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Whatever, Perl 6 Is On The Way

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Larry Wall’s recent State of the Onion address concerned Perl 6 and the concept of being prepared to do “whatever” in the context of the next version of the language.

Government Computer News compared Perl 6 to “the ever-M.I.A. Duke Nukem computer game,” and considering Wall’s observation that it isn’t ready yet, Duke Nukem Forever might be a fair comparison.

Coders probably have more confidence in Wall than 3D Realms, and justifiably so. 3D Realms had said they would not release screenshots of the game because they want players to be surprised while playing the game. Somehow it appears fans may be more surprised if they ever get the game.

Perl 6 has a surprise in store, and that is “whatever.” Or as Wall showed in one of his presentation slides, 1..*. “Actually, “whatever” is such an important concept that we built it into Perl 6. This is read, ‘from one to whatever’,” Wall said.

He extended the discussion of the topic from here:

You might ask why we can’t just say “from one to infinity.” The problem is that not all operators operate on numbers: Not all operators are ranges. Here’s the sibling argument operator, which repeats the same words an arbitrary number of times: (“Yes!”,”No!”) xx*

Perl has always been about letting you care about the things you want to care about, while not caring about the things you don’t want to care about, or that maybe you’re not quite ready to care about yet. That’s how Perl achieves both its accessibility and its power. We’ve just baked more of that “who cares?” philosophy into Perl 6.


When it comes to the delivery date, Wall is equally “whatever” about that, as he and the Perl community have been, historically:

Now, anyone who has been following along at home knows that we never, ever promise a delivery date for Perl 6. Nevertheless, I can point out that many of us hope to have most of a Perl 6 parser written in Perl 6 by this Christmas. The only big question is which VM it will compile down to first. There’s a bit of a friendly race between the different implementations, but that’s healthy, since they’re all aiming to support the same language.


Or as Wall put it in his closing slide, relating that to the opening mnemonic for remembering “the old Linnean taxonomy of biological classification”: Kid Perl Completes One Final Growth Spurt.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Whatever, Perl 6 Is On The Way
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