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Perl 6 - When will we have a production release?

The "Perl 6" project was announced some years back now, with the philosophy of "right rather than rushed" and the comment "you'll have it for Christmas, but we won't tell you which Christmas".

It's in the nature of an Open Source - community - development that the development strands will be in the public domain and that the time from announcement of a product through to final release will be far longer that it would be for a commercial product, developed in a secretive backroom to avoid the competition getting wind of the project and stealing many of the ideas. And this extended lead time is to the detriment of the Open Source product, as it leads to FUD (Fear, uncertainty and Doubt) in the minds of people who are waiting - at first patiently then perhaps less patiently - for the upcoming release.

Programming languages are surprisingly static!! That's typically what the programming organisation wants - it does NOT want to have to redevelop code written in 2005 when a fresh (and incompatible) language comes along in 2008, nor to have code that's being developed this year [I'm writing in 2008] being written off and re-implemented before 2012. So "Right rather than rushed" does make huge sense. And the naturally impatient (of whom I am one!) need to temper our impatience and remember (a) Perl 5 is a SUPERB language, and (b) Perl 6 WILL support the Perl 5 grammar so that mass redevelopment will NOT be necessary.

I headed this piece "Perl 6 - when will we have a production release?". I don't know is the answer; I'm not one of the central team and in any case, with anything that involved research and development to the extent that this does cannot be timed to specific dates. I did come across a very interesting discussion - here - if you want to read further in to the current status as it was a few months back.

Does it matter to me when we have a release? Not as much as you might at first have thought - because:
• We can still develop code in Perl 5 and (remember) it is superb
• We know enough about Perl 6 to develop with the future in mind
• Perl 5 will have a very long support tail - note the new 5.10 release

And from a Perl Training viewpoint:
• We already look ahead (briefly) to Perl 6 in our courses
• We already use some Perl 6 terms and advise our delegates on how to write code that's going to be supportable and maintainable for as long as possible
• The uptake of Perl 6 (which some have argued should be given a new name and not just the next version number) will not be so fast and overwhelming that it will make Perl 5 redundant overnight - even if it turns our to be the language that saves the world from running out of resources and global warming, large amounts of legacy code will dramatically dampen the switch to the new source language.

The is, though, a danger of Perl 6 - if it takes too much longer - missing the boat. Already you see "competitive" languages (and you'll note that I have quoted the word competitive) such as Python and Ruby and Lua making inroads into what - 5 years ago - would have automatically been Perl projects, and you've seen PHP and various other systems take over in the web programming sphere. Which is not to say that a "superb ** 2" Perl 6 won't have people flocking back. It just gets harder to see that happening by the year.
(written 2008-07-26)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter for individual articles
P256 - Perl 6 Look Ahead
  [3077] Perl 6 - significantly nearer, and Rakudo looks very good - (2010-12-02)
  [2967] Multiway branches in Perl - the given and when syntax - (2010-09-22)
  [2817] Setting a safety net or fallback value in Perl - (2010-06-19)
  [2816] Intelligent Matching in Perl - (2010-06-18)
  [2815] switch and case, or given and when in Perl - (2010-06-17)
  [2559] Moving the product forward - ours, and MySQL, Perl, PHP and Python too - (2010-01-01)
  [1417] What software version do we teach? - (2007-10-31)
  [1215] An update on Perl - where is it going? - (2007-06-03)
  [995] Ruby's case - no break - (2006-12-17)
  [582] DWIM and AWWO - (2006-01-30)
  [550] 2006 - Making business a pleasure - (2006-01-01)
  [113] A Parallel for Perl 6 - (2004-11-09)
  [89] When will Perl 6 be available - (2004-10-15)

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