By Paul Fenwick

Perl 5.8.9 is just around the corner. Incorporating over two and a half years of bugfixes and improvements, it will be the best release of Perl 5.8 ever. Unfortunately, we have a problem; right now there's no easy way for the average developer to know what's changed.

Every version of Perl ships with a perldelta file, which summarises all the important changes into a single document for anyone who wants to know what's new. This document needs to be written before 5.8.9 can ship, and it's a big task. Luckily, it's also a task that can be distributed, and we need your help.

The work has been split into individual months of changelog that need to be summarised. You can volunteer for as little or as much work as you like. Even if you don't know much about Perl's internals, you can volunteer for a "light" approach where you summarise easy and obvious changes, like upgraded modules, or easily-understood bugfixes.

Contributing the perl589delta directly helps with the release of Perl 5.8.9. However you'll also get a mention in the prestigious Perl authors file, kudos on ohloh, and enough material to write a "What's new in 5.8.9" lightning talk that will make you a star at conferences and user-groups.

To get started, join the mailing list. If you're happy to dive into work right away, and we hope that you are, then follow the instructions in the README at the bottom of our source control page.

Don't worry if you don't think you can handle a whole month of changes at once. Don't worry if you don't know your way around the Perl guts. If you want to start small, you can use the micro helpers HOWTO which describes how you can contribute with a minimum of fuss.

Even if you're not sure how to help, we'd still love to see you in the group; there's plenty of things that need doing. With your help, we can make Perl 5.8.9 a reality!

Paul Fenwick is the managing director of Perl Training Australia. He is the author of Perl's new autodie pragma, an internationally recognised conference speaker, and author of many editions of Perl Tips. His interests include coffee, mycology, scuba diving, applied statistics, and lexically scoped user pragmata.