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Re: What happened to the whole "small core" idea?

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Ricardo Signes
October 29, 2012 19:34
Re: What happened to the whole "small core" idea?
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* Peter Rabbitson <> [2012-10-26T10:41:14]
> I've tried in earnest to just not say anything about this topic, given 
> the backlash I received last time I spoke up. Yet here I am again, so 
> apologies for the noise and blood-pressure fluctuations beforehand.

Okay, I finally read this thread.  My power is coming and going, at home, but I
think I should have long enough to get off a reply.  First, though:

> I am directly CCing a number of people who at least in my eye currently 
> (or formerly) comprise "the core of the core". I know most of you read 
> the list, but it felt more complete that way ;)

Not to single you out, but folks do this a bunch to me.  Please, don't.  It
gets me confused.  I'm on the list.  I read all the mail on it.  Extra copies
going to folders other than the list one just wreck my workflow.  I know it's
petty, and it's not a big deal, but I'd appreciate not getting 2+ copies.

Please read the whole reply before forming an opinion. :)

> I will start with the TL;DR - I can not fathom why given Perl's *exceptional*
> modularization track record, the general tendency on p5p still is "MOAR CORE

I don't this is really a general tendency on p5p.  I think that some people
want a new feature for X, some for Y, some for Z, and if you OR all those
desires together, it looks like we're opening our arms to all kinds of new
things.  On the other hand, the person who wants X doesn't want anything else,
the one pining for Y will fight X and Z tooth and nail, and the Z backer will,
he swears to God, fork perl before he lets you add W.

So I think things tend to be pretty balanced out.

> ...the brilliant strategy championed by Obra (Jesse Vincent)...

I am at least in part on board with Aristotle's reading of that strategy.  It
was all about stopping the growth of the language, but about modularizing what
existed and allowing the language to grow safely, and to be ported to new

I think he had a lot of good things to say, but I don't judge the value of new
suggestions by the degree to which they hew to what he described.

> What happened to the “ship it on CPAN and see” mantra?

I'm still all for it.  Do you think there is something that *has* gone into
perl in 5.14 or 5.16 that should have been a CPAN thing instead, and could
have?  Nothing is springing to mind.  We added 'my sub' but (a) as an expressly
experimental feature and (b) I do not believe, based on my understanding, that
it would have been worth doing as a CPAN module rather than this strategy, in
this particular case.

I don't think it's necessarily interesting to talk about features that we've
*talked about* but not *added.*

For example...

> Let's focus on sub signatures for a bit.

Yes, let's!

Later on in this thread, you say something like, "people are talking about
getting this into 5.18."  I never thought this was seriously considered.  That
is, I thought maybe some were hoping to see it become an experimental feature,
but not anything we'd be stuck with once we proved it stank.

...but really, I didn't think it was even going to get that far.  But did
it have to become a discussion about that?  I didn't think so.  There were two
important things to figure out:  (a) how can we get perl equipped with hooks
for signature systems that share a common underpining so we can figure out what
a good "core" one might be and (b) what might that core one be?

(a) would be nice to see, at least experimentally in 5.18

(b) seems like it will be an ongoing discussion; why not have some of it on
p5p?  and if there's an implementation that is built in a branch, without the
benefit of the hooks suggested by 'a' that lets us play with the things as
discussed... awesome!

Having said that, I was surprised to see that people did really seem to think
that this feature had to go forward, had to go in core, and that your position
was unreasonable.

If I thought you were being unreasonable, it was because I thought you were
attributing to everyone else a position that I didn't think was present.
Take solace, I suppose:  I stand as a bulwark against things being committed
prematurely.  You have heard me bemoan the things that have been added without
sufficient restraint, and I know you will believe that the last thing I want is
to be "the guy who was on watch when [the worst thing ever added to Perl 5] was

I think Peter's work is fantastic, too, and I think that he has been a real
trooper in the endless threads.  I also think the endless threads have been
pretty good, with *relatively* little bikeshedding. :)

As you noted, the bikeshedding is largely about design decisions that have
*not* been proved on CPAN or become a standard.  This is a warning sign that
it's maybe not baked enough.  I don't think that means that we should stop
talking about it, or stop building on the code that implements it.  That
currently-in-a-branch-of-perl code seems pretty good, and may very well be the
code that does evolve into something proven enough to become the beloved
reference implementation of signatures.  After all, it's from that code that
the signature-adding APIs will probably be born, right?

> IMNSHO Perl5 does not need *any* extra *syntax* from here on out. In fact it
> stopped needing it around 5.6-ish.

...followed by...

> No new syntax unless there is a massive benefit in adding it, and even then
> only if it can not be done via a CPAN-distributed extension.

Those stand in opposition.  :-)  I agree more or less with the second.
"Massive" is a relative term, and I think the question is its awesomenss mass
relative to its suck mass.  I love the stuffing out of s///r, and while I
might not call it a massive benefit, I think it is a huge improvement.  I think
`package NAME VERSION` was right to add.  Etc.

I agree, though: measure twice, cut once.

> Perl5 just turned 18 a week ago (according to a0d0e21ea6e). It is now 
> legal to express ones love to this great dynamic language in every way 
> possible. What better time to ask where is Perl5 going and why can't it 
> stay Perl5?

It's going wherever the written, reviewed, and accepted patches take it, and my
duty is to make sure that its future is one of stable-to-increasing
Perl5ishness.  On that front, I want to be clear that I think that the
subroutine signatures stuff as implemented so far, would still be Perl 5 and
perl5ish.  That just isn't enough.

Finally, to recap:  I am super stoked about the signatures stuff, and I think
it is going to lead to a good place over the next year or two, even if the
place is not "a Spring 2013 where Perl 5's core has subroutine signatures."


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