develooper Front page | perl.perl6.meta | Postings from May 2006

Perl 6 User FAQ (perl.perl6.meta) -- Version: 2006-05-13 (beta 2)

Conrad Schneiker
May 14, 2006 01:13
Perl 6 User FAQ (perl.perl6.meta) -- Version: 2006-05-13 (beta 2)
Message ID:
This note is crossposted to perl.perl6.language; please include
perl.perl6.meta on replies.]

Feedback on the draft FAQ below will be appreciated. TIA.

Anyone have a contact at Google they can ping about getting
Google Groups to start picking up comp.perl6.meta?

===== Perl 6 User FAQ (perl.perl6.meta) ======

       Version: 2006-05-14 (beta 2)


* About perl.perl6.meta (and this FAQ)
* About Perl 6              # True marketing hype, in both senses. :-)
* General Perl 6 status     # On the move!
* Latest Perl 6 developments
* Perl 6 info and docs      # For the few that will RTFM first. :-)
* Where to get Perl 6       # <----- "I want it now!!" <-----
* Useful Perl 6 modules
* Perl 6 features in the latest Perl 5
* Perl 5 modules implementing Perl 6 features
* Incremental migration from Perl 5 to Perl 6
* Other useful resources
* How you can help out with Perl 6
* Glossary
* Copyright, license, and disclosure

=== About perl.perl6.meta (and this FAQ) ===

(Newbie warning! Perl 6 is still UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Don't make 
important plans that depend on it just yet. Please see other sections 
below about intermediate Perl 6-related solutions you can use now.)

A major aim of this newsgroup (NG) is to help out early-adapters of
Perl 6 (including early learners and early test drivers). This is a
forum for seeking and sharing the latest general news and information
about *using* (versus creating) Perl 6. (Presently, the other Perl 6
NGs are primarily for developers *of* Perl 6, versus for Perl 6
developers.) However, the time for sharing the -Ofun more widely has
arrived. Some enterprising folks are already using *pieces* of the
emerging Perl 6 infrastructure for $work. Parts of Perl 6 are being
implemented in Perl 5 (some internally, some as modules).  Wider
experimentation with Perl 6 will help test out the emerging collection 
of docs, and help determine practical priorities for improvements.

Suggested additional content (preferably including the content, or
links to it) and corrections for this FAQ are always welcome. Please
post them to perl.perl6.meta with the subject line "FAQ feedback".

Think of this NG as the prototype for the future comp.lang.perl6.misc
NG. When traffic warrants it, we'll apply for official Usenet "big 8"
comp.* status.

You can access this NG several ways:

* Point your newsreader to ( Need a decent Windows
   newsreader? ( works for me.
* Some time soon, you should also be able to find us on Google Groups.
* Subject lines of NG posts with link to each post can be found at
   this archive: (
* Here's the RSS feed:

<<FAQ "to do" notes and meta-comments are in double angle bracket
pairs, as illustrated here.>>

=== About Perl 6 ===

What is Perl 6? Perl 6 is an extensively refactored, super-modernized,
and ultra-supercharged derivative of Perl 5. Simple things will still
be simple to do, but you'll have enormously more "programming
leverage" available for tackling challenging tasks. Here is a good
introductory article on why Perl 6 is needed, and what it is:

When it comes to embracing "embrace and extend", Perl 6 is
exceptionally promiscuous: Perl 6 has (selectively) borrowed widely
from our many friends, including Ruby, Python, Smalltalk, Lisp,
Haskell, and others. Here is a brief summary of some notable Perl 6
features, starting from the list in
(, plus a variety of additions and

* optional explicit strong typing
* proper parameter lists
* active metadata on values, variables, subroutines, and types
* declarative classes with strong encapsulation
* full OO exception handling
* support for the concurrent use of multiple versions of a module
* extensive and powerful introspection facilities (including of POD)
* LL and LR grammars (including a built-in grammar for Perl 6 itself)
* subroutine overloading
* multiple dispatch (multimethods)
* named arguments
* a built-in switch statement
* hierarchical construction and destruction
* distributive method dispatch
* method delegation
* named regexes
* overlapping and exhaustive regex matches within a string
* named captures
* parse-tree pruning
* incremental regex matching against input streams
* macros (that are implemented in Perl itself)
* full Unicode processing support
* user-definable operators (from the full Unicode set)
* chained comparisons
* a universally accessible aliasing mechanism
* lexical exporting (via a cleaner, declarative syntax)
* multimorphic equality tests
* state variables
* hypothetical variables
* hyperoperators (i.e. vector processing)
* function currying
* junctions (i.e. superpositional values, subroutines, and types)
* coroutines
* better threading
* better garbage collection
* much better foreign function interface (cross-language support)
* invariant sigils, plus twigils (minimalist symbolic "Hungarian")
* many widely useful objects/types
* lazy evaluation (including virtual infinite lists)

Holy freeking cow! How can most mere mortals contend with all this
stuff? Well, the good news is that *you* most likely *won't* ever need
to know or use much of this stuff. You can learn and use a moderate
and comfortable subset of Perl 6 that meets your typical needs.
However these features provide an extremely powerful toolkit for
experts to produce modules and other tools that you can use (without
you needing to know about their internal wiring and plumbing). Perhaps
counterintuitively, many of these features will make Perl 6
substantially easier and simpler than Perl 5 for more advanced
applications (once you get used to it). Many of these features will
also help "future-proof" Perl 6 by providing many means of
incorporating new extensions.

OK, so given that semi-awesome interconnecting maize of features,
what's the "big picture", executive-level overview from 35,000 feet
look like?

First of all, think of Perl 6 as the heart of (what will be) the
vastly larger software super-system of C6PAN (which will subsume Perl
5’s CPAN, an already large and powerful collection of Perl 5 modules).
Likewise, think of Perl 6 as including the Parrot virtual machine
(which will also support other allied programming languages, and
mutually shared libraries between them), plus whatever other backends
are eventually supported (Javascript 2 aka ECMAScript Edition 4 is

For convenience, we'll use "Perl 6++" to mean this larger "Perl 6 +
C6PAN + Parrot" super-system (and whatever cohorts become affiliated
with it).

So what roles do these integrated capabilities ultimately position
Perl 6++ for? Here are some slighly speculative (but hopefully self-
fulfilling) prophecies (using an "odds-meter" liklihood threshold of

* Perl 6++ is going to be the counterpart of world English (which
   exceeds all other languages in importing new concepts).
* Perl 6++ is going to be the software world’s first counterpart of
   the Great Library of Alexandra. (CPAN was a valuable first baby step
   towards this development.)
* Perl 6++ is going to be the first *mainstream-strength*
   super-morphic programming system. (Extremely important!)
* Perl 6++ will carry us to the age of kilo-core, mega-thread, 100
   GHz, tera-byte microprocessors and the trillion+ node Internet.
* Perl 6++ is thus going to be the principal collaborative software
   system of super-natural human intelligence. ("Real AI" is still a
   long way off, but the spectacular human cognitive revolution is
   still in its early infancy.)

In summary, Perl 6++ is going to be a major cornerstone and leading
catalyst of a "Software Renaissance", and as such, Perl 6++ will
become the "software launch pad" of the (so-called) "Singularity Age".
(By that time, however, Perl 6++ will have evolved into Perl 7++. Perl
6++ will make the development of its eventual inevitable successor
very much easier, and it will likewise help strongly accelerate the
advance of other existing and new languages as well.)

Whatever the next "world's greatest programming system" happens to be
(after Perl 6++, that is), it's very likely that Perl 6++ will play
predominant roles in prototyping it, launching it, and providing it
the  competitive advantage of under-the-covers access to C6PAN.
Because of this, I suspect the winner of the next round of competitive
programming system evolution will probably be designated Perl 7++ by
acclimation, even if it's not a @Larry project.

=== General Perl 6 status ===

<<List is very sketchy and incomplete.>>

* Design:

     * The major language domains are fairly complete, but many
       {corner, borderline} cases are still {incompletely, tentatively}

* Documentation: (See later section for current doc links.)

     * The on-line docs are undergoing tremendous improvement.
     * No up-to-date Perl 6 books at the moment.
     * Part of motivation for (reincarnated) perl.perl6.meta NG and FAQ
       is to help with interim user documentation (including generating
       useful archives for point-of-departure searching).

* Implementation:

     * Front ends:

         * Perl 6: Pugs
         * Perl 5 to Perl 5 (to Perl 6) translator

     * Middleware

         * <<To be completed.>>

     * Back ends

         * Parrot (from Pugs)
         * Javascript (from Pugs)
         * Haskell runtime (from Pugs)
         * Perl5 <<status?>>

     * Bridgeware (Perl 5 <--> Perl 6)

         * Ponie: This is an important missing piece to make Perl 5 and
           CPAN run on Parrot. (Big corporate support for this project
           would be great.)
         * Perl5  modules for Perl 6 features.

* Performance:

     * Very slow at present <<explain why>>, but it's getting better
       and is already good enough for serious experimenting.

After years of seemingly glacial but important preliminary work in 
2000-­2004, there has been a gathering avalanche of Perl 6 development 
work since early 2005. Over-enthusiasm is now in danger of replacing 
over-pessimism, so we're strictly limiting ourselves to mere wild 
enthusiasm here.

So when will Perl 6 be ready? The semi-official answer is "When it's
done"--there is no official schedule. Some *wild* guesses are:

* "early alpha something" by Christmas 2006
* "first production beta" in summer 2007
* "first production release" by New Year's Eve 2007

=== Latest Perl 6 developments ===

<<Recent language changes.>>

<<Recent prototype advances.>>

<<Temporary gotchas>>

=== Where to get Perl 6 ===

Pugs: (

Parrot: (

Win32 binary builds of Pugs and Parrot:

* (
* ( appears to have stopped routinely updating their Win32

=== Perl 6 info and docs ===

Links to design documents and lots of other info:

* Misc.: (
* Synopsis: (
* Perl 6 FAQ: (

<<Find link to Perl 6 FUD FAQ.>>

"Planet Perl Six is an aggregator of select Perl 6 related blogs." It
includes weekly Perl6 summaries (currently lapsed) and weekly Perl 6
meeting minutes (<<what happened to them?>>):

IRC channels (and their archives) are a major source of useful
information. The #perl6 IRC channel is on (
"TimToady" is Larry Wall's nickname on that channel. Need an IRC
client on Windows? I use Chatzilla, a Firefox extension:

Some handy #perl6-isms:

* ?eval <Perl 6 expression>     # Replays with evaluated expression.
* perlbot nopaste               # Use to paste blocks of text offline,
                                 #   replies with URL to it.

Perl 6 newsgroups, at ( and Google
Groups (

* perl.perl6.internals
* perl.perl6.language
* perl.perl6.compiler
* perl.perl6.announce

You can also get these by email; see
( for details
(and make appropriate substitutions on "-internals" for other groups).

Who's Who in Perl 6, Parrot, & Pugs:

The O'Reilly website sometimes has interesting article about Perl 6

=== Useful Perl 6 modules ===

<<To be completed.>>

<<Moose, and so on.>>

=== Perl 6 features in the latest Perl 5 ===

<<To be completed.>>

=== Perl 5 modules implementing Perl 6 features ===

<<Moose, and so on>>

There are many modules that implement parts of Perl 6 in Perl 5.
Go to ( and do a module search on "perl6":


(Note: ( is missing many entries.
Use the search above for the time being.)

=== Incremental migration from Perl 5 to Perl 6 ===

<<To be completed.>>

=== Other useful resources ===

Perl development server: (

Some interesting background reading:

* "Best Perl Practices" by Damian Conway. Even though this currently
   applies to Perl 5, most of the principles also apply to Perl 6. This
   is a semi-officially recommended guideline for people doing develop
   core Perl 6 modules and tests.
* <<Ref to 100 year language. (,
* "Confessions of a Used Programming Language Salesman;
   Getting the Masses Hooked on Haskell" by Erik Meijer:
* <<Find ref. to multi-paradigm programming and capability-based
   security programming book.>>

Important developments to watch:

* PITA - The Perl Image Testing Architecture (
* Darren Duncan's work on a Perl 6 Relation type (as in relational
   algebra and data structures). <<Summary link?>>

<<Creative and practical ($work) applications of existing pieces Perl
6 pieces (Parrot, Perl5 transition modules).>>

Perl 6 Internals:

* "A Peek Into Pugs Internals"

=== How you can help out with Perl 6 ===

There is lots of useful Perl 6 support work that doesn't require you
to be a lambda camel uber-hacker (or any other sort of wizard). There
is a growing body of evolving docs that can use periodic proof-reading
and cross-checking. There are lots more docs that need to be written.
There are a wide range of Perl 6 tests that need to be written to more
comprehensively check out interim versions of Perl 6, and thus help
speed up its evolution into a production quality system.

Here's a specific suggestion. Watch the Perl 6 language newsgroup and
"#per6" Perl 6 IRC channel and make sure that answers to questions
about "How do I do <whatever> in Perl 6?" got turned into entries in
the Perl 6 Cookbook.

Here's some related suggestions: Make sure that every Cookbook entry
has an associated test (perhaps mutually cross-referenced). Mine Perl
6 feature tests for useful items to add to the Cookbook.

You could also help out with this FAQ.

There are lots of related projects that could be pursued. One
important area is programming support. Perl 6 editing and refactoring
support in OSS IDEs such as Eclipse and Netbeans would be very
valuable. A Perl 6 semi-clone of Netbeans' Matisse GUI designer based
on wxWidgets would be an awesome start for a Perl 6 IDE + RCP (rich
client platform). (Like Parrot, this should be designed to make its
advanced tools available to Ruby, Python, Tcl/Tk, Smalltalk, Lisp,
Java, C/C++, Mono, and so on.) It should also have the basic
foundation of a world-class programming editor + documentation word
processor that (somehow!) takes the best ideas from GVIM (vi/vim +
GUI), XEmacs (emacs + X11), Knuth's Tex and "Literary Programming",
and Mathematica's notebooks, yet also include the now-"semi-universal"
Windows editing control keys (^x, ^c, ^v, ^z, ^y, ^f, ^a, ^s, ^p, ^n)
plus drag-and-drop editing.

<<Add links to locations of tests and Cookbook.>

=== Glossary ===

"-Ofun" is Audrey Tang's guiding "optimize for fun" policy philosophy
for Pugs.

"@Larry" is the small team of Perl 6 language design wizards headed up
by Larry Wall.

Parrot is a register-based virtual machine, which is designed to be
good at hosting dynamic languages (Perl 6 in particular, but it also
aims to easily and effeciently accomodate Ruby, Python, and so on).
Parrot is intended to be a modern successor to the older stack-based
JVM (Java) and CLR (C#, etc.) virtual machines. Parrot also aims to
support cross-language module sharing.

"Perl 5" and "Perl 6" are names of programming language dialects,
whereas "perl5" and "perl6" are the corresponding (installed) names
of compilers used to run programs written in these languages.

PIL is "Pugs Intermediate Language".

PIR is "Parrot Intermediate Representation".

Pugs is a prototype Perl 6 compiler front end (among other things)
that is written in Haskell.

YAML is "Yet Another Markup Language". According to (,
"YAML(tm) (rhymes with "camel") is a straightforward machine parsable
data serialization format designed for human readability and
interaction with scripting languages such as Perl and Python. YAML is
optimized for data serialization, configuration settings, log files,
Internet messaging and filtering."

=== Copyright, license, and disclosure ===

This FAQ copyrighted/licensed by Conrad [dot] Schneiker [at] GMail
[dot] com under the most currently prevailing Perl 6 (Pugs)

Anti-OSS-FUD historical disclosure: The production and distribution of
open source software (and documentation) is (1) a fundamental
*capitalist* *right* of (mutually consenting) *voluntary* *exchange*
that is (2) also a noble and honorable civic virtue that (3)
constitutes a modern generalization of the various widespread 19th and
20th century networks of (the better) fraternal organizations of
business people who (4) generously donated their time, effort, and
money to (5) collaboratively further community welfare, and (6)
thereby (indirectly, and over the longer run) their own mutual
economic development. Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
Comments to Ask Bjørn Hansen at | Group listing | About