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Re: Another perldoc shortcut

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Tom Christiansen
May 19, 2008 22:03
Re: Another perldoc shortcut
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Say Gisle, is there a more recent version of perl illguts than the 1999
version sitting on CPAN, and if so, where might I please access it?  




Hey, you!  

Are you guys *all* still here?  What's that about?  Didn't you like, see
the signature?  You *do* know that that means the letter's over, don't you?
It's like at the cinema when the lights come up and the credits roll by:
everybody gets up and leaves.

Oh, very well; there *is* a bit more--like, um, what Gisle's message was
about in the first place. :) So I guess I *should* comment upon your
proposal, Gisle, especially given how I asked a question of you.  After
all, it seems only only fair.

But listen: any non-history buffs, or anti-nostalgics, are not only more
than perfectly welcome to type q to quit, they are furthermore strongly
discouraged from any and all semblance of complaint that they didn't, if
they don't and wished that they had.


In his epistle of "Fri, 02 May 2008 10:12:58 +0200.",
rather quietly per his wont, Gisle Aas <>
suggested the following small proposal:

> It suddenly occurred to me that I was tied of typing 'perldoc perlfoo'
> when 'perldoc foo' ought to do.  So I propose the following patch:

Me, I got even tireder of it, which is part of why I long ago suggested
that one merely type the name of the manpage itself--sort of like a self-
executing document, to get it all to happen.

Not only did I suggest it, I even documented it, something I did only
*after* duly securing Larry's explicit blessing to include it with
the next release of Perl.

From v3 of _Programming Perl_:

    =head2 Searching the Manpages

    Nobody expects you to read through all 1,500 typeset pages just to find a
    needle in a haystack.  There's an old saying that you can't
    grep<footnote>Don't forget there's a glossary if you need it.</footnote>
    dead trees.  Besides the customary search capabilities inherent in most
    document viewing programs, as of the 5.6.1 release of Perl, each main Perl
    manpage has its own search and display capability.  You can search
    individual pages by using the name of the manpage as the command, and
    passing a Perl regular expression (see L<Chapter ##, Pattern Matching>) to
    search for:

        % perlop comma

        % perlfunc split

        % perlvar ARGV

        % perldiag 'assigned to typeglob'

    When you don't know quite where something is in the documentation,
    you can expand your search.  For example, to search all the FAQs,
    use the I<perlfaq> command (which is also a manpage):

        % perlfaq round


Why, not only did I suggest it, ask and receive the appropriate
permission for it, and then document it, I *also* then duly
proceeded to implement the code, FULLY.  

And it worked just fine---great, even.

So I thought it was a done deal, and I was glad.


This was way back during that summer of 2000.  Like that of any of us, my
code I could guarantee to work only on those systems I had personal and
direct access to.  That meant at the time SunOS, Solaris, Linux, and BSD.
I had no Mac, no Wintel box; not even VMS.  

Like the rename/relink/pathedit code I posted yesterday, it relied
upon links, preferably hard ones, looking thus to $0 to determine
what it should do with itself.

It was *supposed* to go into the release, long long ago.  Larry
had agreed to this, or I wouldn't have put it in the book.

But it didn't, all because I didn't have access to any machines where links
didn't work, nor familiarity with the same, and so couldn't write whatever
wrappers would have been necessary for Wintel etc.  And no one who *did*
have access to such machines stepped up to doing whatever needed doing.

I'm rather bitter about that, as you see.  I know, I know: I *shouldn't*
be, because it's never right to expect other people to do your work for
you.  But I wasn't prepared to go off and beg, buy, borrow, or violate a
Windows machine [ok, the violation would've been ok] all to then learn
enough about how the icky stuff worked sufficiently well to do the job
myself.  I *think* a bunch of tiny "batch files"[?] would have sufficed,
but again, I was then and very largely still am now ignorant of how things
work in that dark land.  So I feel like I got stuck, powerless (well,
lacking the will) to make it happen.

This annoyed me a *great* deal, not merely because I *HAD* written all the
code.  No, it was most especially because the system I wrote was already
described in print.  Thus it risked making Larry (and Jon (and me)) look as
though we didn't know what we were talk about, right there at the start of
whole book.  This was pretty egg-on-the-face shaming, worsened because the
egg shouldn't have been there at all--the code I wrote about *was*
written--let alone cast upon the faces of others.

To be perfectly honest, I no longer recall the particular details
surrounding that time.  But that's what I *think* I remember of it.  

I do know that was also about when we for the first time had two
pumpkings, with Sarathy on 5.6 maintenance and Jarkko on 5.7
development.  This may or may not have had anything to do with it.  

As I said, I no longer remember clearly the particulars of the matter, nor
care I to research them now.  

I believe it was that fundamentally, I was imply too burnt-out right then
to exert the energy necessary to Make It Happen.  But that burn-out wasn't
*just* from writing like, oh, 11 final pages per day (that means like 30
nonfinal ones) for nearly 3 months solid, day in and day out end without a
break or a beer.

Sure, that was part of it, but it was probably moreso from all the rancor,
the feuds and in-fighting that was rending the Perl "community" at that
time.  This was what both gave rise to Larry's decision to redirect people
at a new perl6 project (which indeed solved much of it).  

But it also overwhelmed all of us, him not least, with what was to turn out
to be a super-huge RFP-submission process, which, come to think of it, was
really pretty much the last thing I did in the perl-devel world.  Larry got
many more "requests" than he ever expected to receive.   The road to
finalizing those was scorched terribly with many the bitter and bilious
flamefest--which, like all such, was full of sound and fury but ultimately
signified nothing.  

Yes, of course I participated in those, as some number of you will recall.
Maybe even more than was a good idea.  But that was that, and atop everything
else, it was just too much.

So afterwards, I believe I just gave in and gave up--and went away.

Haven't really done much since (pace Nathan).  Cameras, I guess.

But I've never unsubscribed from p5p, even though you nearly never hear
from me--though when you do, it's anything but brief.  Sometimes I'm
lurking, but usually I'm larking.  I always feel good--and surprised--when
I see the truly long-familiar names showing up.  Not that there are all
that very many of those left, but those that there are, there are.

And so it's especially odd to me (perhaps in part because of the lurking,
which makes me not feel so gone as I'm perceived) how *every*single*year*
since 2000 when I come to Tim's Perl Conference, something I've done
annually since its inception, *many* people are absolutely astounded to see
me there--though of course, a few aren't.  But *those* I sure don't need to 
take my shoes off to count.

Still, I don't know many people besides Larry and myself (well, and Tim;
duh) who've attended every one.  Gnat, I think perhaps.  But we shall see
what happens this summer, now shan't we?  

I always get these surprised shocks when "strangers" read my name badge,
an effect I find somewhat unsettling and somewhat its reverse.  I gather
they thought I'd died or something. :-)  I'm of course happy for them 
to learn otherwise.

But what I *REALLY* wish people would stop asking me is whether *Perl* is
dead. :-(  No, really, I kid you not: they do it *all* the time.  The very
question so confusticates me that I never have a snappy answer at ready,
and some take this as tacit confirmation to their question.  I sometimes 
get the idea that these are those who, thinking Perl some sort of unreaped 
zombie-language, go wandering away silently sorry that "they" had to be the 
ones to sadly inform me of poor Perl's demise.  :-)

Matters of Perl6 aside, the bang-up job you guys have done for perl5.10,
all the stupendous growth and refinement seen between the Perl of 2000 and
the Perl of 2008, *really* proves not just how wrong, but how very wrong
they are.  I just have to figure out how to tell them this.

Pity how the new-young-things never quite see it that way, although
which direction the pity flows is um, perhaps other than clear.

You know the old saw about how nobody knows what programming language
they'll be using come the year 2100, how they only know that whatever it
is, it'll be called FORTRAN?  Well, that's kinda how I see Perl.  I fully
expect Perl to outlive me, and I *think* Larry feels similarly.  I just
have no idea what it'll look like then.  Heck, with all the great stuff
you guys have done here, I'm not even sure perl5 won't outlive me!  

It was good to have boundless energy once--and, well, somebody has to 
do it.  I myself escaped university but a scant few months before Perl's
debut, and I downloaded, built, and used it the *VERY* first day it
hit our news spool.

I don't know which is odder: the kids some of us were 20 years ago now
variously greying or paunchy or gone, or just less energetic, or the "kids"
of today, the young Turks so full of vigor and ideas, people who weren't
yet programmers and maybe not yet even *people* back at the end of 1987.

I'm glad they're here, though.  

Gosh, all I seem to write any more is history lessons!  But given how
often those who forget history doom themselves or their descendents to
repeat it, maybe it's good that I write them anyway.  Maybe.

Oh my goodness!  I think I'm having a Peter Salus moment!  Egads!



    "Portable: a program that runs on *both* BSD and SysV."

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