I applaud Michael Schwern’s announcement today that he will no longer be supporting Perl 5.5 in any of his modules. Toolchain modules like Test::More and ExtUtils::MakeMaker will be compatible with Perl 5.6.0, and others with 5.8.0. As Schwern puts it, “5.5 is effectively end-of-lifed.” And not a moment too soon, I believe. Perl 5.6.0 came out seven years ago, and 5.8.0 five.

Schwern’s breaking point was seeing the Perl Survey results that only 6% of respondents use Perl 5.5. Most of all, he points out:

Finally, I’m coming around to chromatic’s philosophy: why are we worried 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.

I applaud Schwern’s radical break from the past. No longer will he be “hamstrung from
using ‘new’ features of Perl,” as he puts it. This will allow him the freedom to do more great things as I fully expect he will.

Most of all, I’m glad that he just did it. No committee, no call for consensus, no poll of people to see what everyone thought. JFDI, baby, JFDI.

Who among us will be the first to write a module that takes advantage of Perl 5.10’s new features, urging us all forward, instead of mired in the mud of the past? I can’t wait to see it happen.