August 2004

From: Jag Venugopal
Subject: When will Perl 6 ever get done?


What's your take on when Perl 6 will be ready for general use? Its beginning to look like a project with no end and no production release.


Hi Jag,

Your email was passed on to me, as editor. I've asked a number of Perl 6 designers and implementers, and gathered the following thoughts.

Related Reading

Perl 6 and Parrot Essentials
By Allison Randal, Dan Sugalski, Leopold Tötsch

The Perl 6 effort has come a long way since the July 2000 announcement that "the effort to write Perl 6 has begun in earnest," or the project roadmap that predicted "final design and language specification, October 2000," and "Beta release, July 2001." If we've learnt one thing since then, it's that making predictions about when Perl 6 will be released is very, very difficult.

There are many reasons for this. You said that Perl 6 is "beginning to look like a project with no end;" this is dead right--Perl 6 is just the next version of Perl, a project started over ten years ago and, we hope, with no end to its future. As Damian says, "Perl 5's first production release took the best part of a decade (counting from Perl 1), so if Perl 6 takes less than that I think we're doing okay."

As this implies, Perl 6 is something that we're working towards, and we have a pretty good starting point in Perl 5. We also have a good start in Parrot, the Perl 6 virtual machine, which will see a production release in October or November.

Because Perl 6 fits into the whole Perl development process, there's no hurry to get a 6.0.0 release out soon. And, indeed, when the developers are working completely on a voluntary basis, and with an industry slow to move to new technologies, there's no way to hurry up the process of development and acceptance anyway.

The plan is going to be to turn Perl 5 into Perl 6 steadily, over the course of many releases, just as happened with every release of Perl so far. Perl 5.10 is bringing in several Perl 6 features, and more will accrue as the Perl 5 series continues; at the same time, the Ponie Project (announced in July 2003) will move Perl 5 onto the Parrot VM.

But after the previous set of predictions, very few people I talked to were willing to commit to giving a definite timeline for a Perl 6 release. Damian, for instance, told me that Perl 6 is essentially ready right now thanks to the Perl6::* modules on CPAN, and that "there is merely no production release yet;" in a recent interview, Allison Randal, the project manager, estimated a Perl 6 alpha at "around two years away."

If, however, having Perl 6 available faster is a pressing need for you, more developers helping out would always be a welcome way of bringing a release closer!

Hope this helps,
Simon Cozens

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