Yet Another Perl Conference finishes

by Simon Cozens

If, like me, you weren't able to make it to YAPC::America::North, by far the best way to keep in touch with the conference developments has been to read the journals about it on Use Perl and listen to the recordings of the talks. There's a lot to download, but it's a seriously cool resource for those of us who didn't manage to make it to the conference. (Incidentally, thanks to Gnat for recording the talks.)


As you might expect, the major focus of the conference has been Perl 6. Damian's keynote explained the history of Perl 6, some of the decisions that have been taken already and gave us an overall sense of how the language is looking.
Damian's been a great influence on the language design of Perl 6, and a great help to me personally when I come to him with incessant inane questions about trivial points of syntax. :) There are very few people who can stand in for Larry in a presentation, but Damian did it wonderfully. Major points from the presentation:


  • Dot syntax for method is here to stay. Tough. Larry is not going to budge on this one.
  • You will love the new variable semantics, once you try them for a while and give them a chance. Trust me, I hated the idea at first until I tried it. Now I can't get used to programming Perl 5 again.
  • There will be a difference between variable properties - which are more correctly called "attributes" and mark a feature of the variable - and value properties, which are the things like $frog.color = "green" and are related to the current contents of $frog; that's to say, it's possible that at some point in the future, $frog might contain something that isn't green.
  • There won't necessarily be a difference between properties and methods; $frog.jump might call the jump method if $frog is blessed into a class which provides on, or return the jump property otherwise. (This is currently causing me many shades of grief.)


Today, there was a two hour "town meeting" on Perl 6, with Gnat explaining his views on how Perl 6 was progressing in terms of the social reconstruction of the Perl community. He explained specifically how Perl was a meritocracy, and how he wanted to structure the community in terms of the "democratic meritocracy" shown by things like the FreeBSD project.


Skud then spoke up to push the need for coding standards and porting of the standard Perl library to Perl 6. There'll be a modules BOF tomorrow where she'll expound on that, but her primary points where that now is the time to develop the Perl 6 standard library, and also the time for the development of a style guide for module design and interface. She also talked about mailing list behaviour and list-mom'ing.


The Parrot meme will not die... Neil Kandalgaonkar talked about embedding Python in Perl.


The other big feature was the "apprenticeship hour". This had people come along and discuss ideas in search of implementors. Gnat took the opportunity to launch his "Python Friendship Project", whereby we're all supposed to make friends with a Python hacker and show her that we're not all completely evil (well, most of us aren't) - and also realise that they're not completely evil either.
Of course, I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been recently hacking on Python and I've been really enjoying it. But this is what we should do - learn from Python, steal their cool points. Perl's all about assimilating what's psychologically intuitive from whatever language it may be.


Gnat also proposed a few Perl "killer apps" that people should work on. Brian and Neil from AS explained their idea for sharing binary distributions of CPAN modules - expect to hear more about that in the near future.


At perl.com, we'll be featuring a more detailed article about what went on in YAPC::America::North this year, from our very own O'Reilly Perl Hacker, Schuyler Erle, but I hope this little article has given you a taste of what's been going on. Oh, and don't forget to read those journals and listen to those MP3s!


Happy hacking!