Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Perl - the way ahead

Wow! I've just been knocked off my feet.

I'm at YAPC::Europe (Yet Another Perl Conference) in Riga, and just listened to the vision for Perl 5's future. Jesse Vincent is the Perl 5 Pumpking, essentially the project manager. His vision is to evolve Perl 5 into a modern language (he did not use those words, but that's the gist).

Old Perl is 5.14, the current stable release. The idea is to introduce changes, like a fixed smartmatch, and deprecate the stuff that was preventing Perl 5 from moving forward because of the need for backward compatibility. Backward compatibility in the future will be provided by stating which version of Perl we should use - but still complete backward compatibility will not be guaranteed.

By moving platform specific features out of the base and into modules (as in Python), the base gets to be small and easier to maintain, and maybe even faster. Deprecating features then removing them should have the same effect.

What a shame this was not decided on ten years ago, still, better late than never. There will be issues with CPAN. Modules are usually only maintained for one version, the current stable one if you are lucky. Backward compatibility will be an issue with modules. The 'use version' directive (hopefully) will be lexical, so modules will be able to run on a later release (mostly, maybe). But of course they won't be able to run on an earlier release - but we have that issue right now. CPAN will need to search/tag/group modules by base release, that should not be hard, but it needs to be done before the issues arise at 5.16.

So where does that leave Perl 6? Perl 6 is not dead, but rather it takes the pressure off it. Most people (me included) looked to Perl 6 for the future, and all the smart stuff that's in Python that I can't do in Perl. No longer. Perl 5 will move forward, alongside its sister language. The possibility of Perl 5 overtaking Perl 6 was not discussed.

The times, they are a-changing.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Installing Python 3.2 Tkinter on Linux

A quick note for the install. Tkinter is not installed by default with Python 3.2 on Linux unless the tk development pack is installed. Where that is documented I could not say.

On Red Hat derived distributions this would be using (under user root):
yum install tk-devel
Make sure you do this before building Python. It is required for idle, which is named idle3 (and that is not obvious either).