6.blog


Dr Strangecode, or how to stop worrying and learn to love Perl 6!
So Perl 6 1.0, or 6.c, is out now.

Most people would expect something downloadable, and there is actually a Rakudo release to go. But 6.c is really the promise that the specs will not change overnight, that it's possible to write a program, or a module, to a spec.

So now what? After 15 years of development, Perl 6 may be a language looking for a problem to solve, or at least a domain where it solves the problems better han any other language out there.

Perl 5 was, and is, the Swiss Army Chainsaw of computing. Perl 6 looks more like the Swiss Army Power Toolbox. No wonder it took years to implement features like gradual typing, a sensible concurrency model, grammars, phasers, slangs, etc - and still retain the feel of Perl, the focus on Just Getting Things Done.

Surely they're not thinking about implementing macros in Perl 6. Nah, would be over the top.

Willl Perl 6 attract developers, companies looking for better technology? I guess there will be a considerable part of the Perl 5 world who will take a look at Perl 6, now it's official. For developers who embrace the modern concepts in Perl 5, it would definitely be very tempting. For the bigger part of the current Perl world, life is about existing and legacy systems, where Perl 6 also plays nice with its ability to blend in with Perl 5, even in the same program.

And I also think there would be a good number of "newcomers" who will be attracted by the many well thought-out and cleanly implemented features, and the inherent power of the language itself.

Does Perl 6 offer something to programmers today? I surely think so, and I hope that there will be a lot of people coming from another background than Perl 5 to see if it fits their needs. Perl's bad press over the last 10 or 15 years is an initial barrier to some, for sure. But Perl 6 offerrs a set of tools umatched anywhere in the World of Programming. Surely there will be startups wanting to capitalize on that power.

After all, it seems to me that the people actually developing Perl 6 are having a great amount of fun. Perhaps they're optimizing for -OFUN, but they're certainly having some of it themelves. And in my experience, people having fun doing what they do are doing a much better job.

On a private note, it's actually pretty fun to code in Perl 6. Not having done it since 2010, I'm still using training wheels, but the feel is definitely perlish, and the language is just cleaner.

Is Perl 6 - in the form of the current Rakudo release - production ready? Certainly not, at least not for any critical systems. But 1.0 marks an important milestone in the life of a butterfly. 1.0 is by many considered the first beta. This goes especially for Perl 6, where many of us stopped believing there would ever be an official release. Performance needs to improve greatly, as also probably stability. But I'm pretty confident that the next year will see some large improvements in these parts.

With a large number of new (and new-old) faces showing up, hammering at the implementation, I'm sure enhancements will come at a rapid rate. But then of course the question about Toolchain becomes increasingly important. I don't think relying on a single proprietary vendor is the way to go, rather utilizing one of the strengths of Perl, CPAN. I hope this effort, or something like it, will gain momentum. Btw, p6c is a nice, short domain name, but perhaps any remaining conflicts over http://cpan6.org/ can be resolved.

Christmas is also the time where Virgin birth comes to mind; I'll just leave it there. How Perl 6 was, err, conceived has been discussed in length, but surely Camelia is one of Nature's strangest creatures, with the parent being a Camel, and Camelia obviously being an insect, a butterfly, something very unique had to come of it.

With a period of 15 years from egg, over larvae, pupae (perhaps someone someday will figure out how Camelia spent the time; there cerainly were a number of years of hibernation underground), it's one of the longest lifecycles I know of. Hopefully it signals an incredibly long life fof Perl.

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