YAPC::NA 2003 Day 1

by chromatic

Related link: http://yapc.kwiki.org/index.cgi?DayOne

Damian Conway lead off with half of his "What's New in Perl 6" talk (perhaps not the official title). As you'd expect, he got halfway through. Most discussion seemed to be related to Apocalypse 6. Presumably, there are other changes based on the not-yet-released Exegesis 6.

As you'd expect from a Damian talk, there were spots where people in the audience were frightened and other spots where they couldn't wait for Perl 6 to be released. I'm personally waiting for a map construct that can pull more than one scalar at a time.

Next up was David Wheeler, speaking about Bricolage, a Perl CMS that's received a lot of favorable press lately. At first, it seemed like just about every other CMS out there (and I've worked on and with a few), but about halfway through the talk I was sold.

The latest version added a couple of really nice features that make Bricolage much handier for editors. Filling out lots of little forms and textareas on a web page is painful, especially if you're not running a server instance on your local machine.

After the talk, David pointed out that Bricolage's publishing mechanism was designed to support synchronization between instances. I could run Bricolage on my laptop and "publish" to the live server. Very nice.

Up next (after a nice long lunch), Allison Randal discussed the Perl 6 design philosophy. There were initial similarities to my What I Hate About Your Programming Language. Piers Cawley pointed out that Larry has the amazing ability to mix and match from a bunch of different approaches to find the best solution. He said something like "it's like remembering something you've always known".

R. Geoffrey Avery
won a "Practical Utility" award from gnat for ExtUtils::ModuleMaker. If you're creating new modules that need to be distributed — whether publicly or not — you really ought to consider this module instead of h2xs. As Geoff expected to upload a new version of the module last night, a potential buglet caught my eye during his talk, so I worked up a patch during the next break. "Thanks, applied!"

Perl's full of lots of little nooks and crannies that work in one case but have been pushed into other places where they don't quite fit. Cooking can be messy if you don't wash the dishes as you go. It's nice to see things like ExtUtils::ModuleMaker and Module::Build that add new features and make the simple things easier and more difficult things possible.

Chris Winters then presented an interesting talk about generating Java code with Perl. The Pragmatic Programmers talk at some length about code generation in their book. It's well-worth considering in cases where you'd otherwise write a lot of boilerplate. (J2EE defines "boilerplate" in new ways. I hope to talk Chris into writing an article or two on his technique for ONJava.

After that, I caught the second half of another Damian talk, "Everyday Perl". It sounded a lot like another talk called "What's in Damian's ~/bin/". It wouldn't do to spoil the surprise but the moral of the story is "If you can automate a task in 30 minutes to remove frustration or to save yourself a minute a day, it'll pay off very soon".

After ending uncharacteristically early, Damian then returned to his Perl 6 talk for the morning, getting most of the way through changes to the regex system. There'll be more on this later in the week, I suspect.

Dinner-wise, I went out with some of the YAS people, including gnat, Allison, Kurt Demaagd, Adam Turoff, and Lisa Nyman. (Piers also came along.) There wasn't much YAS talk, but it was a good time anyway.

Back at the hotel, I did a bit of e-mail and a little hacking on one of my projects. It seemed the thing to do, though it was after 9 pm my time (oh, jet lag!) when I finally turned in for the night.

Tomorrow's highlights include the YAS auction and a screening of the new Matrix movie. See you then!