Here in the US, it's Thanksgiving, a day of eating lots of food, watching football, and sometimes, just sometimes, expressing gratitude and giving thanks for those things that make life wonderful.
Here are the things I'm grateful for in late 2007, in no particular order after the first.
Google's project hosting service has been a godsend. It's changed the way I do open source projects. It has leapfrogged SourceForge for ease of maintenance, and the bug tracker trumps RT for CPAN that we've been using for so long. Add that to the integration with Google Groups which makes it trivial to create mailing lists, and it's at the tops of my list for 2007. I can't say enough good about it.
The readers of Perlbuzz
Eleven weeks ago, Skud and I started this little website called Perlbuzz as an alternative to the "more traditional outlets" for news in the Perl world. The response has been tremendous. We get 600 RSS readers every day, and have had over 10,000 unique visitors in that time. It makes me happy that our little venture is used and appreciated by the community.
It's been over a year in the making, but the new version of the crucial Test::Harness 3.0 means more flexibility for module authors, and lots of UI improvements for people who just want to run prove and make test.
MJD is so much a fixture in Perl it's easy to forget that he's there. For 2007, though, never mind all the things he's done for Perl in the past, or the hours I've spent being enthralled in talks of his. His Universe Of Discourse blog is the single most intelligent blog out there, and sometimes it just happens to be about Perl.
Was Andy Armstrong always around, or did I just not notice? His time and dedication spent on climbing on board with Ovid and Schwern and the rest of the Test::Harness 3.0 crew has been invaluable in getting it out. Plus, he's a really swell guy anyway.
When I finally despaired of the amount of time and frustration it took to organize content for Chicago.pm's Wheaton meetings, Dave Hoover stepped up and volunteered to take it over. I'm thankful, but not as much as I hope the other Chicago.pm folks are.
I'm all about having the machine keep an eye out for the stupid things we do, and the goodness of Perl::Critic is always impressive. You won't like everything Perl::Critic says about your code, but that's OK. It's an entire framework for enforcing good Perl coding practices.
The Perl Community in general
The Perl community is populated by some tremendous folks. Some names are more known than others, but these people help make daily Perl life better for me. In no particular order, I want to single out Pete Krawczyk, Kent Cowgill, Elliot Shank, Liz Cortell, Jason Crome, Yaakov Sloman, Michael Schwern, Andy Armstrong, Ricardo Signes, Julian Cash, Jim Thomason, chromatic, Chris Dolan, Adam Kennedy, Josh McAdams and of course Kirrily Robert. If you think you should be on this list, you're probably right, and I just forgot.
My wife, Amy Lester
Because even if she doesn't understand this part of my life, she at least understands its importance to me.
I'd love to hear back from any readers about what they're thankful for. I'm thinking about having a regular "Love Letters to Perl" column where people write about what they love in Perl.
Tim Bunce points me to this post about Perl being faster than Ruby in Tim Bray's Wide Finder code competition.
The Wide Finder is at heart an Apache log analysis tool to show commonly hit pages, but for purposes of this comparison, it's analyzing 971MB. Bray explains:
It's a classic example of the culture, born in Awk, perfected in Perl, of getting useful work done by combining regular expressions and hash tables. I want to figure out how to write an equivalent program that runs fast on modern CPUs with low clock rates but many cores; this is the Wide Finder project.
All the talk about Erlang and parallelism makes me want to get back to working through my copy of Programming Erlang. Oh tuits, come to me!
Rafaël Garcia-Suarez has put out the first release candidate for Perl 5.10.0. This will be the first new release of a production version of Perl in over 2½ years, so well worth taking a look at.
Again, for an introduction to the features in Perl 5.10's new features, see Ricardo Signes' slides for his talk Perl 5.10 For People Who Aren't Totally Insane.
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.
David Cantrell has come up with his CPAN dependencies and test results checker. It checks out all the dependencies for a distribution, and displays the installation results for each of the dependencies, as as reported by the CPAN testers. It's interesting to see the visual representation of all the modules' test histories, but the idea of multiplying all the "probabilities" of installation is specious.