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This week on perl5-porters (20--26 Feb 2001)

Simon Cozens
February 28, 2001 05:45
This week on perl5-porters (20--26 Feb 2001)
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This week on perl5-porters (20--26 Feb 2001)

     * Notes
     * Smoke Testing
     * Overriding +=
     * More Big Unicode Wars
     * Patchlevel in $^V and 5.7.1
     * Deleting stashes
     * IO on VMS
     * Various

   You can subscribe to an email version of this summary by sending an
   empty message to [1]; there's also
   a similar summary for the Perl 6 mailing lists, which you can
   subscribe to at [2]
   Please send corrections and additions to where YYYYMM is the current year
   and month.
   This week was very busy, but there were a lot of cross-posts from
   other lists. Partly due to the volume of traffic and partly due to
   work getting horribly, horribly busy, I've had to delay finishing this
   summary for a couple of days. My apologies.
  Smoke Testing
   Mr. Schwern sprung into action yet again with another brilliant idea:
   automated builds of Perl in all possible configurations and reporting
   the "smoke test" results to P5P. OK, it's been talked about a number
   of times in the past, but this time someone's done something about it.
   Bravo, Schwern! Of course, as with all good ideas, it
   was nearly drowned out by lots and lots of trivial bickering. Schwern
   had called the mailing list, and the smoke testing
   software SmokingJacket. This produced objections from non-smokers and
   recovering smokers, and started a long and tedious objection -
   counterproposal cycle. Eventually, the list was given an alias of
   Schwern, however, had the last laugh when a change was needed to
     It seems we're overwhelming perlbug and p5p with redundant reports.
     A little too successful. :) The perlbug people are working on a way
     to accommodate us and we should produce a new version of
     SmokingJacket shortly.
     Until then, please *STOP* using SmokingJacket. Sorry about the
     trouble, I know it can be difficult to stop smoking, but we'll be
     sure to issue a patch to help. :P
   If you have spare cycles and you want to help put them to use without
   much effort on your part, join the daily build mailing list.
  Overriding +=
   Alex Gough noted that overriding += does unexpected things when the
   left-hand side is undefined or non-overloaded; in his words:
     I'm not claiming overload has a problem, just that it is not
     possible to write overloading modules which do not warn on
     $undef += $obj
     without also not warning on
     $whatever = $undef + $obj
   Rick Delaney had a patch which makes the "add-assign" method (instead
   of the "add" method, which is the current behaviour) get called even
   on non-overload left-hand sides. This broke old code, so there was
   some discussion as to whether there was a neater way to do it. Tels
   suggested treating undefined left-hand sides as zero, but Ronald
   Kimball pointed out:
     I think that, since the += is being overloaded, we *don't* know
     that the undef will be treated like a 0. An overloaded += could do
     whatever it wants with an undef.
     Someone could even implement an overloaded += that's supposed to
     warn when the lefthand operand is undef. :)
   [3]Read about it.
  More Big Unicode Wars
   Most of this week's (many) messages were taken up in various debates
   about the state of Unicode handling and how the Unicode semantics
   should work. I'm obviously too involved in the whole thing to give you
   an objective summary of what went on, but I can point you at the
   highlights and the starts of the threads.
   One of the Unicode threads started [4]here, and eventually, let to
   some agreement between myself, Nick Ing-Simmons, Ilya and Jarkko,
   which is a feat in itself; we decided that the model for Unicode on
   EBCDIC will look like [5]this. (Incidentally, thanks to Morgan Stanley
   Dean Witter, who've promised me a day's hacking time on their
   mainframes, this might even be implemented soon.)
   Another of the threads started [6]here with Karsten Sperling
   attempting to nail down the semantics of Unicode handling. Most of the
   ensuing discussion was a mixture of boring language-lawyering and
   acrimony. Karsten also found some interesting bugs related to
   character ranges on EBCDIC, which everyone swore had been fixed years
   ago, but still seem to remain.
   Nick Ing-Simmons posted a well thought-out and informative list and
   discussion of the [7]remaining conflicts between our Unicode
   implementation and the Camel III's discussion of what should happen.
   Unintentional irony of the week award goes to Ilya, for breathtakingly
   accusing Jarkko of "unnecessarily obfuscating" the regular expression
  Patchlevel in $^V and 5.7.1
   Nicholas Clark asked
     Would it be possible to make the $^V version string for bleadperl
     have the devel number after a third dot?
     ie instead of
    perl -we 'printf "%vd\n", $^V'

     I'd like it if I could get
    perl -we 'printf "%vd\n", $^V'

   Jarkko noted that this would cause problems with; Nick turned
   around and asked when 5.7.1 was likely to happen. The outstanding
   issues seem to be Unicode, PerlIO and numerical problems including
   PerlIO is now the default IO system, and isn't giving that many
   problems. Nick Ing-Simmons noted that Nicholas Clark had produced a
   [8]PerlIO::gzip filter extension which had flushed out a bunch of
   Philip Newton said that a release number wouldn't
   help us much anyway, because features would get folded back into, say,
   5.6.1 or 5.6.2, and if you said

   Perl barf on 5.6.1 even if the features you need had been folded back
   in, bringing up the "feature etst" discussion again.
   Johan Vromans suggested that Perl could have a built-in
   equivalent to report its configuration. Ted Ashton complained about
   the size of the resulting binary, but Robert Spier pointed out that itself is pretty bloaty. Vadim Konovalov suggested that the
   advantage of having an external is that you can change it
   and lie to Perl about how it was configured. Don't try this at home,
  Deleting stashes
   Here's an interesting and probably not too hard job for someone. Alan
   Burlison found that if you delete a stash and then call a subroutine
   that was in it, Perl segfaults:
    $ perl -e 'sub bang { print "bang!\n"; } undef %main::; bang;'
    Segmentation Fault(coredump)

   What Alan and I agreed should happen is that stash deletion should be
   allowed, but the method cache needs to be invalidated for that stash
   when it is deleted so that the next attempt to call a sub on it will
   give the ordinary "undefined subroutine" error.
  IO on VMS
   VMS seemed to be doing something very strange with output and pipes to
   the effect that Test::Harness couldn't properly see the results of Eventually it was simplified to
    print "a ";
    print "b ";
    print "c\n";

   acting differently to
    print "a b c\n";

   and this was explained by Dan Sugalski in a way that startled nearly
   everyone: "The way perl does communication between processes on VMS
   involves mailboxes."
   But it transpired that the reality is somewhat more boring than we
   imagined: rather than a Heath-Robinsonian email-based IPC system,
   mailboxes are actually a little like Unix domain sockets. You send
   output as batches of records. Hence, there's a difference between
   sending the output as three records and as one. As there's a record
   separator between the prints, you get different output.
   Tim Jenness fixed up some long-standing known issues with File::Temp;
   if you were getting scary warning messages from File::Temp tests in
   the past, you won't any more.
   Alan's been whacking at some more memory leaks; Jarkko was reproducing
   far more leaks than Alan until he turned up PERL_DESTRUCT_LEVEL, which
   actually frees the memory in use tidily, instead of allowing it to be
   reclaimed when the process exits. He asked why we don't do this all
   the time; the answer was "speed" - the exit's going to happen anyway,
   so why shut down gracefully? As Jarkko put it, "No point shaving in
   the morning if you are a kamikaze pilot?" Naturally, this lead to a
   discussion about the grooming habits of kamikaze.
   Sarathy said "yikes" again, although on an unrelated topic.
   Until next week I remain, your humble and obedient servant,
   Simon Cozens


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