Months ago I wrote a meditation on the involuntary encapsulation violation; even if I had three nice answers, I still think that that kind of implicit ability of modifying the internals of an object without using accessors is a bad thing. What I think is wrong in an accessor like get_list is that you are passing back to the caller a reference to an internal structure of the object. Do something like this:
my $x = $obj->get_list ;
$x-> = 'surprise!' ;
...et voilà!: you changed the object without using set_list. I agree that the example above is really-bad-code, but there is a lot of it around...
Strictly speaking about your meditation, I like best accessors that have the ability to get/set their values, or read-only ones, or write-only ones. After reading Advanced Perl Programming I started using get/set methods, but after a short time I found them really annoying...
The very nature of Perl to be like natural language--inconsistant and full of dwim and special cases--makes it impossible to know it all without simply memorizing the documentation (which is not complete or totally correct anyway).
--John M. Dlugosz
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