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07 August 2009, 14:25

Perl 6 due in spring 2010 - some of it anyway

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In a recent entry on his blog, Patrick Michaud has again confirmed the news which has been circulating this week in light of his presentation at the "YAPC::Europe 2009" conference in Lisbon, Portugal – Rakudo Perl 6 will be released in the spring of 2010 (with all of the signs pointing to April). Michaud is the 'Pumpking' (keeper of the pumpkin patches - think 'release manager') for the Rakudo Perl 6 compiler, designed to run on the Parrot virtual machine.

Come spring, the new version of the Perl scripting language will not include all of its functions, but it will be useable. According to Michaud, the release will be called "Rakudo *" ("Rakudo Star"). He also addresses the dilemma of people who are not involved in Perl development always asking when a finished version of Perl 6 will be ready. Michaud says that language development is more of an "evolutionary process" resulting from the interplay of language development and implementation efforts.

The Perl 6 development team are also faced with the problem of wanting to release a stable version which may not contain all of the planned functions, but is mature enough for use in projects. They hope that this will result in feedback from users, as experience from "real-world application programs" can provide valuable insights for finalising the specification and implementation. In contrast, he says that some users would prefer a final version, which is 'finished' from the point of view of functions and specification

In announcing the release of Rakudo Star in spring 2010, Michaud hopes to break this deadlock. It will be released as version 1.0 and the developers hope that the 1.0 name will signify to users that, while it may not be complete, it is a usable implementation of Perl 6.

Perl 6, which was first mooted in 2000 and has since fallen somewhat by the wayside, should, in contrast to Perl 5, be seen less as a programming language or a specific implementation and more as a specification for which there may be multiple implementations. For example in addition to Rakudo there is 'Pugs', first released in 2005. Pugs is an implementation of Perl 6 by Audrey Tang, written in Haskell.

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