My company, Best Practical Solutions, just donated to the Perl Foundation's Perl Development Fund. We've never donated directly to TPF before, but the firestorm around this year's perl grant proposals really bothered me.
There's a public perception that there's pretty good visibility into the Perl 6 development process. Based on this perception, "everybody knows" that parrot and Perl 6 are academic research projects that won't ever be completed...and even if they are, that they won't be useful for solving real world problems. I've been as guilty of it as the next guy. I've been frustrated that there seems to be a shadowy group of developers and designers who are being paid to operate in secret, producing what was supposed to be "the community's rewrite of perl."
I haven't been involved in the development of Perl 6 and parrot, though I know some of the folks involved in the projects socially. This much is obvious to me: most of what we know about what's going on with perl development is wrong.
As I read the rants about the Perl 6 development process on use.perl early this week, I was really quite upset, because while I didn't agree with how the trolls presented their rants, I could see myself raising the same issues. "You want another four hundred thousand dollars to make Perl 6 available? But I've already given you..." nothing. That's how much I'd donated to The Perl Foundation to help make Perl 6 happen. Well, that's fixable.
And then I read the grant proposal. The first thing I saw cheered me up immensely: the grant's funding is divided into 12 separate milestones. And, unlike previous "big" perl development grants, the grant is for _deliverables_, not just to support the developers while do their thing. Not everything was so rosy, though. "We get two paragraphs to describe each thirty-five thousand dollar commitment? I sure wish I could get my customers to agree to a spec that vague. I don't even understand what I'm really getting for these milestones. Will Perl 6 run on Mac OS X? Will it run on Solaris? Will it run on my mobile phone? What if it's not fast enough to run at all? Who decides if something even works?" And _that's_ about when I realized that I don't get to complain about Perl 6 unless I start doing something to fix the problems I see.
So I dropped a line to Allison Randal, the Perl 6 project manager, offering to help out. I'm going to be taking a stab at being the project's "junior project manager, in charge of communicating what's getting done and what's needs more work." So, in three months, if you can't tell where the perl6 development process is, I'm the one you should be pointing your finger at.
I'm putting my money on Perl 6. $5000 of it. And I'm going to make damn sure I get my money's worth by volunteering to help make the development process more transparent and accessible. Some incredibly talented people have spent the last five years setting the stage for what really will be a revolutionary reinvention of perl. It's time to step up and join them.