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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I'm at Scotland on Rails at the moment, and one of the talks yesterday was on changes in Rails 1.9. Rails 1.9 has pretty much lifted pointy blocks from Perl 6 and the muttering that was heard (including from the presenter) about this was astonishing. "Why does the arrow have to be in front of the parameters?" "Eww... why can't we get the new parameter declarations inside the block like the old form?"

    Why? Because Parsing is Hard. The new block form buys both Perl 6 and Ruby 1.9 massive benefits because the parser unambiguously knows when it's parsing a parameter list; if you try to retain something closer to the old syntax, you don't get the new functionality.

    Me, I'll take the 'infelicities' of the new syntax because named method parameters are far more important to me, I'll live with =$*IN because I want rules, thank you very much.

    And, you know what, I'll learn to love those very same infelicities in time - heck, I took ages to move to Perl 5 back in the day, and the only serious breaking change there was the need to backwhack @s in double quoted strings.
    • I'm as skeptical as anyone about new things, but when I looked back on the first non-trivial Perl 6 code I wrote and realized exactly how much code I didn't have to write and how clear it was, I was sold. I don't know how to spread that epiphany other than telling people to get over their initial fears and revulsions and write some code for themselves.

      • I'm glad people are speaking up about their likes and dislikes re this new syntax.
        After getting a degree in special relativity and waves on the surfaces of stars I can claim to have battled thru many a weird equation, but I don't see Perl syntax as falling into that category.
        I'm all in favour of Perl core writers changing the internals of the language in any way they see fit, but I just would have liked a few constructs to be internal-only changes...
        • Despite how unsympathetic I sound, I really am sympathetic. (Of course, once you have to assert that explicitly, you've already lost.) I'm not entirely looking forward to rewriting all of the code I depend on. Where I've done that already, I'm pleased with the results though.

          I really do believe that the syntax changes make sense in the context of the language as a whole. It's the little things that never really bothered me enough in Perl 5 for me to notice consciously; they're just not there with Perl