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Re: [perl #109408] Documentation that refers to Perl 5 as new

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Nicholas Clark
January 31, 2012 08:03
Re: [perl #109408] Documentation that refers to Perl 5 as new
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On Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 08:43:36AM -0700, Tom Christiansen wrote:
> > The ticket's more general question remains, about the start of "new".
> I am somewhat leary about calling something "new" (as opposed to  "new to
> 5.x"), because it's going to be dated soon enough no matter what you do.
> Maybe one could use "recent" instead at times, but that still gets stale.
> It doesn't seem to make much sense to call things "new" that appeared in a
> release that's no longer supported.

Sorry, to be clear, I didn't mean to suggest using an unadorned "new".
I still mean "new in v5.8" or "new in v5.12". But I meant that we should
pick a release before which we don't feel the need to highlight features
added in it at all. And in the future when we move the cutoff forward,
trim the parts of the documentation that are no longer accurate in
advertising something as new.

I don't think that we should be using unadorned "new" at all, even "new in
this release", as it will so easily date, and effectively represents a
maintenance liability, because they have to be manually corrected in the
near future.

> I think I myself generally call "recent" the current or previous release,
> and stop there.  That means 5.12 is recent and 5.10 isn't.  But not for long.
> Maybe 3 years for recent?  Dunno.
> One problem is how vendors take decades to ship recent Perl, so that 
> changes the recent yardstick to people who just use whatever they 
> have shoved at them.  But that's not our fault, and I don't think 
> it helps anyone for us to try to cater to it.

Agree on ages - 5.8.8 was release 6 years ago today, is still the
/usr/bin/perl in at least 2 widely distributed commercially supported
Linux distributions.

It's subjective, but I disagree on the last part - I think it does help
people using or upgrading from these common older versions if we mention in
current documentation that features are newer. It acts somewhat as an
advertisement in what you could have if you upgraded, and it stops anyone
from being confused or frustrated if they are reading newer documentation
but working on (or targeting portability back to) an earlier version.

(Interestingly, my hunch on what is most common is already wrong - the 2010
Perl Survey showed 5.10.x just ahead of 5.8.x:

However, in 2010, all the firms that I was aware of Perl version were still
on 5.8.5 or 5.8.8.

Admittedly a small number, but the fact that none had even upgraded to
5.8.9, which should be trivial, suggested that there was uniformity in
the lag on organisations whose main application runs on Perl.)

Nicholas Clark

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