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Re: Future Perl development

Nicholas Clark
February 5, 2007 07:58
Re: Future Perl development
Message ID:

On Mon, Feb 05, 2007 at 10:08:25AM +0000, Nicholas Clark wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 04, 2007 at 09:00:16PM -0800, chromatic wrote:
> > I'm sure Jesse and Ann welcome your help to fix it.  The same goes for 
> > everyone else reading in this thread.
> I'd welcome Craig's help in fixing more Perl 5 on VMS issues, which I know
> is a personal itch that he wants to scratch.
> The fact that he doesn't makes me assume that he's already a busy man.
> Perl 6 PR has to be fixed by people whose primary itch is Perl 6.
> And it is broken.

Sorry. That was rather a terse and rude reply. The reasoning behind it is I
feel valid. Which is that right now it's a (re-)bootstrapping problem:

On Sun, Feb 04, 2007 at 10:53:36PM -0600, Craig Berry wrote:

> Well, not long ago I was curious to know what was going on, so I took
> a look at the front page here:
> which says that for news of Perl 6, go to the list summaries page here:
> but nothing has been updated there in almost a year.  My first thought
> was that after hearing about so many problems for so many years, I was
> finally seeing the dreaded signs that Perl 6 had been cancelled.  But
> wait, there's a link in the left column called "Status," so I click on
> that and get to:
> which tells me nothing more recent than, "The community brainstorming
> process finished August 1, 2000," and points me back at the same
> defunct list summaries page.
> Now quite eager to find out what the death blow was, I delve into the
> individual list archives at and discover that in fact
> Perl 6 list summaries are still being produced and posted to
> perl6-announce, so I quickly scan the latest three or four list
> summaries to try to get a sense of where the project is.
> Great news -- lots of stuff is going on.  But much of it is not
> anything that using Perl 5 for 10 years gives me the basis to
> understand, and most of it is dominated by perl6-internals, just as it
> was five years ago.  The language list is still trying to decide
> whether math should be done in floating point or integer and debating
> whether something that sounds like a multi-dimensional array slice can
> be supported.  Is this a language I can use in production this year or
> next?  It doesn't sound like it.  Is it really the future of Perl, and
> is it solid enough that I should spread myself even thinner and try to
> contribute to porting it?  Dunno, and can't easily see how to find
> out.
> I'm only slightly less dense and uninformed than I've implied here, or
> in other words, there is a little exaggeration in what I've said, but
> very little.  The list summaries are written by insiders for insiders,
> and there's nothing wrong with that, but when a non-maintained mirror
> of them is presented as the primary source of project status, that's
> not a PR problem, that's a PR wormhole that sucks potentially
> interested parties off into other galaxies where you will never see
> them again.

It is tricky for Craig (or anyone else) outside to know whether Perl 6 is
a project of interest to them. Asking someone outside to volunteer,
currently, is a pig in a poke. How much is really going on? How do they
determine whether investing the effort to learn about it sufficient to get
involved and be productive is worthwhile?

Yves made an observation that I found interesting:

There seems to be markedly different culture between Perl 5 and Perl 6
development. Perl 5, as something widely deployed in production, is developed
by people who have to sell what they do, typically to people who don't know
the details, and don't want or need to know - it's about getting jobs done
now. Perl 6, as something still under development, feels more like an
academics researching the best way to do something. It feels like the
difference between an enterprise culture (with all the compromises and
ugliness that involves), and university. [And in some way this is true,
because Pugs drew in a lot of Haskell hackers, and Audrey has observed to
me that GHC is optimised for writing compilers such as Pugs, because the
principle use of GHC is to compile GHC. Likewise Parrot tries to get it
right, now, because once decisions made and baked into APIs and behaviour,
you have to live with them for the rest of its life]

So I feel (strongly) that right now it needs some of the people who already
know that it's worth it, and have the intuition of what is important to
summarise, to start fixing this, which should then draw more people in from
the culture of "Perl is about getting my job done", who start to learn why
Perl 6 is worth them investing their time in learning, and hopefully as a
result finding time to help with.

But this is not about Perl 5 Porters.

One thing Perl 5 PR-related I'm really missing is David's summaries.
I'd guess that David wouldn't object to help in getting them restarted.
I remember a comment he relayed when he started them last year, that someone
had thought that Perl 5 development is dead, because he'd heard nothing, and
it was a pleasant surprise to find that it was not.

Meanwhile I have things to think about merging to maint, which I should get
back to.

Nicholas Clark Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
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