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mattw (9377)

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  Comment: Re:Perl 6 is dead. Long live Perl Trek! (Score 1) on 2009.08.20 3:57

by mattw on 2009.08.20 3:57 (#70195)
Attached to: "Perl 6 'finished'" isn't the story I want to tell
Virtually nothing new has gone into the Perl 6 spec for a long time. The big new stuff came along at the beginning - the time involved reflects just how big and new a lot of these things are, and how difficult it is to get everything into a coherent sort of whole. This is not navel-gazing or ADD or being distracted by shiny things. The shiny things are here, they're in the spec, many of them are in the code. Many of them have rough edges and we're still trying to get them to fit together into a nice pattern to create a language which will be pleasing to use and powerful to go with it.

Writing a programming language is an extremely difficult sort of task. You can never be entirely sure if something works well until you see people using it, but in order to see people using it you need to get an implementation which supports your current thinking so that they can try it out. Often, in implementing parts of Perl 6, the developers of Pugs or Rakudo or any of the other implementations bubbling away have come across bits of spec which make no sense, or are absurdly difficult to implement for no real benefit, or turn out to be Just Plain Stupid. This feeds back to the spec, and so the spec has to be adjusted, rethought and polished into a new form which the implementors then take and the cycle begins anew.

Added to this are the users, the people who are writing Perl 6 today, who keep up with spec changes (there's a lot of interest around various distinctly unfinished areas at the moment) and offer their own suggestions and ideas.

This is a new kind of area for Perl. Perl 5 is an implementation - Perl 6 is a spec. Perl 6 is the Perl which opened its doors to the community and said 'what do you want'. It's a fundamental rethink of the language from the ground up. It's the first time Perl has completely broken backward source-level compatibility. It's still, even after its long development period, one of the most advanced programming languages in the world.

It is, in short, incredibly cool. It's still what was promised when the whole process started - it's just taking a little longer than expected (remember that virtually all of the development work on the spec and the implementations has been voluntary - there are grants being paid to people working on Rakudo, but that's a fairly recent development although it's taken us a long, long way). Rakudo Star is the first time an implementation and the spec have been in a state where anybody can say 'here is some of Perl 6. Have fun with it' and know that people will be able to take it and use it and do useful things with it. It's a huge milestone for Perl 6, and I think it's going to lead us into an exciting future.

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