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Re: Future Perl development

Nicholas Clark
February 27, 2007 12:32
Re: Future Perl development
Message ID:
[and y'all thought that this thread was dead. Well, no, it's undead. :-)]

On Wed, Feb 07, 2007 at 04:02:00PM -0800, Jan Dubois wrote:

> Indeed. Surprisingly there seems to be more industry funded Tcl
> development work than there is for Perl.  I'm just guessing here, but my
> feeling about it is that the Tcl (enterprise) users know they have a
> small community, so stuff they want won't get done unless they pay
> someone to do it.  For Perl there seems to be a huge community, so the
> expectation that something might get done anyways is that much higher.

I forgot to say:

I think that from the "outside" this is a reasonable assumption to make.
But it goes wrong because the huge community around Perl is busy doing things
outside the core. I believe that the rate of code upload to CPAN is

Work on the core, particularly *work* (defined below, as opposed to "fun")
is slowing.

On Thu, Feb 08, 2007 at 10:12:15AM +0100, Richard Foley wrote:

> It would be a good target for a fund-raising group though.  Specifically 
> tasked with:
> 	1. Raising corporate awareness of the _current_ perl, 
> 	2. Raising funds from these companies for further development/support.
> 	3. Feeding those funds directly to specific core tasks.
> Given the recent discussions on this list, it might seem like an uphill 
> battle, but isn't that the point?  Something along these lines might even 
> have a positive knock-on side-effect for perl in general.

If the three steps can be made to loop into a virtuous circle, that would
be good. But following chats on IRC and at the German Perl Workshop, I'm
not sure how to make step 3 work.

Specifically, the core tasks that need doing are

1: answering bug reports
2: reviewing and where appropriate applying patches
3: fixing bugs
4: getting things release ready


1: I don't think that these constitute a full time job. I think that steady
   state maint is about 1 day per week, and blead about 1 day per week.

2: The tasks above are not particularly fun jobs.

3: I'm not sure that there are really sufficient tasks in the perl todo to
   keep someone busy for the other 3 days a week (for that long) even if
   full time funding were to appear.

4: I'm unaware of any one person who is both capable and keen to do work on
   the core full time (but alone) if funding were available.

It has been suggested that it could be funded by offering perl support
contracts. But in turn

1: I'm not sure how much that overlaps with what ActiveState already do
2: As a one-man-band the thought of selling a "panic level" service on the
   core would scare me because
   a: There are parts of the core I don't know at all well. Without help from
      other (unpaid) people round here I'd be stuck
   b: Sod's law will ensure that sooner or later merchant bank number 2 will
      phone up with a crisis whilst one is working flat out on bank number 1's

      In theory you solve this by having backup people. But the number of
      people with core knowledge good enough currently seems so small that
      you'd need pretty much all the active committers.
   (and note c: I don't actually want to do this, and I'm aware of other
    active committers who don't, but not aware of any who do)
3: There comes a conflict between the quick fix to get a firm moving, and the
   best (portable) solution to commit to core. So does one end up supporting
   many fragmented perl installations, or instead end up compromising the
   core with rushed commits?

Maybe I'm pessimistic. But I'm aware from a friend that at financial
institutions, the financial risk or losses from not having some software
running (in his area because it's not yet written) can be around $1,000,000
per day. The stakes are high.

Nicholas Clark Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
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