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Perl.com: Report on the Perl 6 Announcement

Jul 31, 2000, 23:08 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mark-Jason Dominus)

"There are two big problems with Perl 5."

"First, the internals are extremely convoluted. It's hard to hack on Perl's internals. There's a lot of accumulated cruft, and Perl 5 has reached that stage of maturity in which it's difficult to make a change or fix a bug without introducing some new bug. The excellent test suite prevents the new bugs from getting into the release, of course, but it also prevents the new feature from getting into the release."

"The addition of threads, the compiler, bytecode generation, and Unicode support is still incomplete, because none of those things were designed into Perl 5; they are all being bolted on afterwards, and it shows."

"The other big problem is thirteen years of backward compatibility history. The porters might like to rationalize the syntax a little, or clean up Perl's semantics, but that might break old code, and Perl is committed to not breaking old code. We can't add a new built-in function because it might break old code. It's extremely difficult to remove even the most bizarre and little-used old features, because it might break old code. Every few months, someone suggests replacing Perl's garbage collector with a more modern one, but there are always objections from people who have written code that assumes that the garbage collector will always be reference-count based and that it can control when objects will be destructed."

"Technically, there's not very much "wiggle room" in the source code, because the internals are so convoluted and difficult. And there's not much "wiggle room" in the language itself, because of the need to support ten-year-old Perl 2 code."

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