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Dropping 5.5 support from my modules.

Michael G Schwern
November 18, 2007 19:17
Dropping 5.5 support from my modules.
Message ID:
This is an announcement that my modules will no longer try to be backwards
compatible with 5.5.x.  This includes ExtUtils::MakeMaker and Test::More.
Toolchain modules will now target 5.6.0.  Modules not part of the build
toolchain will be moving up to 5.8.0.

This doesn't mean I'm going to go right now and bust compatibility, I just
won't be checking for it anymore or doing any more free work to support it (if
someone wants to pay for it, that's fine).  Patches will still be accepted as
long as they don't cause too much disruption.

The consequences of this change are that 5.5 is effectively end-of-lifed.
Without MakeMaker or Test::More support most modules cannot be installed.
Eventually modules will start to use new features of Test::More and MakeMaker
and 5.5 users will be unable to upgrade.  The upside is that this de-facto
releases everyone else from having to support 5.5.  If one part of the chain
won't work there's no point in putting effort into the rest.

Why make this change now?  I've always been frustrated at being hamstrung from
using "new" features of perl.  The Perl Survey results is what pushed me over
the edge. [1]  Only 6% of the respondents say they used 5.5.x as their
*minimum* version of Perl in the last year and 0.5% said 5.5.x was their max.
 As we didn't get specific about what they used those versions for, I suspect
there's a lot of CPAN testers that reported it as their min.  I rarely get bug
reports from actual 5.5 users, they're almost always from CPAN testers.  Thus,
it's not a large enough population for me to spend my unpaid time and effort
on and to delay new features.

Also, I think SEVEN YEARS (how long ago 5.6.0 came out, five for 5.8.0) is
long enough for folks to get around to upgrading.

Finally, I'm coming around to chromatic's philosophy:  why are we worry about
the effect of upgrades on users who don't upgrade?  Alan Burlson's comments
about Solaris vs Linux are telling:  if you're worried more about supporting
your existing users then finding new ones, you're dead.

[1]  Yes, I realize we have no clear idea of what portion of the actual Perl
population the survey represents, but some information is better than no
information and frankly I'm sick of 5.5 anyway.

If at first you don't succeed--you fail.
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