Slash Boxes
NOTE: use Perl; is on undef hiatus. You can read content, but you can't post it. More info will be forthcoming forthcomingly.

All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

use Perl Log In

Log In

[ Create a new account ]

pudge (1)

  (email not shown publicly)
AOL IM: Crimethnk (Add Buddy, Send Message)

I run this joint, see?

Journal of pudge (1)

Tuesday April 16, 2002
08:06 AM

Death of Perl

[ #4236 ]

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 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, 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.]

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
More | Login | Reply
Loading... please wait.
  • > perl5-porters is distinct from
    > perl5-porters a few years ago.
    > And we peacefully coexist.

    hmmm... time travel, right?

    p5p of yesteryear and contemporary p5p
    (and future p5p?) all get together for
    some fantastic fishing trips in the Upper
    Devonian (mid-to-late Paleozoic Era).

    Where can I get a ticket?

    (feeling a bit non-sequiter this morning)
  • Well, you've got some choices to make. You can embrace the change or you can fight it.

    Perl 6 is Perl 5, but more so. I'm not talking about the internals. I'm not talking about the syntax. It's the feeling of the language that's important, and the feeling of the community. As long the languages understand each other and work to develop common ground, everything should be fine.

    Perl 6 isn't a magic bullet, but what it is no more and no less another generation of Perl, community and all. Like the prod

    • Please, don't attempt to convince me that "Perl 6 is Perl 5, but more so." I am not buying it from Larry or Damian, and I am not buying it from you. :-)

      The point here is that I will continue to use Perl 5, that there are substantial numbers of people that will do likewise, that if Perl 6 becomes what Larry and Damian want it to be, that there will be significant fracture of the community, and that we should think about that. If we don't, then the fractures will be very bad for everyone.

      I am not talking
      • Now you can't seriously expect me to obey you and not try and convince you about something in a public forum can you ;-) Let me change the argument and try a different stance. Perl 6 is Perl ( but more so...) in one respect, and one respect, like the other language that you love so much, is crafted and has been been delivered into being by the Perl community.

        Okay, let me reiterate this point, being a little less glib about the whole thing.

        What makes Perl Perl? Wasn't that the origin

    • Perl 6 is Perl 5, but more so. I'm not talking about the internals. I'm not talking about the syntax. It's the feeling of the language that's important, and the feeling of the community.

      Let's see:

      sub foo {
          return 0 is true;

      I don't think that got the same feeling as Perl5. There are going to be lots of new idioms in Perl6 that don't have a reason to exist in Perl5. At the same time, these idioms are being added so that the magical behaviors we have come to expect from Perl will continu

      • sub foo {
            return 0 is true;

        Gah, that's nothing more than what all the punk kids are using to write:

        sub foo {
            return dualvar(0,"true");
        these days. In my day we had to rub two scalars together to get
        sub foo {
            return "0E0";
        and we thought ourselves lucky to have that
  • I think people are going to be slow to adopt Perl 6. I think most of us will keep using Perl 5 until we're forced to do otherwise because we're used to it.

    I don't pretend to think that just because I know Perl 5 I automatically will know most of Perl 6. I made that mistake already a long time ago with C & C++ - they have some basic similarities, but otherwise they're totally different languages. And guess what? I don't feel like learning yet another language.

    I've already got a handle on Ruby and

    • These days I don't tend to write Perl for work - mainly because I'm between engagements (and anyone willing to provide an endpoint will be happily received). So I do my Perl more or less exclusively for fun these days.

      I've been programming for a reasonable amount of time (around a decade or so) in various languages. One of my hobbies is learning new/different languages.

      I can program in Ruby and Python. Reasonably competently. Ditto for PHP, but I have to check the manual for the names of functions and met
        ---ict / Spoon
      • I don't see a need for the community to fragment too much. Eventually, Perl 5 will be as Perl 4 is now. Is that really too much of a bad thing?

        If Perl 5 will be as Perl 4 is -- meaning not used for anything except legacy code -- that means that a great many programmers will have moved on to other things that are not Perl. To expect that almost all the people who love Perl 5 will love Perl 6 is unreasonable, because they are too different from each other for that expectation to have any logical basis. So
        • Quite honestly, it didn't look to me as if Perl 6 was all that different from Perl 5. For sure, it adds quite a number of things, but Perl 6 is supposed to be able to read Perl 5 code (otherwise we lose CPAN, and then I'd definitely worry). Given the latter point, why not upgrade to Perl 6 once it's stable? You'll still be able to use your beloved Perl 5. Over time, you might see a few things that you like in Perl 6, and start using it (the language, no the interpreter) as well. I think that the transiti


          -- Robin Berjon []

  • Why not wait until Perl6 is a reality to worry? There are *plenty* of people still using OS 9 though, for obvious reasons, development has mostly ceased on a dated platform. There are plenty of others things to worry about now :)

    • Well, I am not sitting in the corner wringing my hands in agnoy over it. But yes, I knew that people would say "wait and worry about it when it happens". But I feel that we should start thinking about it before it happens ... not necessarily doing anything about it, beyond thinking about it. If we wait too long to be aware of the issues involved with the fracturing of the community, I think it will be too late.
    • And I still use MacOS 8.6...

      Damn I need to upgrade my gf's iMac.
        ---ict / Spoon
      • And what's this "No Score +1 bonus" thingy?
          ---ict / Spoon
        • If you have enough karma, you can give your comment an extra point. You can turn it off by default in your comment preferences. If you get moderated down after giving yourself an extra point, then it is more damaging to your karma, or something.
          • Aw crap. I've been setting that for a few comments and such and those comments are probably going to get slaughtered by the mods. Thank goodness we have such lovely people here =)
              ---ict / Spoon
            • No, I think you are backwards. You want to check the box to NOT get the bonus.

              I strongly recommend everyone who has the bonus goes to comment prefs [] and checks "No Score +1 Bonus". It's only the default; you may deselect the checkbox on any given post to get the bonus.

              Further, while you're there, you can check out some other new options, like changing the size of your comment box, giving extra (or fewer) points to friends/foes or comments marked as interesting/insightful/whatever, etc.
  • What about all the backwards compatibility [] promised? Don't you think it might provide a nice, easy, unified slide into that good night?

    You are what you think.
    • Again, this is not about technology, it is about community. If I can run my Perl 5 under Perl 6's interpreter, fine, but I am still writing Perl 5, and you are still writing Perl 6.
    • Promised, but I'm hedging my bets it will never arrive. Who is going to do this thankless task? Is Damian really going to do it all? When?
  • The Perl community today isn't what it was a year ago, or two years ago. New blood in, old blood retiring. The Perl community is changing, even without Perl 6.

    I think perl4-perl5 is one model for what will happen. There'll be a period of peaceful coexistence, then when nobody wants to maintain the earlier version and answers to bug reports start being "upgrade", and one by one the hangouts move to the new system and become as familiar with it as they were with the old.

    I doubt anybody will look down t

  • Remember when the "death of COBOL" was regularly announced? Of course it never happened as there was so much code running production workloads (and there still is). What did seem to happen though was that COBOL programmers were marginalised - as it was no longer seen as interesting/relevant to newer coders - even with attempts to keep the language up to date.

    I don't know how much Perl 5 code is running production workloads - but I guess it is a huge amount and there will be no business drivers for upgradin