OSCON: Worried about Perl 6

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Robert Kaye
Jul. 26, 2004 07:26 PM

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I'm a big fan of perl -- I've written lots of code in perl and I plan to write a bunch more this fall. But now that I am browsing the OSCON convention program, I am starting to worry about perl 6. For instance, the description of Allison Randal's "The Perl 6 Compiler Today" presentation states:

While it's true that it'll still be a few years before we see a complete beta of Perl 6, there's a good bit of code working now, if you're not afraid to dance on the bleeding edge.

And Damian Conway's "Perl6" presentation description says:

The design of Perl 6 has moved ahead significantly in the past twelve months. ...

We've now seen several years of perl6 design and it looks like there will be a few more. Don't get me wrong -- lots of design is a good thing and the perl team is going about it very methodically. However, this process does seem to be taking a bit too much time.

I keep having to think about M$'s Longhorn OS. Its been pushed back time and time again and it won't see the light of day until '06. In the meantime Apple has new OS releases much more frequently and it seems as though every day some Linux distribution has a new release. I think M$ is vulnerable in taking so long to bring Longhorn to market -- vulnerable to smaller, more nimble players to come in and take away market share.

I'm worried that perl6 is exposing itself to the same kind of peril. Python has grabbed my attention in a big way and it seems that killer new scripting languages are coming around every day. Will the carefully crafted perl6 have a chance to maintain its position as the hacker's scripting language of choice?

I've always preferred many smaller releases rather then infrequent large releases (release early, release often, right?) and large releases set of warning bells in my mind. Is the technology becoming too heavy? Longhorn certainly is, but is perl6? Will perl6 be worth the wait?

It wasn't my plan to focus on perl this conference, but now my curiosity has been piqued -- I'll poke my head into the perl6 sessions and see what I think after the conference.

Robert Kaye is the Mayhem & Chaos Coordinator and creator of MusicBrainz, the music metadata commons.