation needed] Attributes that these languages have in common include a large set of operators and a syntax which permits (or encourages) the writing of very dense code. It is also a common feature of esoteric programming languages that strive to have obfuscated code, such as INTERCAL.


  1. "Computing Dictionary - write-only language". DICTIONARY.COM Retrieved on August 5, 2009
  2. "Computing Dictionary - write-only code". DICTIONARY.COM Retrieved on August 5, 2009

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