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The Perl Foundation Wants to Hear From You

by Ovid (Cardinal)
on Dec 06, 2005 at 18:01 UTC ( #514575=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

In response to the poll All I want for Christmas is: I wrote:

What I really want for Christmas is for Perl programmers to check out the Perl Foundation Blog and tell us what they really want out of the Perl Foundation. Dynamic languages are really coming into their own and I don't want the Perl community to miss out on this wonderful opportunity.

petdance (the TPF PR guy) put together a press release that excellently summarized what TPF is trying to do. I want to follow up on that and reinforce what's going on.

Many people have wanted more information about the Perl Foundation and what it does. Our purpose as stated on the Perl Foundation Web site is simply to [further] the advancement of the Perl programming language through open discussion, collaboration, design, and code.

However, the exact specifics of that should be dictated by the Perl community. TPF does not attempt to dictate. Instead, we want to know what you want and need so we can help make this happen. We get a lot of work done but our work has largely been a mystery to people. The goal of the blog is for you to have a much easier way to say what you want and provide feedback. More importantly, the blog allows others to see your feedback and comment on this and extend it.

Prior to the blog, you might stumble over posts on use.perl, Perlmonks, pages on the TPF web site or random email messages. Now we have a centralized place for you to look for information. Please check out the blog and see what we have to say and contribute your own ideas. We look forward to hearing from you.


New address of my CGI Course.

  • Comment on The Perl Foundation Wants to Hear From You

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Re: The Perl Foundation Wants to Hear From You
by thor (Priest) on Dec 06, 2005 at 20:26 UTC
    Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing some news about this Perl 6 I've been hearing so much about. I haven't seen an update to the "This week in Perl 6" here since October (though feel free to tell me if I'm not looking hard enough or if I'm looking in the wrong place). Also, I wouldn't mind such summaries being more high level. I don't follow the goings on of the Perl 6 community, so many of the comments in those posts are lost on me. A short list of "here's what we've worked on, we've got this much to go" would be appreciated by at least by this monk. :)


    The only easy day was yesterday pulls in "This week in Perl 6" from Atom feeds provided by the summarizers. Unfortunately, our feed parser needs a bit of maintenance and we're down at least one programmer and a project manager, so fixing it keeps giving way to higher priorities.

        I understand. Is there any reason why O'Reilly can't just point to the site where the summaries are held in the interim? Because I was relying on for those updates, I thought that development had stalled. Maybe I'm ignorant and in the minority here, but having news and then not implies that there's no news to be had for me.


        The only easy day was yesterday

      Given that Perl6 will ultimately be implemented on top of Parrot, you might find this this TPF blog post of interest. That summarizes what we're doing with Parrot and where we're going from here. It also explains a bit about the Parrot development process. Admittedly, it's not the same thing as Perl 6 development, but it's a start. Post your comment to the blog so others there can see it.


      New address of my CGI Course.

      If you subscribe to the perl6-announce at perl dot org list, you'll get the summaries (plus the occasional Pugs or Parrot release announcement).
Re: The Perl Foundation Wants to Hear From You
by tirwhan (Abbot) on Dec 07, 2005 at 11:27 UTC

    I would like to make a suggestion as to something TPF could do for the Perl community. (Please let me know if you think I should post this elsewhere, it didn't seem appropriate to post it as a comment on the foundation blog).

    Based in part on bits of an ongoing thread here on PM, I think we could do with some clarification regarding the legal and ethical requirements for reusing CPAN and Perl resources in commercial environments. Could TPF maybe get together with a lawyer (from the EFF?) and put together a document which gives answers to the following questions in a non-legalese language (i.e. understandable by a programmer who is not generally interested in legal matters):

    1. Can I copy a piece of code from a CPAN module and integrate it into my own or my companies code without copyright attribution to the module author?
    2. If the answer to 1. depends on the volume of code I copy, how much can I copy before copyright attribution becomes necessary?
    3. Can I use CPAN modules (or parts thereof) in a commercial and closed code-base? Do I have any obligations towards the author in that case? What are these obligations?
    4. What is the status of CPAN modules which do not include a license file/statement? Are these implicitly under a certain license? Do I need to treat these modules any differently than I would modules which contain a license file?
    5. What constitutes a copyrightable piece of Perl code? Is a popular technique like the Schwartzian Transform copyrightable?
    6. What difference regarding above questions does it make whether the module is licensed under the GPL or Perl Artistic License?

    These are just questions that arose from that thread and seem to not have a clear and unambiguous answer by an authoritative source. If this proposal were accepted it would probably be a good idea to ask the Perl community what questions they have.

    The purpose of this proposal is not to create further rules or legalese for programmers to abide to. Rather it seems important to me to make the answer to these questions clearly understood so that conscientious Perl programmers can go about their normal business without having to worry about hidden legal (or moral) trapdoors. BrowserUK has stated that my interpretation of these issues as I understand them would make it impossible to use Perl in a commercial project. I think that's the wrong conclusion to jump to, but it would be helpful to have further clarifications to make sure.

    I understand the difficulty of giving binding legal advice on such general terms and know that probably no lawyer will commit to giving it. I don't think that's necessary though, if someone wants a binding answer they need to go to their (or their companies) lawyer anyway and opinions will differ. But a non-binding advice by someone who has a good understanding of these issues would be very helpful IMO.

    Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. -- Brian W. Kernighan


      1. Depends on the license. You should speak with a lawyer if you have any doubts.

      2. Copyright is a complex subject. Its quite possible that much of a program is exempted from copyright for various reasons. You should speak with a lawyer if you have any doubts.

      3. Depends on the license. You should speak with a lawyer if you have any doubts.

      4. You should inform the author that they have not specified a license model and that you would like clarification. You should speak with a lawyer if you have any doubts.

      5. You should speak to a lawyer about the first point. The second point i believe is more clear: ST is a technique, so it is quite possible that a given instance of the technique is under a copyright, however its quite clear that the technique itself is not copywritable as techniques just arent copywritable. And the fact that the ST is well documented and in print suggests that it is not patented. But if you have doubts about this you should speak to a lawyer, patent law is not for the weak of heart.

      6. If the code is released under the Artistic license you are fairly free to use the code as you choose. You should speak to a lawyer for specific interpretations of your rights.

      In short none of this stuff is within the remit of this site or of TPF. If you want a site that does deal with stuff like that wander over to But even there you will find advice that more or less boils down to If in doubt, speak with a lawyer.


        You should speak with a lawyer if you have any doubts.

        Thanks, I know the litany :-). And if I have occasion to need a concrete answer to a question which is really doubtful I will. But the always-correct answer "you should talk to a lawyer" does not help someone who cannot or does not want to talk to a lawyer and just wants to know "Can I take this module and use it at work." or "Can I copy this subroutine into my own program". That's an entry-barrier into using OS software which we can do without. No programmers I know like dealing with legal stuff and if they come up with such a question and don't easily find an answer they may decide to not bother and wander off to use C# instead. I believe that most of these questions can be answered in general with a fair amount of accuracy by a knowledgeable person, and having these answers available would be a good thing.

        Anyway, I'm happy with chromatics answer, so no need to butt heads over this.

        Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. -- Brian W. Kernighan

      TPF is soliciting comments on a proposed second version of the Artistic License and a FAQ that gives answers and interpretations to many of these questions. Do consult your own laywer though.

        Thank you, that is the best answer I could have hoped for and great news.

        Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. -- Brian W. Kernighan
Re: The Perl Foundation Wants to Hear From You
by tphyahoo (Vicar) on Dec 08, 2005 at 09:54 UTC
    I would like some information about the relationship between Parrot and Pugs. Are they friends, competitors, or both? What do they have in common, what is different? I got the idea, maybe mistakenly, that pugs is aiming for a full bootstrap implementation of perl6 eventually... whatever that means. Given that, and the publicity (and user community) pugs has generated, is TPF also funding Pugs at some level?

    What's the deal?

      Again, that's another great question which should be posted to the blog. We'd really like that to be a centralized point for TPF communication so folks can have their "one stop shopping", if you will.

      As for Parrot and Pugs, there is no competition. Though related, they're actually in different problem spaces. Further, the Perl 6 design team has been quite grateful for the work Pugs has done to clarify many corner cases which previously had not been considered. However, I haven't paid very close attention to Pugs/Parrot interaction (I've had to be more focused on Parrot) so even though I'm aware there's been some communication there, I don't to what extent.

      And no, to the best of my knowledge, TPF is not funding any Pugs development though we've sponsored "Hackathons" for it. I believe we did this for Toronto and it's possible this will also happen for an Israeli Pugs hackathon, but details on the latter are still being worked out. However, those sponsorships are not handled by the grant committee (I turned them over to Jim Brandt, the conference committee head), so I don't know too much about what's involved there.


      New address of my CGI Course.

        As for Parrot and Pugs, there is no competition. Though related, they're actually in different problem spaces.

        A while ago, I attempted to get a better grasp of what the respective problem spaces actually are, from A Plan for Pugs. I found the article to be a lot of fun, and inspiring, but kind of difficult to understand, probably because it deals with concepts that are a little beyond me. But at any rate, the money quote from Autrijus, or at any rate one money quote:

        Autrijus: Actually, I think Pugs and Parrot will meet in the middle. W +here Pugs AST meets Parrot AST and the compiler is written in Perl 6 +that can then be run on Parrot. chromatic: I thought Pugs would get rewritten in C for Parrot? Autrijus: No, in Perl 6. chromatic: Can GHC retarget a different AST then? Autrijus: It can, but that's not the easier plan. chromatic: It's easy for me. I don't plan to do it. Autrijus: The easier plan is simply for Pugs to have a Compile.hs that + emits Parrot AST. Which, I'm happy to discover yesterday, is painles +s to write. (Ingy and I did a KwidAST->HtmlAST compiler in an hour, t +ogether with parser and AST.)
        Another money quote apropos this theme:
        chromatic: Are you compiling it to native code now? I remember that be +ing a suggestion a few days ago. Autrijus: Pugs itself is compiled to native code; it is still evaluati +ng Perl 6 AST, though. chromatic: It's like Perl 5 in that sense then. Autrijus: Yes, it's exactly like Perl 5. Have you read PA01? chromatic: I have. Autrijus: Cool. So yeah, it's like Perl 5 now. The difference is B::* +is trivial to write in Pugs chromatic: Except maintainable. Autrijus: And yeah, there's the maintainable bit. Pugs is <4k lines of + code. I think porting Pugs to Perl 6 will take about the same number + of lines, too.
        Now, if only I understood better what these guys were talking about... someday.....
        Why would someone give to the Perl Foundation instead of just giving directly to Mr. Autrijus Tang, or Mr. Wall, or whoever?
Re: The Perl Foundation Wants to Hear From You
by Anonymous Monk on Dec 06, 2005 at 18:37 UTC

    Sounds like the old corporate suggestion box scheme. You put up a suggestion box in the company rec facilities to encourage the feeling amongst the employee's of having a voice. And each suggester gets a token monetary award and anice letter on company notepaper thanking them for their contribution, with a small-print footnote saying that implementation of the suggestion is delayed subject to further analysis.

    Meanwhile it's business as usual, with jobs for the boys amongst senior management and shareholders. In the rare event that a good idea comes from the box, it gets wrapped up in some fancy words and becomes a management initiative, with the current board awarding themselves pay rises on the back of it.

    Considered (Roy Johnson): reap: troll
    Unconsidered (holli): Enough keep votes. (Keep: 11, Edit: 1, Reap: 6)

      Except that this box is made of glass, everyone can see the suggestions and gets to see, first hand, what we're doing.

      The analogy is further flawed because, unlike a corporate environment, we don't drive the organization. We want to take our marching orders from the rank and file but it's pretty tough to do that if we don't give them an easy way of telling us what they want and keep them informed of what we're actually doing.

      If you want to sit on the outside and lob stones at the glass box without contributing useful work/ideas, that's your choice, but I really take offense at tearing us down for trying to get things done.

      Update: if you think you can do better (and I'm sure things can be done better), how about actually make useful suggestions rather than just complaining? How about stepping up to the plate and volunteering? Actions speak so much louder than words.


      New address of my CGI Course.

        Then perhaps you could institute open elections for positions on board of TPF?

        Then, when your position becomes available next time, the community will be able to influence the decisions taken inside that "glass box", or at least the people who take them, instead of peering in guppy-like from the outside.

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