Swiss Army Chainsaw

What Does Swiss Army Chainsaw Mean?

“Swiss Army chainsaw” is a term used in IT to refer to a tool that is versatile, yet difficult to use. It has been applied to different kinds of scripting languages and other software tools.


Techopedia Explains Swiss Army Chainsaw

A lot of definitions of Swiss Army chainsaw describe the software in question as clunky, inelegant, crude or noisy. One of the biggest examples of a Swiss Army chainsaw is the Perl scripting language which became somewhat synonymous with that deprecating term. Some suggest that Perl code tends to look jumbled on the screen. Others talk about a lack of user-friendly design or clear syntax. The phrase Swiss Army chainsaw has also been applied to other things like lexical analyzer generators in UNIX.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.