Now that Rakudo Star is out, and people are able to easily install and work with an early implementation of Perl 6, the pundits and cranks have to put aside their tired Duke Nukem jokes and talk about how different Perl 6 is from Perl 5. They gripe that everything is different and scary, “it shouldn’t be called Perl any more.” I’m tired of it, and it makes no sense.
I bet none of those cranks remember Perl 4 and the shift to Perl 5.
* Perl 4 didn’t have lexical (my) variables
* and there were no scalar filehandles
* and you couldn’t pass filehandles as parameters to functions except with typeglobs
* and the package separator was ', not ::
* and really nobody used packages anyway
* and there was no object support whatsoever
* and that meant no modules to speak of
* and you couldn’t pass around regexes as scalars (qr// operator)
* and on and on.
Even with all those differences, we survived. In fact, we thrived.
The Pink Camel, first edition of *Programming Perl*, covering Perl 4, was only 450 small pages long, and a third of that was a section called “Real Perl Programs.” (Imagine! Actual programs!) The Blue Camel, the 2nd edition, covering Perl 5, was over 600 bigger pages.
You know what I thought when I got my copy of the Blue Camel? It wasn’t “Boy, this sure isn’t Perl any more.” No, I thought **”Holy shit, look at all the stuff I can do.”** I couldn’t even read the book straight through, because I kept skipping around, my mind amazed at the possibilities in front of me.
There are those who will read this and say “Yeah, but Perl 5 could still pretty much run any Perl 4 program, but Perl 6 won’t be able to run Perl 5.” And that’s true. And it’s irrelevant.
Perl 6 is still Perl, and is still called Perl, for many reasons, but only one that matters.
**Larry Wall says that Perl 6 is still Perl.**
Larry has his reasons. Some he’s mentioned in [past State of the Onion addresses]( Maybe you don’t agree with his reasons, or his decisions. But it doesn’t matter one damn bit what you think. It’s his decision. All arguments are a waste of time and brain cycles.
So when someone says “Perl 6 should have been named something else,” I suggest a response of “OK, whatever you say. Now, isn’t it cool that you can use list reduction to say my $sum = [+] @list;?”