Perl 5.12 Debuts as Open Source Language Progresses

This week, Perl is getting an update that will advance the open source development language with new capabilities. With Perl 5.12, support is being added for pluggable keywords, which could help to improve Perl developer efficiency.

According to a senior developer at ActiveState, the pluggable keyword mechanism hooks directly into the parser, so the mechanism allows the implementation of that keyword to define the syntax of the rest of the statement.

The new Perl 5.12 release comes at an interesting juncture for the Perl community as new user growth may be slowing down while development continues on Perl 6.

Since 1987, the Perl dynamic language has been around and Perl 5.0 appeared in 1994. Longevity is hallmark of Perl development, a feature that’s reinforced with a fix in Perl 5.12. Perl 5.12 includes a fix for a the year 2038 Unix flaw, which restricted Perl to show dates only up to the year 2038, at which point it would reset the calendar back to 1970.

Perl 6

The new Perl 5.12 release advances the Perl 5 platform, and the developers have been working on Perl 6 since 2004, and might will stretch out for years to come. According to Dubois, some people are tired of waiting for Perl 6, so the Perl 5 development effort is picking up again, hence the release of Perl 5.12.

There are currently a number of implementation efforts for Perl 6 underway, with Rakudo probably being the most prominent and advanced, Dubois said. In his opinion, it will still be many years before Perl 6 Rakudo could become a serious alternative to Perl 5 for most users.

Dubois said, it is hard to predict if this is ever going to happen or not. But Perl 5 users won’t have to wait for Perl 6 to get updated, as there is a plan in place for a new Perl 5 version next year.

With some more new features, the Perl 5.14 should be released in about one year.

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