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Perl 6: Will we use it?

by neilwatson (Priest)
on Jun 06, 2003 at 15:20 UTC ( #263705=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

After seeing the poll about new featurs in Perl 6 and the number of people who did not want to think about it (lalalala, I can't hear you). I began thinking.

Perl 6 seems to be a very radical change. Apart from the 'compatability layer' that allows you to run Perl 5.x code, one could argue that it is an entirely new langauge. Do we need a new language? What is so wrong with Perl 5.x that we need Perl 6? When Perl 6 comes out, how many will move to it? How many will avoid it until the last possible minute?

Neil Watson

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Perl 6: will we us it?
by adrianh (Chancellor) on Jun 06, 2003 at 16:57 UTC

    Personally I think Perl6 is only a new language to the same sort of extent that Perl5 was a new language compared to Perl4 (remember the time before lexicals and objects :-)

    I think you will be surprised about how familiar Perl6 will seem.

    There are big things (for me) wrong with Perl5 (e.g. the poor encapsulation of state and implementation in objects) that cause problems in development. They also cause problems in the acceptance of Perl in the wider development community.

    Why do I use Perl then? Because its advantages outweigh its disadvantages (e.g. CPAN, rapid development time, etc.).

    To me Perl6 looks like Perl5 without the cruft that causes me problems. I'll move to Perl6 as soon as it starts solving problems more easily than Perl5 does :-)

    You might also find previous discussions of interest:

    (Also, I try and learn at least one new programming language a year - and Perl6 will be so easy :-)

      Yep. Just what I've been saying. Every time someone complains that Perl 6 is taking too long or mourning that "they" got struck with second system effect, I have to think back to Perl4 and how many fewer things than Perl5 it had. Yet I don't think anyone nowadays misses Perl4 much. It's probably going to be the same with Perl6; years down the road people will probably shake heads at how needlessly complicated many things are to do in Perl5 that we'll have gotten used to in Perl6 by then.

      I'm not all looking forward to it. Some decisions disappointed me, and I'm generally nervous about all the new stuff. However, I fully expect at least 95% of my worries to be habit dependent ones which will diminish with increasing familiarity.

      And then, there are also already tons of goodies I'm itching to lay my hands on. Easy good object orientation will be a huge relief. Above all though, I am excitedly waiting to hear the rolling thunder when Perl6's pattern matching language shakes the computing world at its foundations. I believe it's going to make a monumental impact. I'm not just saying it will rock, I'm saying it will blow everything else out there out of its way like a meteor smashing into the Atlantic.

      If you excuse me, I'll have to take a few breaths now. :) We'll see how the project turns out eventually.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Jun 06, 2003 at 16:31 UTC

    Who is "we"? I'll use it.

    I'm very much looking forward to better higher-order functions, improved threading, easier extension mechanisms, better distribution mechanisms, embeddable Parrot, a faster VM, hypotheticals, more succinct syntax, a cleaner codebase, and the new rules syntax.

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by perrin (Chancellor) on Jun 06, 2003 at 15:45 UTC
    I think you worry too much. It will probably follow the same pattern as most software: it comes out, early adopters try it, eventually it either catches on or doesn't. No reason to stress about it.

    As for what's "so wrong" with Perl 5.x, it's more a question of what could be improved in Perl 5.x. People listed their ideas in the Perl 6 RFC process, and you can read about them in Larry's articles on

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by l2kashe (Deacon) on Jun 06, 2003 at 15:57 UTC
    I will use it. I think that "production" codebases will put it off as long as possible, for a slew of reasons.

    In my mind there *must* be valid reasons for such a radical rewrite. The core developers of Perl obviously thought that where the language needed/wanted to grow wasn't m/(?:cleanly|efficiently|)/ possible in its present state. I know that there have been many a discussion inregards to Perl's internals, and the hackish nature of some code. Also I think that this allows Perl to step forward into a "brighter" spotlight and get the respect I think it truly deserves from the world at large, as opposed to us "zealots". ;)

    I love the speed of prototyping and execution Perl provides to myself and others. I love the functionality built into the core of the language, the extensibility provided by CPAN. The fact that I can go from wrapping a bit of C around my Perl code and directly access system libraries, all the way upto say the GD family generating dynamic images on the fly in variety of outputs, or the functionality provided by CGI is amazing to say the least. But not only is it amazing between the breadth of scope covered by perl, but the fact that the syntax changes very little between this massive scope.

    Easy things should be easy, difficult things should be possible.
    With that in mind, I say bring on Perl 6. If we can keep that mentality, while speeding up runtime, appeasing the people's request for more static variables, on top of cleaning the OOP interface, *and* provide those who want it, bytecode to run on multiple systems without the source I say Im all for it...

    even though the new syntax scares me just a bit

    MMMMM... Chocolaty Perl Goodness.....
Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by Elian (Parson) on Jun 06, 2003 at 21:28 UTC
    Well, I wrote the poll, and I think it's reasonably safe to say that I'm not against Perl 6. :)

    When you get right down to it, some people will hate perl 6 without even trying it, the same as some people will love it without trying it. And after trying it some people will love it, and some will hate it. Most people probably won't invest all that much emotion into it, though some will. I fully expect someone to accuse us of being pawns of some conspiracy or other to destroy perl. (I shall be quite disappointed if that doesn't happen, actually, so if someone could please pencil that into their calendar? Thanks)

    If perl 6 fulfills a need better than the alternatives, it'll get used, and if it doesn't it won't. It's reasonable to to expect that a need is seen, since everyone involved has better things to do with their lives than go chasing software will-o-wisps.

    Relax, it's just 1s and 0s. There's a limit to how much excitement it's worth.

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by porkpilot (Deacon) on Jun 06, 2003 at 15:48 UTC
    My "plan" is to use the stick-one-toe-in approach, AKA "the water's fine but the fish are carnivorous!"

    I'll take on a new project or two and implement them in Perl 6 and then, depending on how that goes, I will consider whether or not there be any serious benefit to 6-ing my existing code.

    That way, I can rush in and embrace the new while still resisting all non-security-related change. ;-)

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by hardburn (Abbot) on Jun 06, 2003 at 16:42 UTC

    There are basically two things that really annoy me about Perl5: Subroutine arg passing and the object system. Arg passing is fixed for certain. We haven't gotten to the object system Apocolypse yet, but from the discussion on it that I've seen so far, it seems like Perl6's object system will be far and away superior to Perl5's. So I'm going to jump on Perl6 as soon as I can.

    I wanted to explore how Perl's closures can be manipulated, and ended up creating an object system by accident.
    -- Schemer

    Note: All code is untested, unless otherwise stated

      > it seems like Perl6's object system will be far and away superior to Perl5's.

      Does this mean that my recently ordered copy of Object Oriented Perl by Damian Conway will be obsolete soon? :(


        Given that Damian's one of the big driving forces behind the changes to the object system, I don't think you have to worry...
        Depends on your definition of "soon". ;->

        Makeshifts last the longest.

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by Mr. Muskrat (Canon) on Jun 06, 2003 at 16:46 UTC
    Only after the Camel has been updated to explain it all to me!
One can think perl6 as a faster Perl
by stefp (Vicar) on Jun 07, 2003 at 03:04 UTC
    There will be more to Perl6 than performance improvement. But this argument only would convince me to switch to Perl6.

    Indeed, one will gain a lot only by using Perl6 implementation as a faster Perl5 modulo a few syntactical changes and a few type declarations here and there.

    Let's face it, Perl5 is a pig; memory pig, CPU pig.

    Reference counting is a bad thing and getting worse with modern processors. For example, each time you add or remove a reference to an object the VM has to access this object to update its reference count. This trashes the cache. Parrot has real garbage collecting. The downside is the loss of timely destruction of object. It will be possible but at a cost to support perl5 code. Anyway, real garbage counting will be a win for perl6 code.

    Perl6 will support optional typing. For example, that means you will be able to declare an array of int. Way faster and leaner than an array of unknown type scalar. You get the idea!

    Also the implementation of Perl6 objects turns the implementation logic inside out. Currently a Perl5 opcode does a lot of "head scratching" before doing anything: Is this a scalar, a hash, an array? is it magic? With Perl6 and PMC, a vtable is directly accessed that implements the opcode for the given object. Here again, Perl6 will be faster.

    The neat result is that we will be able to apply our Perl5 skills in domains where we did not even think of using Perl because it was too slow. For some people, it will mean that they will not have to learn a new language because they will be able to do it in Perl.

    Perl6 as a faster Perl5 will be enough to convince me. But performance will be only a small part of the story.

    -- stefp
    Come to YAPC::Europe 2003 in Paris, 23-25 July 2003.

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by shotgunefx (Parson) on Jun 06, 2003 at 16:36 UTC
    It does indeed, but I myself look forward to having all these new tools at my finger tips. I do worry that it may in reality be complicating things too much. I'll hold off judging till it's a little closer to fruitation. I certainly will jump in, though production stuff will stay with Perl 5 for a while I'm sure.

    If it turns out to be that problematic, then I think things will fork and you'll have Perl5i or something along that lines.


    "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by kutsu (Priest) on Jun 06, 2003 at 16:52 UTC

    I voted Lalalalalala, I can't hear you..., mainly because I'm not looking forward to Perl 6. Not to say I'm not going to use it, but I still have enough going on with Perl 5 that I won't be using it anytime soon. Most likely, I'll get a Camel that explains the new features and slowly, like a year or two later, move to Perl 6.

    Updated: changed book to Camel after reading Mr. Muskrat's post

    "Pain is weakness leaving the body, I find myself in pain everyday" -me

      I'm in a similar boat. My Perl looks like C, and I rarely use the higher level capabilities of Perl. So I really haven't run into anything that needs improvement in Perl. Maybe as I progress in my Perl skills I'll find out what everyone's talking about with threading and OO and all that fun stuff.

Re: Perl 6: will we us it?
by bobdeath (Scribe) on Jun 06, 2003 at 15:31 UTC
    I personally will not move to perl 6 if I can help it. Its not that I don't want to learn the new constructs, it that I think perl already tries to be a "kitchen sink" language. It seems to me that perl tries to do everything for everyone, and from what I have seen from perl 6, that trend is increasing. Don't get me wrong, I like perl. I just think it needs to stick to what it is good at instead of trying to be something it was never meant to be.

      perl is a glue language. it's good at doing many things because programs require many different kinds of glue. it's also a dessert topping, and a floor wax. but don't get me started on that...

      what do you think it is good at, and where should it's limits be?

      my thoughts: as other technologies evolve, so should perl.

      ~Particle *accelerates*

      I just think it needs to stick to what it is good at instead of trying to be something it was never meant to be.

      Many times have I thought that about software. A popular example is ICQ which got all bloated pretty early on. And Winamp 3 is no fun. I keep running old-school Winamp 2. But I'm not worried. There is an old Winamp, and there are several alternative ICQ clients. Someone thought that ICQ no longer did what it was good at, and made another client that suited them and other better.

      Or look at Can you count the lite alternatives to it?

      I expect a Perl::Lite dialect to arise (perhaps even using Parrot) if the changes in Perl6 will make Perl less good at what it's supposed to be good at.

      I understand the worries people have about CPAN and related issues. Will I ultimately be forced into Perl6? I can even sympathize with that question. Yet I don't know; I still believe in evolution. If I'm forced into Perl6 then it's most likely because people like Perl6 and then it's an overall good. If I'm not forced into it, some anti-thesis helped forming the synthesis. If I and others dislikes it--yet too few to change Perl6's course--I'll get an own formation of developers that keep my flank of the community going. If you're one of them I believe it's simply called tough luck.

      Personally I will put my hat on and see where this boat will sail me. It might be the Ark, it might be Titanic. But I'm confident that if I'm on Titanic a Titinic::Lite will come and offer me a ride before Titanic sinks. I'm not a ship architect myself, so for the time being I keep my eyes open at the horizon--for both land, ice bergs, and fellow boats.

      Just my thoughts,
        I expect a Perl::Lite dialect to arise (perhaps even using Parrot) if the changes in Perl6 will make Perl less good at what it's supposed to be good at.

        The Winamp-ish reaction - people keep using Perl5 - is more likely I think.

        Actually they no doubt will, regardless of how good Perl6 is, because there's so much Perl5 code still floating around. And then, most new things in Perl6 will be quite optional anyway so basically it can be used as a lite version of itself.

        Uhm.. wait, I was trying to make a completely different point than what I ended up with. I guess my conclusion is it's not likely for Perl6 to not get adopted at all. Heh.

        Makeshifts last the longest.

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by mr_mischief (Monsignor) on Jun 06, 2003 at 17:12 UTC
    I will keep using Perl 5.x for production work until I've had a chance to play with Perl 6. I'll start using it to play with and for hobby code immediately when it's available.

    Christopher E. Stith
    use coffee;
Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by Desdinova (Friar) on Jun 07, 2003 at 06:18 UTC
    I have thought about this ever since the discussions started that PERL 6 will a big change.. and what I've come to is that when it is out I will start to learn the basic changes, if what i see seems to fit the way i think a little better then i may start getting more in depth and maybe start porting some of my stuff as an exrsise to see whether I like it better or not.

    What I think will really get me over there is what happens with CPAN. At first most of my code will stay PERL 5 since that what the modules I use are in, when really cool new modules come up or improved version of the ones I use now start showing up written in 6 and expecting to work with Perl 6 then I will really sart to switch over in ernest.

    I got into perl because i was working on problem that was turning into a real pain in shell script and someone pointed me to a very simple PERL solution, I suspect the same will happen with 6 when I have a problem that is easier or cleaner to solve in Perl 6 than in 5 then I will really have the motivation and the willingness to learn the new stuff.
Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by Oberon (Monk) on Jun 07, 2003 at 01:37 UTC

    I started using Perl, even though I thought the syntax was somewhat insane, because awk was getting on my nerves as I tried to do more and more complex things. But I still use awk every now and again, for its simplicity. Of course, the more I know Perl, the less easier awk seems.

    I fully expect the exact same shift from Perl5 to Perl6.

    Of course, the coolest thing about Perl6 will be the ability for every single person in the world to create their own version of Perl to suit themselves. Won't work very well for production code of course (as every single sub-Perl will have a maintenance programmer base of exactly 1), but nifty for our little home projects. Who couldn't love a completely mutating language? I don't even see why people bother wasting the energy complaining about this feature or that feature: it looks to me like it'll be far less effort for everyone just to eradicate their favorite unwanted feature in their personal version of Perl6 anyways ...

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by webfiend (Vicar) on Jun 07, 2003 at 13:59 UTC

    I like to whine to my friends about how scary and huge Perl 6 is shaping up to be, and how I want nothing to do with it. I started messing a lot with Ruby because I felt lost and bewildered by Perl 6.

    Truth is, I'm very excited. The Apocalypses scare me a little bit, until it occurs to me how few of Perl's advanced features I use. I skim my way through most of the Camel book, but it's really the function section I put to use. It's likely to be the same thing with Perl 6. The only new features that will really affect my work happen to be the ones that make things easier: fixed arg passing, along with improved type and object systems.

    So yeah, I'll use it. I'll keep using Ruby, though. The older I get, the easier it is for me to love more than one programming language :-)

    My Perl Geek Code:
    Version: 0.01
    P+>*@c--P6 R+M+O++MA+E+PU-BD
    C++D+S++X+WP+MO PP n-CO--PO o+G A
    +OLA--Ee+>+++Ev++Eon-Eot Eob
    uL+uB+uS!uH!uo!w m!
    ------END PERL GEEK CODE BLOCK------
Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by bart (Canon) on Jun 06, 2003 at 21:56 UTC
    To me, it will be a new language. I likely will use it, because of who made it... it can't be but reasonable to very good.

    But I'll stick to perl5 as well, regardless. Just as like whenever I start using another new language now, as well.

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by Jenda (Abbot) on Jun 08, 2003 at 18:35 UTC

    I think I'll wait at least till 6.0.1 before even trying it out. And I think it will be pain at first. Especialy due to the change of sigils treatment. I'm used to Perl5's meanings of $, @ and % and now everything will be different ...

    I'm sure that later I'll get used to it and will go ahead and explore all the magic, but I do expect quite some discomfort at first. So don't expect me to be among the early adopters.

    Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
       -- Rick Osborne

    Edit by castaway: Closed small tag in signature

Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by meredith (Friar) on Jun 09, 2003 at 12:27 UTC
    I believe I misunderstood my poll choice. I chose "lalala, etc." not because I want to ignore perl 6, but because I am not afraid of the features, changes, and gnashing of teeth that it will bring. Something new to learn, woop! Just think of the SoPW questions we'll get:

    Yeah, I want to change one line in a file using perl 6. I'll be getting the filename as a CGI parameter, along with the line number and replacement text. The script will be SUID root. What I really want to know is, should I write it in Perl 6, Perl 5 (on parrot), or use the Parrot assembler? If you have any suggestion toward any, can you post code? Oh, also don't put your name in any comments as I'll be cut and pasting this into my homework email to the prof.

    Yeah, it'll be a blast... ;)

    mhoward - at -

      I voted "lalala", too. It was the best choice, since, like mhoward, I couldn't find any choices that I was actually scared by.


Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by jonadab (Parson) on Jun 08, 2003 at 20:41 UTC

    Are you kidding? Have you been reading the Apocalypse articles? Not only will I use it when it comes out, I'll be agonizing about it for months ahead of time, hoping it will come out soon, trying to put off starting any new projects in Perl5 that will end up having to be converted. I'll almost certainly be using it before it's out of beta, because by then I won't be able to stand it any longer. Just like with Emacs 21 -- do you remember how painful it was waiting month after month for that? Perl6 will be the same.

    {my$c;$ x=sub{++$c}}map{$ \.=$_->()}map{my$a=$_->[1]; sub{$a++ }}sort{_($a->[0 ])<=>_( $b->[0])}map{my@x=(& $x( ),$ _) ;\ @x} split //, "rPcr t lhuJnhea o";print;sub _{ord(shift)*($=-++$^H)%(42-ord("\r"))};
Re: Perl 6: Will we use it?
by TomDLux (Vicar) on Jun 10, 2003 at 02:58 UTC

    I'm looking forward to Perl 6, but I think I should start a lottery on how many years it will be before anything is released.

    The optional availability of typing, especially with parameters, will be quickly and obviously useful. Personally, I like regexp being re-cast into something more powerful that lex/yacc. Continuations, directly supporting co-routines. Not to mention being able to select different languages for different components, where their relative benefits fit best.

    It will take a while for people to change over for anything serious or commercial, but it should make for interesting SoPW.

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