Perl 6 scares me.
What is Perl? Well, Perl is many things, not the least of which, at least in regard to the people on this site and others, is a community. And Perl 6, frankly, threatens that community.
I see all of this cool code that I and other people make, share, and use. When Perl 6 is out, how will this continue? I have no plans to use Perl 6, and I am not alone. And many people will use Perl 6 for all new projects.
Bottom line: what's going to happen to the community? It will fracture, but along what lines? Will use.perl.org grow into factions?
There are some existing examples that might be instructive. First, closest to me right now, is the split between Mac OS and Mac OS X. I still use Mac OS primarily (although at the moment I am in Mac OS X, using fink to compile bunches of thingys). In #macdev, few people discuss Mac OS anymore. Most of my Mac friends use Mac OS X exclusively now, and as a result, we have far less to talk about with each other. And as noted in a previous entry, my kind is a second-class citizen to Apple. Certainly Perl 5 is not going to be deprecated any time soon as Mac OS is being, but what about comp.lang.perl.misc? PerlMonks? perl5-porters? Will cries of "upgrade to Perl 6" become the average response to problems in Perl 5?* Will O'Reilly or Yet Another Society slowly -- or quickly -- phase out Perl 5 talks and sessions in favor of Perl 6?
There are other examples, of course. But all of them point to the same result: a fractured community. Will I cease to use Simon's code since it is all in Perl 6? Will I bother to read gnat's journal because it is mostly about what he is doing with Perl 6 books and conferences?
I don't want to tell people not to use Perl 6. But I fear losing those who migrate to it.
I don't want any of this to happen. But it will. The question is not whether or not the community will fracture, but what the final result will mean for the community as a whole and the respective pieces. Certainly, Perl is not a single community; PerlMonks is distinct from use.perl.org, comp.lang.perl.misc is distinct from #perl, perl5-porters is distinct from perl5-porters a few years ago. And we peacefully coexist. Perhaps the greatest damage to the community will be not on the macro level, but the micro level. Maybe the thing I fear the most is not the Death of the Perl Community, but the death of my involvement in it, as I currently know it, and further the death of Perl 5 itself, which I have come to love, with no signs yet of any amicable feelings toward the new beast in development.
Only time will tell, I suppose.
[* I don't want this journal entry to be about the specifics of Perl 5/6, but the effects the split between the two versions will have on the community; however, I think it is important to note that this happening will really cheese me. Perl 6 is not Perl 5, and there is no reason to expect anyone to "upgrade" to Perl 6 from Perl 5, as it will be no "upgrade" at all, but a migration to a new language. Flame me if you must, but Perl 6 is a completely different language, based on Perl 5. Some people compare Perl 5->6 as Perl 4->5. It's not. Perl 5 added quite a bit, but removed very little. Perl 6 is removing or completely changing a lot. I have no wish to use a completely different language. I have a wish to continue using what I like and what has worked well for me for many years.]