YAPC::Europe 2013 in Kiev, week minus 26. Perl 7
Dear YAPC::Europe 2013 attendees,
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Today we would spend some time talking about Perl 7. Probably there's no one here who did not see at least a small portion of the discussion that burst a week ago on blogs.perl.org and nntp.perl.org. There were a number of posts about, well, yes, Perl 7. The title of this year's conference is Future Perl, so we as the organisers are very excited about the chance to move Perl forward exploiting the conference.
As a disclaimer, please note that we are not going to restrict the topics of the talks in any way and encourage the users and maintainers of Perl 5, the developers of Perl 6, and the thinkers of Perl 7 to attend the conference, communicate with other attendees and give talks about Perl of any version.
This season's discussions about Perl 7 started presumably with the Curtis Ovid Poe's short post on blogs.perl.org where he asked what the community thought about the changing of major version of Perl to 7 instead of releasing the version numbered 5.20. You may find lots of arguments in the comments to that post and in all other posts written by different authors that appeared later in different places.
Summarising the arguments, the reasons to ship Perl 7 are the following:
- There were no major version change for ages.
- The version 5 seems old-fashined, if not ancient (at least if you look only at the years of the releases).
- The differences among the subversions (5.6, 5.8, 5.10 and higher) are only known to the narrow group of Perl users but not beyond it.
- Perl 6 is perhaps not well known as a research project and people tend to think that if Perl 6 is the next major version of Perl and it is still under development, Perl itself is not developing.
The reasons not to call Perl Perl 7 now are:
- We'd better fix more bugs in existent internal code of Perl.
- We need to add more default features and remove the outdated ones first.
- It's better just to write cool applications to show the power of Perl.
- By simply changing of the major version we will attract enormous attention and will disappoint people when they will explore what's really new appeared in Perl 7.
So what as an organisers can we do to support Perl development? Among the T-shirts :-)
We already will offer a place for hacking on Perl 6. Before the conference there will be a whole-day Perl 6 hackathon. We invite there everybody who is interested not only in Rakudo implementation but also who is interested in what's going on inside the language and its specification, which had so much influenced the current Perl 5 and added a number of nice features (starting from say) that really gave Perl 5 another life forces after the release of Perl 5.10.
Really, Perl has changed a lot since then, and maybe we needed to call it Perl 7 instead of Perl 5.10, not 5.20? But why not do it now? We don't have to be afraid of the fact that there are not too many differences between Perl 5.18 and Perl 5.20, or that there will be some boilerplates (like the need to explicitly use utf8) that would be nice to leave in the past.
These concerns are all correct but let's not lose more time and turn the Perl 7 project into a 15 years of development, trying to agree on thousands of tiny details. We have to move further. It's just so attractive and exciting.
As a small example showing that it's not late to move to another maximum on the curve of Perl's popularity, watch the brilliant talk The Perl Renaissance given this year by Paul Fenwick at linux.conf.au 2013, the Australia's Linux and Open Source conference.
The things mentioned in the talk all sound like the ones from a modern language, so, why not make it modern from the first look and become it evident for everybody? Don't forget that three years ago, in 2010, there was a YAPC::Europe in Pisa entitled The Renaissance of Perl. Once again, what we thought of as new in Perl 5.10 a few years ago and what we've made with Perl to make it Modern is still attractive enough to bring new Perl users today. We just have to act ourselves.
Another proof of how fast and active Perl users can be was demonstrated at FOSDEM this year. At first, the Perl dev room proposal was rejected by the organisers. In a week(!) before the conference the dev room was finally accepted and the Perl community managed to gather the whole-day track of Perl talks just in a few days. And there were more talks ready to fill another day.
Now back to our Perl conference in Kiev. We added a talk, Perl 7 Round Table, and encourage you to star it if you are interested in discussing the change of the major version of Perl. We want to invite active Perl users on stage to argue about pros and contras, and to answer the conference attendees questions. We also would like to schedule it close to the Larry Wall's keynote and would like to know his opinion on the subject.
You may already start a discussion by commenting this newsletter at the conference site.