Perl, Perl 5, Perl 6, and names

First, please, you are free to comment, but I do not want to open a flame war or anything. Also, I do not think this is the place for this to be discussed. This post is just my humble opinion.

I think Perl 6 is a bad name for the new language Larry (and Damian and others) are defining. First, before the language, although based on Perl 5, is a new language. Second, because the name is around for too many time, making it bad advertising for the language itself, and for the community. Third, because it makes hard to Perl 5 to advance.

In fact, I think that keeping the name of the new language as Perl 6 is bad for everybody, from the people that do not like Perl 6, for the people who love Perl 6, and for all the community members.

I know there are some books out already that have Perl 6 in their names. But they are not best sellers, and changing Perl 6 name will not be that relevant.

My point of view (thinking on advertising strategy, mostly) is that we should rename Perl 6 to something else. Camelia would be an option. You can also glue Perl with Six, and call it Perlix or Perlvi if you like roman numbers. In fact, Camelia would be the best.

Then, we have another problem. We can't make Perl 5 advance to Perl 6. Also, it is not a good idea to keep Perl 5 current version strategy. As somebody already suggested in Perl 5 porters list, we should drop the five. So, next Perl version would be Perl 16!

More than thinking with the heart, we should check what marketeers would do...


What's in a name? We have had similar discussions in #perl6 on Freenode with numerous pros and cons, vented much hot air, and nothing changed. The bottom line is, it's Larry's baby, and Larry calls it Perl 6.

Larry isn't going to change it. So go forward with that knowledge.

Everything is in the name. A name indicates the purpose of something to those who aren't familiar with the concept.

I could use the word "blub" instead of the phrase "programming language", but anyone not familiar with Paul Graham's writings wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about.

Hell, I could change my online handle to mst, or chromatic, or just change my legal name to Larry Wall and use the same argument - but it just adds confusion.

There are billions of Perl programmers in the Darkpan that still ask where Perl6 is, not understanding that it's not an implementation, even to the point where they think moving to Perl5.xx is pointless, and they'll just wait for Perl6. Ugh.

Perl6 is a horrible name for a language spec, only because it reflects badly on Perl5. If the Perl6 folk don't care about that, then there's nothing that can be done. If they do, however, then I vote for the name being changed to Camelia, as Alberto has suggested.

@tempire - There is no voting. Larry has already said it is Perl 6. I think it was a shortsighted naming myself but I don't get a vote either.

Of course you can...I would not suggest otherwise.

The Roman number IV is four, not six; you want VI, which would start a different flame war.

I vote for Perlemacs, myself.

Does renaming Perl 6 to Perlemacs imply renaming Perl 5 to Perlteco?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Palindromes portend positive (putative) possibilities:

"Perlemacs, Camel Rep."

i already write about that earlier on that site:

i think camelia is not a good name. and i also disagree that perl 5.16 should be called perl 16 because its an anual version. major numbers should switch when soemthing major happens. and yes Perl 6 maybe shoule named MetaPerl or a wird with a meaning in that direction because its a meta language.

I agree with your sentiments that calling the new language “Perl 6” has been a mistake. Someone I talked to suggested that some of my sentiments I voiced against Perl 6 (see for example my “Critique of Where Perl 6 is Heading”) were due to calling it “Perl 6”, which implied it was a continuation of Perl 5.

I wouldn't call Perl 5.16.x Perl 16, in a similar fashion to Emacs being Emacs 23 instead of Emacs 1.23, though.

Maybe you don't like how Perl 6 has ended, but the reasons behind its inception are still valid.

Quoting from the Perl wiki: At that time, the primary goals were to remove "historical warts" from the language; "easy things should stay easy, hard things should get easier, and impossible things should get hard; a general cleanup of the internal design and APIs"

The Perl 5 interpreter internals are a nightmare. Even if its development has revived lately it has still proved very hard to introduce new features in a sane manner. There are even critical bugs that can't be solved. And the learning curve for new people to enter into the game is almost impossible.

Then there is Perl as a language. Introducing newer features without breaking backwards compatibility can also be challenging. There is a lot of cruft on the language and misimplemented features (prototypes, attributes, threads, overloading, too much DWIM, etc.).

Compare it to other scripting languages that are able to introduce new powerful features regularly and have several lively implementations.

So, we still need a "Perl 6", maybe not the actual "Perl 6", but some other "Perl 6" more near to the current "Perl 5", internals rewritten from scratch and with the language cruft removed.

Alberto, sorry, mi post was not really a direct reply to your post but mostly a dump of my thoughts after reading it.

Probably centered around this thing about dropping the 5 and calling the next perl "Perl 16". That assumes that Perl 5 development is doing fine. It is not.

BTW, the blog entry linked by Shlomi Fish contains a comment by Michael G. Schwern that is a must read.


At some early point in my learning process I started hearing about Perl 6, a subject that seems to cause confusion even within the Perl community. Unsurprisingly, this confusion is magnified for newbies. I now know that Perl 6 is to be treated as an entirely separate language, but outsiders do not know this. To them the decade long (and still going) process to create a production quality implementation seems like a joke. When an outsider sees the names “Perl 5″ and “Perl 6″, the completly natural assumption is that “Perl 6″ is the next version of Perl. And the natural conclusion after seeing that Perl 6 was announced over a decade ago and has very little adoption, is that Perl is a dead language. I have read that Larry has spoken the final word on this issue, but that doesn’t mean it was the correct word. It just means the issue has been closed for debate. The name Perl 6 will continue to hurt the perception of the community from the outside.

I also agree that Perl 6 should be called something else. For us, inside the Perl community, it's easy to distinguish them.

For everyone else, it's a mess. Also, nowadays, people only seem to notice major version increases. Firefox has switched to frequent major version increases (the new Firefox 5), Chrome is at... what? Chrome 13 or something? Emacs, Java... the list goes on.

My personal favorite would be renaming Perl 6 to Perl++. And freeing up the Perl 6 name for an actual incremental major Perl release (such as something which would make perl5i the core syntax, for instance).

If I wrote a song and thought it was great and then proceeded to play it for everyone I knew and not one person enjoyed the song, would I still think it was a great song?

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About Alberto Simões

user-pic I blog about Perl. D'uh!