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Thu, 12 Nov 2009

Is Perl 6 really Perl?


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A few days ago masak blogged about the social aspect of the is Perl 6 really Perl? question.

He presumes that the answer is yes, but doesn't tell us why. I'll try to give some reasons.

Perl 6 started as the successor to Perl 5

Perl 6 started off as the successor to Perl 5, at a Perl 5 meeting, by the Perl crowd. It was a plan to escape both the backwards compatibility trap (which meant that broken things couldn't be fixed without many people yelling), and the lack of momentum in the community.

Perl 6 embraces the Perl philosophy

What makes Perl Perl? In my opinion it's not the sigils on variables that make Perl Perl, or that writing a regex only need two characters and so on. It's mostly the philosophy that makes the difference.

There are some underlying principles like TIMTOWTDI, context sensitivity, convenience over consistency, making simple things easy and hard things possible, often used constructs short and less frequent things longer, and so on.

Perl 6 is founded on all those philosophies and ideals, and also shares some technical principles. For example sigils on variables (oh, I mentioned them already ...), easy access to powerful regexes, that fact that operations coerce their arguments (instead of the type of arguments determining the operation like in javascript, where a + can either mean addition or string concatenation).

So if you agree with my definition of what makes Perl Perl, Perl 6 is also Perl. If not, please tell me what's the essence of Perl!

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