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Isn't that nice?

by frankus (Priest)
on Aug 30, 2002 at 11:14 UTC ( #194065=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Perl6 has left me cold. In fact at first I thought someone had been taken in by this old chestnut.
The comparisons are scary, perhaps they were meant to be.

Like most of Perl programmers I know, I'm a pragmatist.
A conceptual model is not going to help me finish todays work.
I guess I'm more lazy than most, the length of the Apocalypses, left me cold.
So I've sat in ignorance and worried about the future of Perl for some time.
I've increased the amount of Python, Java and Ruby I can put on my CV,
for a time when Perl is marginalised as I percieve Sed and Awk to be now.

So like most at Conway Hall last night, there to listen to Damian Conway describe Perl6, I was sceptical.
As Damian predicted, one by one the lights would flick on in people's eyes as a new concept appealed to them.
The number of excited whispers in the audience increased as concepts hit home and people grasped the implications and applications.

The pervading theme of the talk, that lasted three and a half hours was this: less syntactic sugar, more syntactic vitamins.
There are more features to make you say "this is really cool", despite the fact that the way they're called may be slightly more verbose.

The power has increased, so keywords may be longer but the program needs fewer for the same functionality.
Bad news is there are less sigils to freak out Java coders, but this means we can assimilate them.

A lot of the work is removing niggles and adding stuff that people have wanted in Perl, indented heredocs, case statements, exceptions.
Then add to list of enhancements that are entirely new to any language:
dedicated applications of functions by making a parameter constant,
some un-earthly use of lists as parameters
and it's hard to dislike the plans for Perl6.

Not all the news was good, or rather immediately palatable.
But it's worth remembering that Perl has come a long way from munging text. It's been stretched out to cover a wide range.
It's prudent to let it evolve to cope with it's new demands as gracefully as it does at it's initial application.
The talk has renewed my faith in Perl and made me consider reading the Apocalypse.

Thanks to Damian, and the Perl Foundation for an excellent thought provoking evening.

The title refers to Damian's conclusion to each glimpse into the toy-store that will be Perl6.


Brother Frankus.


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Isn't that nice?
by Bukowski (Deacon) on Aug 31, 2002 at 09:20 UTC
    I was at the talks (both Damians 'Life the Universe and Everything' and the Perl6 talk) and as a Perl 'user' as opposed to anything else I was extremely happy to find that not only could I understand the talk (it was extremely well pitched) it has certainly removed any fears I had about Perl6

    I don't have the wherewithal to understand everything Larry says in the Apocalypses - Damians talk (a marathon 3 hours) brought home just how much SENSE Perl6 makes!

    Anyone using Perl either loves <or I presume hates ;)> its quirks, but there are some issues that really needed addressing - from simple things like sigil useage to the, lets face it, unwieldy regex syntax.

    I have been more concerned about the regex re-write than anything else, because thats WHY I USE PERL! So they're not really regex anymore but 'rules' and one thing thats vastly improved is whitespace handling. They're simply much more powerful now.

    I am a perl novice, but my appetite has been wetted for Perl6 - I really cannot wait, so much so that I spent the day after the talks reading up on Parrot.

    The quote for me that summed it up was Damian saying "You trusted Larry with Perl5 and it all worked out, now trust him with Perl6".

    Perl has the *best* developer community of any language, and Perl6 will have its nay-sayers, but for an average user I can see how Perl6 is going to make my life a whole lot easier and THATS THE POINT!

    If you've never heard Damian speak, and he's near you - go see him. He's endlessly entertaining, extremely insightful and a wonderful ambassador for Perl.

    Yeah I know I am starting to sound evangelical, but I loved what I saw. The people moaning about the changes in Perl seem to be the ones who really just don't want to take a step forward. Humanity never got anywhere by sitting around doing nothing...

    Bukowski - aka Dan (
    "Coffee for the mind, Pizza for the body, Sushi for the soul" -Userfriendly

Re: Isn't that nice?
by John M. Dlugosz (Monsignor) on Aug 30, 2002 at 13:57 UTC
    enhancements that are entirely new to any language: dedicated applications of functions by making a parameter constant,

    What's that?


      I'm not sure, but maybe prebinding parameters?

      I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

        Forgive the duff syntax, been busy and I can't find an example, I'd have thought the lecture notes would be available online somewhere.., and I can't recall all the details precisely.

        sub divide( $x, $y ) { $x / $y } sub half assuming divide( $y=2 )
        Uh does that look familiar to anyone?


        Brother Frankus.

Re: Isn't that nice?
by George_Sherston (Vicar) on Aug 30, 2002 at 23:45 UTC
    That's interesting and reassuring. Sounds like Perl is still going to be optimised for that most valuable of IT inputs, Programmer Time. If so, I'm a buyer (or, I would be, if it wasn't already free, not just as in speech but as in beer too).

    George Sherston

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