chromatic provides us with more insight into the Perl 6 process that's picking up steam. His original post ran here at oreillynet.com. I've edited it a bit to emphasize the goodies.
A running joke in the Perl 6 world is that we'll release a stable Perl 6.0.0
by Christmas. We just won't tell you which Christmas.
As many community-developed projects have noticed, long blocks of holidays
can be very productive for contributors. Both Parrot and Perl 6 on Parrot have made a
lot of visible progress in the past couple of weeks.
Jeff Horwitz took over the maintainership of mod_parrot
a while back and has steadily made progress. The new news is that he's writing
a user's guide. The older news is that mod_parrot supports languages built on
top of Parrot, including Perl 6 and Plumhead (PHP on Parrot).
make perl6 just works
In terms of code, I dusted off some proof of concept code that Jerry Gay and
I wrote several months ago, with advice from Nick Forrette, added one new
feature, and checked it in. The code is
pbc_to_exe and it allows
you to build an executable named
perl6 by typing
make perl6.exe on Windows) once you have the
Parrot source tree configured on your machine.
The initial proof of concept took about two afternoons to write up; I wrote
the first version in Perl 5 and then Jerry and I translated it to PIR (Parrot's
native programming language). Then it sat for a few months, until someone
convinced me that the progress we've made would be much more accessible if we
could provide an executable file named
perl6 with the compiler
linked in nicely. It took part of an afternoon to add the last missing piece
and put things in place. (For that, see downloading the Parrot source
code. Until the next stable Parrot release on 15 January, you need to
check out Parrot from source code.)
I'm proud of this little project in a sort of mortified way; it just writes
out a C file that wraps a tiny exectuable header around the PBC file and calls
a couple of functions in libparrot to run that code, much like the
parrot executable does (but without all of the latter's
command-line options). It may be the most useful code I've written in a while
More developers, and Debian packaging
The biggest surprise to me is that, besides myself and Jerry, Francois
Perrad, James Keenan, Patrick Michaud, Cosimo Streppone, Will Coleda, Curtis
Poe, Bernhard Schmalhofer, Jason Porritt, and Andy Dougherty have all worked on
this system in the past week. One small change -- one small feature
representing perhaps an ideal day's worth of work -- inspired so much
additional polish and evolution. That's not counting all of the other people
who might now download and play with Perl 6 on Parrot. (It gets better too.
Allison Randal and some of the other Parrot developers have resurrected the old
Debian packages for Parrot, so Debian and derivatives will likely be able to
install and run both Parrot and Perl 6 on Parrot after the next release.)
That's not the only interesting thing.
Parrot's new object system
The November and December 2007 Parrot releases were significant because each
one added a major new feature. Parrot 0.5.0 introduced the new object system
which we believe is capable of supporting all of Perl 6's OO features (and by
extension, just about every OO system available in dynamic languages, though
there's one design question remaining about the multi-dispatch system in CLOS).
Parrot 0.5.1 includes the new Parrot Compiler Tools, which allow you to build
compilers using, more or less, Perl 6.
LOLCODE in Parrot
Though most of my work in Parrot is fixing weird bugs and adding new
features to the platform itself, it's been fun and a little scary to watch the
development of LOLCODE on
Parrot. Will Coleda started this on Wednesday, and the project has picked
up contributions from Simon Cozens, Jerry Gay, Patrick Michaud, Klaas-Jan Stol,
Bernhard Schmalhofer, James Keenan, and Stephen Weeks.
I know that you know that LOLCODE is a joke language, and I know that Simon
Cozens is a smart guy who worked on Parrot several years ago and then retired
from programming, but he wrote up his experiences in Parrot is really quite
How to build a Parrot compiler
Patrick and I gave a talk at OSCON last year about building a Parrot
compiler, and I repeatedly said that our goal is to make it possible for you to
build a working compiler in an afternoon. You won't build a language as rich
and powerful as Perl, Python, or Lua in an afternoon, but we hope to get all of
the boilerplate out of the way in the first thirty seconds so you can spend
four hours adding just the features you want. (The frosting part of this
dessert is that you can bundle up your compiler into a cross-platform C program
you can distribute as source code to compile and run on any machine which has
I think we're starting to succeed.
Parrot New Contributor Day
The next Parrot New Contributor Day is Saturday, 12 January 2008. Please
join us in #parrot on irc.perl.org then or any time.
chromatic is an editor and technical evangelist at O'Reilly Media and has
contributed to Perl 1, Perl 5, Perl 6 and Parrot.