December 2007 Archives

Stop worrying and learn to love Perl 6


Andy Armstrong graciously provides his take on Perl 6. I've even left those crazy Brit spellings. -- Andy

Perl needs Perl 6 and the wider Perl community needs to understand why.

When I first got into computers I worried, briefly, that everything I learnt would inevitably be outmoded. I don't want to scare anyone unduly but there will come a time when Perl 5 is outdated. Slow, ugly, verbose, arbitrary: it will become all of those and worse.

That is the fate of all languages. At least I hope that's the fate of all current languages. These days if I really want to scare myself I need only imagine that the current state of the art is is a good as it ever gets. If that doesn't worry you try to imagine a parallel universe in which our understanding of computers hit a glass ceiling any time in the past fifty years. Imagine COBOL as pinnacle of language design, 64k as a generous helping of memory, punched cards baby! Happy days, certainly, but I'm glad we were able to leave them behind.

As more of the world depends on computers there's a growing force that slows change. The enemy of evolution in language design is the installed user base. In the case of a successful language like Perl millions of people may now be affected by an incompatible language change. The Perl 5 Porters must always balance the needs of the future with those of the past and that places an upper limit of the rate at which Perl 5 can mutate.

What to do? How do you move forward if you're constantly looking over your shoulder? You take advantage of a fortunate property of software: that it is possible to simultaneously care for and conservatively develop the current active branch of a language and forge into the future with a clean new version. Two siblings: the elder healthy, but constrained by responsibilities, the younger relatively free and able to learn from the elder's mistakes without repeating them. Perl 5 and Perl 6.

"But Perl 6 is taking too long..."

But Perl 6 is taking too long to mature. More than seven years is embarrassing, right? Not really. Perl wasn't really the Perl we know and love until Perl 5. For the first ten or so years Perl was a lesser language. Sure, the step from Perl 5 to Perl 6 will be bigger than the step from 4 to 5. The jump from 4 to 5 was in its time the biggest seismic shift the Perl world had seen. There's a trend there; the steps are getting bigger all the time. There was no significant dynamic language movement when Perl 1 entered the world. Perl 6 is gestating in a rather different environment.

Perl 5 is not yet decrepit. Rumours of its death greatly exaggerated (or imagined). Perl 6 doesn't yet need to come of age so it makes sense for it to continue to mature in a relatively protected environment. As long as Perl 5 remains viable it's sensible to give Perl 6 the space it needs to grow because when its time comes it's going to face stiff competition from its elder and from Ruby, Python and others.

Rather than impatient foot tapping, Perl 6 needs the help and nurture of the Perl community. The Perl 6 development process is transparent and open. Anyone with something useful to contribute will be welcomed. If you self-identify as a Perl person then Perl 6 is in part your responsibility. And if you can't usefully contribute then, please, quietly reflect on the debt of gratitude you owe to those who do. They're working to guarantee your future.

Perl 6 is not a liability

Perl 6 is not a liability. There's no need to be defensive about it. Paul Cory would like to rebrand Perl 6 into the shadows. That's the kind of Stalinist revisionism favoured by corporations that realise that their "next big thing" has become an embarrassing albatross. It's a response to Perl 6 that the circumstances do not require.

Here are his reasons:

1) It emphasises the "inadequacies" of Perl 5.

All languages have inadequacies, imperfections, miss-features, cruft. Perl 5 is no different. Fortunately, instead of brushing them under the rug, the Perl 6 team is actively seeking to right those wrongs. A question: would you rather use a language that's maintained by people who are a) in denial about its inadequacies or b) actively developing a new language based on recognised shortcomings? I hope that's a rhetorical question.

2) It makes the development community look unorganized, at best. People comparing at the development pace of Python, Ruby and PHP to Perl 6 are likely to come to harsher conclusions about the community's focus, viability and competence, based on Perl 6's seven-year, and counting, gestation period.

Those hypothetical people are wrong and I don't want to be part of a community that panders to their views. The Perl 5 Porters are doing a great job of continuously improving Perl 5 within the constraints that popularity brings. The Perl 6 team are laying the foundations for the next generation of Perl. Perl 5 and Perl 6 have a mutually beneficial relationship: features, tools and ideas are traded freely between the two groups. It's healthy, responsible and creative.

Python and Ruby have, to their credit, somewhat similar splits between far sighted strategic development and tactical improvements to the current language generation. PHP is a bizarre bazaar that does not provide a model other language communities should emulate.

3) It creates uncertainty: what happens to Perl 5 when Perl 6 finally drops? How much new stuff will I have to learn? How will my existing code work, or not, if I upgrade? Why should I invest time in Perl 5 if Perl 6 is just around the corner, and will be far superior?

Learning to deal with an uncertain future comes with the territory of computing. Continual improvement necessarily means that things will change.

Perl 6 is visible proof that we have vision. Perl 5 is visible proof that we can maintain an extremely high quality programming language. These facts combined should give observers confidence about the health of Perl. As a community we certainly need to work to allay fears and calibrate expectations. But let's not start by hiding one of our greatest assets, ok?

4) It creates frustration inside the community. Perl 6 has been "coming soon" for 7.5 years now. It's hard to remain excited about something that long with no payoff.

Welcome to the world of free software. Instead of waiting for Godot we can go and meet him half way; help him carry his load. Let's be explicit here: if Perl is part of your life or career and you're tired of waiting for Perl 6 help make it happen.

You don't have to contribute code to help. Learn more about Perl 6 so you can explain it to others. If you find it hard to learn make it easier for others: write an article that explains some of the important points, give talks, learn so you can teach.

5) The story is confusing: Pugs? Haskell? Parrot? Two development tracks? I thought this was about Perl? Yes, I have an idea of what those things are, but most folks outside the community (and a fair few inside, I'd wager) don't know, don't care, and shouldn't have to.

If the story is confusing we need to tell it more clearly. That doesn't justify changing the underlying technical narrative.

In a commodified world criticism and spending discretion are the consumer's only levers. We crave influence over the things we consume. In the absence of direct influence over a product's design we use criticism as a proxy for control. We hope that they'll make the next version better as a result.

Criticism is still valid in the free software world but it's importance is de-emphasised. You can criticise or you can help. In fact you can criticise and help.

It's important that Perl 6 is not immune from scrutiny but if you're frustrated that it's taking a while then volunteer. The Perl 6 team is small at the moment; small enough that a few well placed contributions can make a real difference. Let's not default to bitching about it when we have the opportunity of contributing to its success.

Why not make 2008 the year you do something for Perl 6?

Andy Armstrong has been developing Perl programs and following the language's progress since Perl 4.036. He has released more than thirty CPAN modules and is currently working to help both the Perl 5 and the Perl 6 teams to implement parallelised execution of their test suites

One view of "here's what we've done" in Perl 6


Patrick Michaud provides us with this brief recap of Perl 6. Patrick and I are going to be working on the Perl 6 development dashboard in the next few days to try to get a "what's done" and "what's needed to release" story to tell. -- Andy

Andy Lester asked:

Is there any way we can say "Here's what we've done and here's what's left?" At least that's a story I can tell. At least that kind of leaves us with "See, you can see the shape of the house and the roof is on, and we're working on the wiring and the plumbing."

I probably can't tell the full story of "Here's what we've done", but I think I can give an outline for one. Apologies in advance for any factual errors or omissions here -- many parts of the "story" occurred before I became an active participant of Perl 6 development. Also, this shouldn't be taken as an official story of the Perl 6 community or development team, it's just my answer to the question that Andy posed.

First, we have a Perl 6 language specification, as given by the synopses. People who have looked and played with the language given by that specification seem to really like it. We can't say that the specification is complete or frozen, because as we work on implementing the language we're finding places where the spec needs improvement. Some people express that the answer is to freeze the specification so we can get at least one implementation working; I entirely disagree with that. It's important that we retain flexibility to continue to improve the specification in response to things learned from the implementation(s).

We have at least one substantial Perl 6 implementation, known as Pugs. In fact, it's the experience of writing and using Pugs that has prompted important changes to the language specification. Pugs is available from

There's is another implementation of Perl 6 being done for Parrot, called "perl6". Parrot is a virtual machine intended to support Perl 6 and other dynamic languages, such as Python, Ruby, PHP, and the like. Some people may feel that Parrot is an unnecessary distraction from Perl 6, but it's clear that Perl 6 will need some sort of virtual machine under it, just like Perl 5 has. Early in the Perl 6 development, the available virtual machine options were basically: reuse the Perl 5 VM somehow, try to use another VM, or build a new one. Early efforts at writing Perl 6 on top of Perl 5 didn't appear to be working out so well, thus when I started development in 2004 I was advised by the design team to start afresh with Parrot, and that's the approach that perl6 has taken.

Having a virtual machine isn't sufficient -- we also need tools for building programs for that virtual machine. For a couple of years we've had a grammar engine to build parsers in Parrot, and that seems to be working well. Within the past few months we've also completed a code generator for abstract syntax trees (part of the "Parrot Compiler Toolkit") and a simple transformation language ("Not Quite Perl"). The completion of these tools appears to have boosted development speed on Parrot languages, including Perl 6, PHP, Python, etc., by at least an order of magnitude. The tools are also dramatically widening the scope of people who can productively participate in compiler development. We still need work on documentation and tutorials for the new tools so that we can increase the pace of development even further, and that's a primary focus for me at the moment.

We have an implementation of Perl 6 on Parrot called "perl6". There has been an implementation of Perl 6 on Parrot for over a year now, but progress on it had stalled because we needed improvements to Parrot and to the compiler tools. As of mid-December those improvements are now complete, and within the past two weeks the perl6 compiler has been completely rewritten to make use of the new Parrot compiler tools. Even though the new implementation is only a couple of weeks old, we already see huge gains in the quality and extensibility of the compiler, and in the ability for others to participate in its development. Because the current implementation is so new, I'm reluctant to hazard a guess as to an anticipated pace of development going forward, other than to say it should be much faster than what has been. I do tend to think that we'll be reaching the "workable implementation" stage in a matter of weeks instead of months or years.

Lastly, there is a substantial suite of tests written for Perl 6 language features, currently held in the Pugs repository. These tests are about to undergo substantial review and revision for correctness, completeness, and cross-compatibility among the implementations that are in various stages of development.

Looking to the future

Looking to the future and what I expect to see happen in January 2008:

  • some sort of working (perhaps primitive) perl6 installation where a person can download a tarball, build perl6, and type something like "perl6" to execute a Perl 6 program.
  • documents and publications describing the architecture of the perl6 compiler and how the various Parrot compiler tools fit together
  • substantial progress on reorganization and development of the official test suite
  • implementation of more Perl 6 language features

As for me, my primary focus has always been on getting a working Perl 6 implementation on Parrot. To me, Perl 6 is not just an interesting research project -- it has a clear deliverable. If we complete a usable implementation of Perl 6, we succeed; if we don't, we fail. It's that straightforward to me.

However, it's also important to have Perl 6 in a reasonable timeframe, and I agree with others that we're certainly pushing our luck there. Many people say that the long development time for Perl 6 has caused it to miss its window of opportunity. Time will tell if this is true, but personally I don't think this will be the case. Yes, Perl 6 has taken far longer than any of us imagined, but Perl 6 and Parrot are also poised to do things that many of us hadn't even dreamed about when we first started. And that's what keeps me working on Perl 6 even when it seems to be taking so long to get to the goal. I find Perl 6 to be such a profound and fundamental improvement in programming that I think the extra time we're all spending at the front end will have an impact and reap rewards measured in terms of decades. So while the delays are hard to take, the end result is worth it to me.

Patrick Michaud is the pumpking for the Perl 6 compiler. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and was formerly a Professor of Computer Science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He is currently a software developer and consultant focused on open source development and applications, including Perl, PmWiki, and Linux.

Why Perl 6 needs to be deemphasized and renamed


Paul Cory has contributed what I hope is the first of many guest editorials on Perlbuzz. -- Andy

Recently, Andy Lester wrote about the zombie question that haunts Perl: Where is Perl 6? One of the questions he posed was:

"And to everyone else, who is willing to help in this task, to help keep the fires of anticipation burning in the public?"

My advice would be to not keep the fires of anticipation burning in the public. For the good of the language, Perl 6 needs to be deemphasized in public, and, in addition, renamed.

How Keeping Perl 6 Front-of-Mind Hurts

1) It emphasizes the "inadequacies" of Perl 5.

2) It makes the development community look unorganized, at best. People comparing at the development pace of Python, Ruby and PHP to Perl 6 are likely to come to harsher conclusions about the community's focus, viability and competence, based on Perl 6's seven-year, and counting, gestation period.

3) It creates uncertainty: what happens to Perl 5 when Perl 6 finally drops? How much new stuff will I have to learn? How will my existing code work, or not, if I upgrade? Why should I invest time in Perl 5 if Perl 6 is just around the corner, and will be far superior?

4) It creates frustration inside the community. Perl 6 has been "coming soon" for 7.5 years now. It's hard to remain excited about something that long with no payoff.

5) The story is confusing: Pugs? Haskell? Parrot? Two development tracks? I thought this was about Perl? Yes, I have an idea of what those things are, but most folks outside the community (and a fair few inside, I'd wager) don't know, don't care, and shouldn't have to.

Basically, the more we push Perl 6, the more we Osborne ourselves.

How Keeping Perl 6 Front of Mind Helps

I got nothing. Honestly, I can't think of a single positive for trying to keep public anticipation burning.

How Deemphasizing Perl 6/Changing its Name Helps

1) Allows us to focus on the strengths and successes of Perl 5.

2) Allows us to tell the development and improvement success story of Perl 5, which is as good as that of any other scripting language.

3) Removes uncertainty that can be used against Perl when companies and developers make decisions about which language to use.

4) Finally, by changing Perl 6's name, to something like PerlNG or PerlFG, we can get away from the "It's just a 1 point upgrade," problem and have a basis for which to talk about it as a "research project." That allows us to both avoid talking about delivery dates, and allows to talk about how cool stuff from PerlNG is finding its way back into Perl 5.

5) Gets us away from all the negatives listed above.

How Deemphasizing Perl 6/Changing its Name Hurts

1) It might be harder to get folks to work on PerlNG if it's not "just around the corner." I happen to think that can be overcome with inside-the-community marketing.

For the record, I greatly appreciate all the work that folks have put into Perl 5 and Perl 6. Nothing here should be taken as a criticism of how the actual development gets done, nor of the talent or the commitment of the developers.

I don't question the desirability of Perl 6 either. I can see how, when it's finally finished, it will be an improvement over any language available.

However, from a Communications standpoint, it's obvious that there are significant problems in communicating about perl to the world at large. Perl 6 has been a Public Relations disaster, one that has made it harder to attract developers, other contributors, users and companies.

Again, from a Communications/PR standpoint, our goal should be to stop shooting ourselves. And that means taking the public focus off Perl 6 as much as possible.

Paul Cory is the Webmaster for the Wake County Public School System in Raleigh, North Carolina. He started using Perl nine years ago to automate some particularly tedious Website updates, and has progressed to the point where Perl glues the entire system website together.

Where is Perl 6? The question that won't die


Every so often I get asked that dreaded question "When is Perl 6 coming out?" Sometimes it's a local Perl Mongers meeting, and sometimes it's an email like below, from a reporter at, in response to my Perl 5.10 announcement:

What's up with Perl 6/Parrot? I've never covered the issue terribly closely, but it seemed that there was one school of thought that argued for some universal virtual machine and another that wanted to keep Perl more with its duct-tape-of-the-Internet roots. Please feel free to set me straight in this area--I have only passing familiarity.

Is Perl going to stay on a dual 5.x and 6.x track? When is 6 due? How about 5.12?

Stephen Shankland
reporter, CNET

This is not at all uncommon as a perception. People just don't know about Perl 6, don't know about Parrot, and certainly have never heard of Pugs. Here's what I replied:

Perl 6 is a rewrite of the Perl language. It will feel Perly, and yet become more modern as it pulls in influences from languages like Ruby and Haskell.

Technically, Perl 6 is just a language specification, and there are at least two implementations underway. One of the Perl 6 implementations is named Pugs, and is written in Haskell, on a project led by Audrey Tang. The other Perl 6 implementation is being written to run on top of Parrot. Parrot is a virtual machine for running modern dynamic languages like Perl, PHP and Ruby, among others. The intent is to have Parrot bytecode generated by one system, say, Perl 6, easily interact with any other language's Parrot bytecode.

Yes, Perl 5 and Perl 6 will stay in dual development. Perl 5 has such a huge installed base, it won't be going away any time soon after Perl 6 exists.

There is no due date on Perl 6, and never has been. At this point it's still sort of a big research project. Fortunately, some of the development in Perl 6 has found its way into Perl 5.10, such as the "say" keyword and some regular expression improvements.

I don't think the Perl 5 Porters have even started thinking about a timeline or feature set for 5.12 yet, since 5.10 has only been out for eight days now. From my monitoring of the perl5-porters list, we're just trying to make sure that problems people are reporting with 5.10 are not actually problems with 5.10 itself.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

I've published this open response for two reasons. First, I wanted the core Perl community to get an idea of what outside perception of us is like. People know bits and pieces of what we here in the Perl core echo chamber know.

Second, I wanted to raise the flag again of how outsiders want to know more about Perl 6, and that the first, and in many cases only, thing that they want to know is "Where is it and when will it be out." I've never felt that the Perl 6 development team has ever been interested in addressing the concerns of those who ask.

Note that I'm not talking about giving a timeline, or a schedule, because of course Perl 6 is being created by volunteers, and there's no point in giving a schedule if the project can't realistically hit it. What I did say was "address the concerns." Maybe the project can't give the people want they want, but is there something they can give to help satisfy the hunger, and keep people interested?

For that matter, I've never felt that anyone on the Perl 6 development team even saw it as a reasonable question to ask. I've always seen the question answered with angry, defensive replies. Such a problem to have! People clamoring to use your project!

It's amazing to me that we have any goodwill left, any interest, that Perl 6 hasn't been written off as permanent vaporware. To the Perl 6 community, I ask, what can we as the rest of the community do to help keep people interested in Perl 6? Do you see that as a reasonable goal? And to everyone else, who is willing to help in this task, to help keep the fires of anticipation burning in the public?

What people are saying about Perl 5.10


Here's a collection of articles about the release of Perl 5.10.

First, since I'm still wearing the PR hat for the Perl Foundation, I mailed off notifications to many different big news sources. Both Dr. Dobbs Journal and Infoworld published articles about the release. Alas, the Infoworld article has some inaccuracies, but I'm glad to have Perl's name on such a widely-read site.

macnn, a big Mac news site, has good coverage of ActivePerl's release of both Perl 5.10 and ActiveTcl.

Kai 'Oswald' Seidler at declares "we didn't update Perl because the new 5.10.0 seems to be a development version, and in XAMPP we only support 'stable' versions." Apparently XAMPP is an all-in-one bundle of web tools that you can slap onto your machine. If anyone has more info on Seidler's perceptions of 5.10 as being a development version, which it most certainly isn't, I'd be interested. has a nice write-up and summary. I wonder how many Linux devices Perl lives in.

HiveMinds Magazine mentions Perl 5.10, and then asks about Perl 6. "I just wish someone would write some insider info on Perl 6 before the new year," says author ahamilton. Hey, I'm working on it. (Also interesting that it's HiveMinds magazine, similar to Hiveminder, a web application run by Jesse Vincent, the Perl 6 project manager.)

The announcement at spawned a 20+ message thread about Perl's continued relevance and where Perl 6 is. Thanks to Juerd for fighting some FUD.

That's the roundup of Perl 5.10 postings that I've seen so far. One downside of releasing Perl 5.10 a week before Christmas is that people are interested in other things than talking about programming. I'm hoping news outlets notice the articles I've sent after the holiday break. Please let me know about other Perl 5.10 postings you may find.

Updated distribution meta-information available at

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Graham Barr has put out some new features on, both related to the META.yml file that comes with most distributions. The META.yml provides information in an easy-to-handle format on things like the author, version, license, what modules a distribution requires, and so on.

First, a few weeks ago, Graham added the ability to specify project home pages, source code repositories and alternate bug queues via the META.yml file. Now, if you go look at ack's page on, you'll see that there are links for all of those. Note that the bug queue would normally point to, but since I'm using the Google Code issue tracker for ack, I need to point users to it.

Second, today Michael Schwern worked with Graham to make the META.yml more accessible by creating a JSON format, and to create META.yml files on-the-fly for distributions that don't ship with one. JSON is a very common format for structured information distribution, so JSON support at will make it easy for applications that may not know YAML to work with CPAN meta-information.

Thanks to Graham for some important updates to the site that is effectively the face of CPAN, and for his work on what is often a thankless job.

Strawberry Perl 5.10.0 now available


Adam Kennedy has released his Strawberry Perl for Perl 5.10.0. Strawberry Perl is the Windows Perl distribution that's an alternative to ActiveState's distribution, and it includes tools for building CPAN modules natively, so you're not tied to ActiveState's PPM repository, which may not include the module you want to install, or may be behind a few versions.

Reminiscences of Perl

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chromatic is looking for stories of Perl over the last 20 years

As you may know, Perl is now 20 years old. In lieu of buying her a beer and waiting around for a year, I'm looking for interesting stories and memories to collect and post on a Perl-related website with a very nice and short domain name in the next couple of days. Please send them to, along with a one sentence biography.

I don't have any that come to mind, but I do remember getting turned on to Awk and its associative arrays, now called hashes in Perl. To a C programmer in the late 80s, the ability to index an array BY A STRING blew my mind.

Perl birthday parties across North America

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Richard Dice writes to tell:

The Toronto Perl Mongers meet monthly for a combined technical and social meeting -- except in December, when the meeting is purely social. To celebrate the 20th birthday of Perl we scheduled our December 2007 meeting for the 18th. Richard Dice brought a special cake. (It was chocolate, not onion-flavoured as some people feared.) Rough 20 Mongers came out to the event. Fun - and cake! - was had by all. We hope Mongers world-wide enjoy some of the photos taken of the event.

And on the other side of North America, Andy Sweger writes about the Seattle Perl Mongers' celebration:

At the regular monthly SPUG meeting on December 18th, 2007, we had a little celebration for Perl's 20th birthday which just happened to be on the same day. We had a lovely cake and we sang happy birthday to Perl for Larry. (Don't mind the bit about Perl 6, Larry. That guy just had too much cake.)

Perl 5.10 now available


Today the Perl Foundation announces the release of Perl 5.10, the first major upgrade to the wildly popular dynamic programming language in over five years. This latest version builds on the successful 5.8.x series by adding powerful new language features and improving the Perl interpreter itself. The Perl development team, called the Perl Porters, has taken features and inspiration from the ambitious Perl 6 project, as well as from chiefly academic languages and blended them with Perl's pragmatic view to practicality and usefulness.

Significant new language features

The most exciting change is the new smart match operator. It implements a new kind of comparison, the specifics of which are contextual based on the inputs to the operator. For example, to find if scalar $needle is in array @haystack, simply use the new ~~ operator:

  if ( $needle ~~ @haystack ) ...

The result is that all comparisons now just Do The Right Thing, a hallmark of Perl programming. Building on the smart-match operator, Perl finally gets a switch statement, and it goes far beyond the kind of traditional switch statement found in languages like C, C++ and Java.

Regular expressions are now far more powerful. Programmers can now use named captures in regular expressions, rather than counting parentheses for positional captures. Perl 5.10 also supports recursive patterns, making many useful constructs, especially in parsing, now possible. Even with these new features, the regular expression engine has been tweaked, tuned and sped up in many cases.

Other improvements include state variables that allow variables to persist between calls to subroutines; user defined pragmata that allow users to write modules to influence the way Perl behaves; a defined-or operator; field hashes for inside-out objects and better error messages.

Interpreter improvements

It's not just language changes. The Perl interpreter itself is faster with a smaller memory footprint, and has several UTF-8 and threading improvements. The Perl installation is now relocatable, a blessing for systems administrators and operating system packagers. The source code is more portable, and of course many small bugs have been fixed along the way. It all adds up to the best Perl yet.

For a list of all changes in Perl 5.10, see Perl 5.10's perldelta document included with the source distribution. For a gentler introduction of just the high points, the slides for Ricardo Signes' Perl 5.10 For People Who Aren't Totally Insane talk are well worth reading.

Don't think that the Perl Porters are resting on their laurels. As Rafael Garcia-Suarez, the release manager for Perl 5.10, said: "I would like to thank every one of the Perl Porters for their efforts. I hope we'll all be proud of what Perl is becoming, and ready to get back to the keyboard for 5.12."

Where to get Perl

Perl is a standard feature in almost every operating system today except Windows. Users who don't want to wait for their operating system vendor to release a package can dig into Perl 5.10 by downloading it from CPAN, the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network, at, or from the Perl home page at

Windows users can also take advantage of the power of Perl by compiling a source distribution from CPAN, or downloading one of two easily installed binary distributions. Strawberry Perl is a community-built binary distribution for Windows, and ActiveState's distribution is free but commercially-maintained.

Editor's notes

For questions, contact Perl Foundation Public Relations at

Perl is a dynamic programming language created by Larry Wall and first released in 1987. Perl borrows features from a variety of other languages including C, shell scripting (sh), AWK, sed and Lisp. It is distributed with practically every version of Unix available and runs on a huge number of platforms, as diverse as Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, z/OS, os400, QNX and Symbian.

Rafael Garcia-Suarez
Rafael Garcia-Suarez is a French software engineer who lives in Paris, France, and who is currently employed by He has been a contributor to Perl for many years and has stewarded the birth of Perl 5.10 for the last few.

The Perl Foundation
The Perl Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of the Perl programming language through open discussion, collaboration, design, and code. It is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in Holland, Michigan, USA in 2000.

This is a copy of the official announcement about Perl 5.10.

ActiveState provides Windows binaries of Perl 5.10.0

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ActiveState already has their Perl for Windows available for binary download. I'm sure Strawberry Perl won't be far behind.

Perl 5.10 and Parrot 0.5.1 are out

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Perl 5.10 is now available from CPAN, and Parrot 0.5.1 will be available soon. Details in forthcoming article.

It was twenty years ago today


Happy birthday, Perl!

It was 20 years ago today
Larry Wall taught some text to play
It's been going in & out of style
But it's stuck around for quite a while()
So may I introduce to you
The tool you've loved for all these years
Larry's Practical Extract & Report Laaaanguage

Perl 5.10 has been released today, as has Parrot 0.5.1. Perl 5.10 is a huge update, and you should look at it.

Michael Schwern points to baby pictures of our favorite language. He got Perl 1 working under modern compilers a few years back, and points to the current project and repository, now maintained by Richard Clamp.

Festivities around the Perl community abound. Perl Mongers in Chicago and Portland are getting together for dinner (and probably a little beer).

The plan was to have Perl 5.10 out today as part of the birthday celebration, but some last minute regex bugs seem to have put a wrench in that. Here's hoping it comes out soon.

It's Larry's Practical Extract Report Lang
5.10 got its bugs fixed
Larry's Practical Extract Report Lang
Don't ask for a date for version 6...

How are you celebrating? Post your links & stories here.

Tomorrow's a big day!


Tomorrow is a big day for our little language. Stay tuned for news.


Wanted: Dark Lord of Destruction

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Message Systems is looking for a Perl QA and stress-testing engineer, but they don't call it that. They're looking for a Dark Lord Of Destruction. I hope they accept applications for Dark Lady Of Destruction as well.

You DID know about, didn't you? It's a free job listing service for Perl-related jobs, plus, you can help support the Perl Foundation by buying featured placement on the front page for a few hundred dollars.

Ukrainian Perl Workshop 2008 calling for participation

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The Ukrainian Perl Workshop 2008 is set for February 23, 2008 in Kiev, and the organizers are looking for talks, especially talks in English. Even if you can't make it, check out the photos and story from the first Russian Perl Workshop, which was a big success.

Movable Type is now open source


Six Apart announced today that Movable Type is now open source. They say that MTOS has every feature in Movable Type 4.0, which I think is a change. It'll be interesting to see if/how this changes Movable Type's share in the blogging community, since WordPress has always been able to wave the open source flag. I also might go and take a look at the source, which I've never examined because I knew there was no reason to.

64-bit Macs may have CPAN build problems

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Mac OS X Leopard's Perl builds 32-bit Universal binaries by default, which may cause conflicts on 64-bit Macs with 64-bit apps like Apache 2.0. This article on Ars Technica gives the details, and the ARCHFLAGS fix.

Pudge on YouTube on TV on YouTube

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If you missed the opening of the Republican debate last week, you can watch a YouTube clip of broadcast TV of the eight candidates watching a YouTube clip of Chris Nandor singing his song about them.

If only he could have worked in a mention of Perl 5.10!

State of the Onion 2007: Let's go scripting


It makes me sad to hear Perl programming called "scripting". "Stop saying script" is a common refrain of mine. I gave a lightning talk about this at OSCON 2007, and a few hours later, Larry Wall, Perl's creator, gave his State Of The Onion in the same room, and reviewed my lightning talk like so:

_   /|
   U    ack --thpppt!

Well, if you're gonna get dissed, might as well be by Larry, right? To read why he disagrees with me, see his just-published transcription of the State Of The Onion. I agree with his points, and yet, my core concerns about "scripting" being seen as not really programming still stand. How to combine the two?

A couple of happy new Perl users


Ask Bjørn Hansen pointed me at a posting called Perl -- An Awesome Programming Language. I have to agree, of course, although some of his assertions could use some gentle re-education, such as "the only drawback with Perl is that it usually is not compiled, but interpreted. One disadvantage because of this is that the user cannot just type the name of your program to run it." Nonetheless, we're glad to have Matt Mik added to our fold.

My Google Alerts also turned up a user who was converted to Perl because of the ease with which he could use WWW::Mechanize as a web scraper. Does my heart good to know that he was reading Spidering Hacks, although it makes me feel a little old to have a book from 2003 talk about Mech.

Parrotwin32 project provides pre-built Windows executables for Parrot

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François Perrad has created the parrotwin32 project. He writes "This project supplies only binaries for Windows (setup.exe form) of the monthly releases. I hope that help Parrot end-users (on Windows) and promote the use of Parrot."

It's Christmas in Perl-land

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Every year at this time brings the Perl Advent Calendar, 24 days of great new modules for you to know about. But what's this? This year the Perl Advent Calendar seems to have trouble starting up. They're looking for submissions for this year's calendar, and since it's already December 3rd, get on it!

In the mean time, the Catalyst team have put out their own Catalyst Advent Calendar with 25 days of Catalyst tips. Catalyst is "the elegant MVC framework" and has quite a bit of traction. Their website is certainly better looking than your average Perl project website.

Finally, PHP guru and all-around swell guy Chris Shiflett is running his own advent calendar focusing on a different member of the PHP community, and tips and tricks from that person. It's really nicely done. I'm also coveting the formatting for his code blocks. I'll just add "steal code block CSS from Shiflett's site" to the extremely long to-do list.

BBC creates Perl On Rails

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The British Broadcasting Corporation has long used Perl, but:

For applications that run internally we use Ruby on Rails. Because we enjoy using it, it's fast to develop with, straight forward to use and because we use it (i.e. to reduce knowledge transfer and training requirements) we decided to follow the same design patterns and coding conventions used in Rails when we built our MVC framework. Yes that's right we've built Perl on Rails.

I know Curtis "Ovid" Poe is working for the BBC now, so here's hoping some of that Railsy goodness comes back to feed the community. The BBC already has 17 distributions on the CPAN.

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