$3M says Perl5 needs a new major version number
Yesterday, Ovid started his discussion about moving the major version of Perl 5 to Perl 7. You know what else happened that day? Continuum Analytics won $3M from DARPA to undertake a huge renovation to NumPy. Three. Million. Dollars. Not for Python. For an extension for Python. Continuum plans to add all kinds of capabilities, but bear in mind that PDL already possesses at least one of those, namely built-in support for missing data. From the technical standpoint, we were already ahead, and somebody else won $3M.
NumPy is very well run, and very well organized, and there are many more libraries available for NumPy than there are for PDL. Those dollars are very likely to be well spent. I will not argue that this was a bad decision by DARPA.
But think about it. Do you remember just how amazing it was when Craigslist gave the Perl Foundation $100,000? Or when Booking.com gave the Perl Foundation 100,000 Euros? Now, multiply that by 30.
chromatic replied to Ovid's post by saying that we should write kick-ass software. Well, I have. I wrote a plotting library that I think is really good. It addresses one of the most important shortcomings of PDL, namely the lack of a default plotting library. It still needs a ton of work, but it fast and functional, today, and it has a strong foundation. The problem? Nobody uses the library besides me. Why? Because they already went through the labor of setting up some other plotting library, like PGPLOT, PLplot, or Gnuplot. That took a lot of effort, and climbing the learning curve took time for them. That means that the only way to really get users is to get new users. Now, tell me: where are new users coming from?
I repeat, where are new users coming from?
Potential new users ask their friends how they get their work done. Their friends say Matlab, or R, or Python. Potential new users are probably more likely to try using Ruby than they are to try using Perl because "it's cool." Everybody thinks Perl has gone the way of Tcl. And why shouldn't they? Tcl's latest major version is newer than Perl's.
What would I like? I'd like to see Perl 5.18+Moo released as Perl 7. Make it big. Make a splash. People will be wowed by the new syntax---even better than Python's or Ruby's OO sugar---and will be happy when p5mop finally hits and delivers a major speed-up.
Please, stop saying that "if you build it, they will come." We need hype.