On Raku (Again)

But before going on that, I would like to thank Zoffix Znet for all of the work he’s done for Perl, Perl 6 in particular and lately to get the 6.d language release of Perl 6 out of the door. Something he has worked on for almost 1.5 year, ever since he posted a blog about the Hot New Language Named Rakudo (Reddit comments).

But that’s not the only thing he’s written about. In total he’s written 66 blogposts in roughly the past 2 years. That’s more than one every two weeks on average. And all about Perl 6!

… it’s things like these that make me enjoy programming in Perl 6. It’s this that makes me feel—once again—the wonder I experienced 16 years ago, when I wrote my first program…

Zoffix, thank you for reminding me about that. It’s a feeling that I still get, although not as often as before, I must admit. But that is also the sensation that I am going for. We may not agree on the naming issue, and possibly some other minor issues, but I think you’ve made Perl 6 better than it was before. And I am thankful for that. Zoffix++

About habits

Kicking the habit of programming in pursuit for that “wonder” feeling is hard. But possible.

Another habit that is hard to break, is to meet up with people in real life that share your interests in Perl. Those gatherings are fun to do, and a good break away from life behind the keyboard. But such a habit can also be broken. One will just have to arrange to meet people you like without needing a Perl event.

And here I am seriously considering just to do that: leave Perl (in all its forms) and focus on something else that will have a bigger amount of fun. At this point in time, this includes a lot of potential activities.  But I digress.

World View

My view of the Perl world has been formed by many different experiences. First by Perl 4 when trying to start up a web development company in 1994. Secondly by a pretty buggy and slow Perl 5 from 1995 and onwards. Thirdly by going to Perl Monger Meetings, and then organizing them. From there on to organizing Perl one-day workshops and multi-day Perl conferences with more than 300 people attending. Followed by an 8 year hiatus while being busy helping to grow a company from 35 people to 5000 using Perl 5, instead of Java that was recommended by the new owners. And succeeding because Perl 5 is the right tool to use in a very dynamic environment. Then, gradually easing into talking to strangers at generic open source events such as T-DOSE, FOSDEM, OSCON. From strangers that just drop by to scream “Perl should die” (just a single one, but a repeat offender). To strangers that tell you they’re happy to see Perl still alive, that they miss Perl, having to program in another language for a living, and that they’re looking forward to the moment that they once again will be able to pick up Perl where they left off.

These people are not typically very verbal in online forums. But like everybody else nowadays, follow blogs and online news sources. It’s from them that I know that the “sister language” narrative is something that really only has meaning inside the Perl echo chamber. Outside of it, people are generally interested in new and fun things to do. And Perl 6 is just that for an increasing number of people.

That is my world view. Which does not include any managers discarding Perl on the grounds of the name or perceived status. Simply because I have never had to deal with that. You could argue that I have been extremely lucky in my life. Perhaps. But I also think you need to force your luck in life by being diligent, by being assertive and by being able to explain why things didn’t work out the way they were planned. Even to managers. And make clear to people that programming is in fact a creative profession, which requires practice, practice, practice, practice and a little inspiration. And a certain stubborness, specifically when explaining things to people that do not understand.

Back to Raku

It is for these reasons that I have decided to stand by my proposal from my previous blog post which I will reiterate here:

  • any mention of “Raku” should be removed from all Perl 6 marketing materials
  • any mention of “Raku” should be removed from all Perl 6 documentation
  • a separate “Raku” distribution (a la Rakudo Star) should be made
    • in which all mentions to Perl 6 are automatically changed to “Raku”
  • people marketing “Raku” need only concern themselves with “Raku”
    • and are free to do so in any which way they seem fit

This is the basic idea. People with a Perl 5 background will have a genuine chance that Perl 6 will disappear from their life should “Raku” become the success outside of the current Perl community that everybody wants for the programming language that Perl 6 is.

I hope that either Larry Wall (as BDFL), or Jonathan Worthington (the current Perl 6 pumpkin) will want to express their opinion about this idea. Until I hear otherwise from them, I will continue as if my proposal has been accepted. And if I do hear otherwise from either of them, then I will need to take that fact of life under advisement.

(and yes, that 1.5x improvement for hyper operators is now in core).

Winding down

Until then, I intend to publish a Perl 6 Weekly again next Monday, and continue on a weekly schedule afterwards.

I intend to write up an impartial as possible review of the discussions about “Raku” of the past 10 days or so.

Because it is the Perl 6 Weekly, that will most likely be the last time I mention “Raku” in the Perl 6 Weekly.

Elizabeth Mattijsen

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