Linked by Shlomi Fish on Sat 16th Oct 2004 07:28 UTC
General Development The purpose of this essay is to explain why I believe Perl 6, the way it currently seems to progress, is the wrong thing at the wrong time, and why I predict (with all the expected caveats of predicting something) that it won't be successful. I will also suggest a better alternative for the future of Perl which makes more sense at this point.
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ruminations
by WebDragon on Sat 16th Oct 2004 16:19 UTC

I've been working with Perl5 since May 2000. In fact, I started with Perl 5, and never had to make the transition from Perl 4, nor learn much about it. I spent much time lingering in nntp:comp.lang.perl.misc watching other people's questions and learning from the answers (and their mistakes) and viewing the aftermath of the changeover from Perl4 -> Perl5 but, importantly to my point, never had to make that transition myself in learning Perl 5. Thus, I had virtually nothing to unlearn.

(The more interesting transition for me, was from 'common programming' (c-style for loops, if-then-else, etc) to 'idiomatic perl', which lets you do the same or similar things in simpler and more flexible ways. A creative programmer can do some seriously cool things once this transition has been made, away from the traditional styles of getting there.)

There will almost certainly be people like myself, coming in late to the whole argument, and who think to themselves, "Well, this is where Perl is heading, so rather than load myself up with a ton of crufty practices, I'll start fresh here, and learn how to program with Perl6, and use the emulation layers (or simply perl5, which can be simultaneously installed) for any legacy scripts I need to communicate with.

It is unbelievable to me, the sheer levels of pure awfulness, that is the style of coding of Perl4 and cgi-lib.pl. And yet I still see these in use all the time in purportedly modernized things in common use today (such as Webmin, which I refused to install on my system once I saw the code in it's Perl4-styled "after two cups of coffee and a bran muffin and stuck in rush hour traffic sort of terror-inducing" cruft.)

I too have had a hard time understanding some of the Apocalypses, but for the most part the Exegesis that followed did a good job of exemplifying the cool and interesting things you can do with the new styling. Yes, I'd probably have a bit to unlearn, but not so much as those who have made the transition from Perl4 to Perl 5 (or still haven't, more to the point =:P ). Nor do I think that this inevitable growth and change in Perl is a bad thing. In fact, I can't wait for it.

I don't think all the recent rapid upgrades of Perl 5 (what are we at now, 5.8.5? wasn't 5.6.0 released not that long ago?) are a bad thing either, and may (in case no one has noticed) already be doing some things towards that coming transition.

I certainly don't want to wait another 10 years for a serious upgrade to Perl. Not if it means we'll be still dealing with Perl 4 and Perl 5 cruft from legacy apps for twice that long. It's bad enough that we have that problem NOW. Cut the ties, man, I can't wait to move forward.