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autrijus (1505)

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Journal of autrijus (1505)

Wednesday November 02, 2005
08:38 AM

Day 242: Fourth day at Liz's - meeting.

[ #27416 ]
(Gasp, pressed "Preview" last night and didn't hit "Submit"...)

Full journal instead of stubs tonight, as I'm in the car driving back to Echt, which gives me about two hours of journaling time.

This afternoon, after sketching out the PA02 draft with Wendy, we drove to Amsterdam for the Perl Monger's meeting. I could't do coding in the car, so I fell back t oreading PickAxe instead, finally finishing it (except the huge library reference parts) at the pre-meeting dinner at a nice Chinese restaurant.

I like the PickAxe book a lot. Its explanation of EigenClasses ("that something", in Matz's words) and MetaModel was excellent, and the ObjectSpace introspection API made a lot of sense too. However, the constant beating of the "better than Java" dead horse can get a bit tiring at times. :-)

Ruby's lack of container types also means it doesn't have the related set of Perlish ergonomic memes -- eg. sigils, autorefs, contexts, ties, inference, guards -- though that also makes it easier to reason about. However, seeing that Perl 6's dynamic semantics is basically "Ruby++", there's probably nothing precluding a Ruby frontend to Pugs/PIL. On the other hand, it may be easier to write a YARV->PIR translator.

The talks were reasonably successful, except I went massively overtime, finishing at almost midnight so people had to run to catch the last trains. Fortunately, by following suggestions from Wendy and Liz about slowing down the pace, the talk apparently worked better; the audience is visibly more receptive than it was at EuroOSCON. I still need to slow down a bit more, leave enough pause time for jokes, and cut most of the digressions, but all in all things seem to be improving.

The Pugs talk was received most warmly, so much so that I said I'd like to get a list of attendees and send a committer bit invitation to all of them. In particular, people seem to really like the idea of turning use pugs; into a CPAN module, that translates your inline Perl 6 code into Perl 5, preserving the original P6 code (but hide them from the Perl 5 parser), and insert the compiled Perl 5 code, with a SHA digest so those parts can be recompiled when the Perl 6 code changes. This technique resembles Acme::Bleach, and Inline::File, and has the effect of letting people write Perl 6 code that can be uploaded to CPAN to be used as pure-perl5 modules.

After the talk, Jouke asked whether Ponie will still be relevant, with Pugs targetting Perl 5 and Parrot simultaneously. The answer is a future-tense yes: the first generation of Perl 6 programs are going to be written with use perl5:DBI; in them, so they will run just fine when compiled to Perl 5. However, when Parrot proves to be a more reliable and efficient runtime for Perl 6, we will then want to compile those Perl 6 programs to Parrot. For Parrot to support use perl5:DBI, Ponie is absolutely neccessary. However, until we make the Perl5 and Parrot targetting robust enough, there would be little practical motivation to hack on Ponie,

Jouke also kindly offered his place to host me in my Erdosing next year; I'd like to work out declarative bindings that work both as GUIs and dynamic websites using the same piece of code, and Jouke's experience with OLE and WxWidgets would be helpful there.

The "Visual Basic Rocketh" talk was controversial as ever. It does feel strange to play advocate for a language with no free implementations, but I think the two main messages -- evolve or die and shared runtimes are good -- was received reasonably well, so I'm still glad I did the talk. I was also quite surprised that someone in the audience recognized the photo of Erik Meijer...

It was past 10am at that point, so I asked whether the mongers really want to hear the 45min "Learning Haskell" talk. Most people concurred, but I then made the mistake of going through every slides in my careful-explanation mode, so it took well over an hour. In retrospect, I should have dropped the nitty-gritty detail of technology demonstrations, and focus on getting the bare basics across instead.

Still, many interesting feedback ensued: Abigail caught a potential infinite loop bug in the partition-based qsort example, and I saw an "Aha" look on several people's face when I explained that print $ f x is the same as print (f x). I could also have went further and show that print . f $ g x is the same as print (f (g x)), but function composition would probably make the overtime even worse. The overall feeling is that this talk really should be turned into a 3-hour tutorial and splitted into two parts.

So, a very interesting (if a bit long) day, and a lot of fun. See you tomorrow!

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