Perl 6 isn't Perl

namingversionsopinion Fri 6 September 2013

Until today I had thought of Perl 6 as the successor to Perl 5 that hadn't turned up. That the problem was mainly that it hadn't had a production-ready release yet, and there was no drive for one. But after watching a video of a Larry Wall talk, I realised that Perl 6 isn't the next version of Perl, it's a whole new language, inspired by Perl 5, amongst other things. Calling it Perl anything is not only a disservice to Perl 5, I think it's a disservice to Perl 6.

The name Perl has a lot of baggage, and that baggage (good and bad) has largely been earned by Perl 5 (and 1 through 4 of course, but the lion's share came from Perl 5). Perl 6 is so different from Perl 5, that I think it would be better served with a fresh new name.

The Perl wikipedia page says "Perl 6 and Perl 5 are distinct languages with a common ancestry". But calling them "Perl 5" and "Perl 6" says they're not distinct languages. To the lay reader it says they're different versions of the same language. If my son had been called Felix Jeremy Bowers (he nearly was, but he didn't get a middle name), then if I had a second son I wouldn't call him Felix somethingelse Bowers, not if I wanted them to be distinct people with a common ancestry.

I know this has been hashed to death, so try and suppress any desire to comment. I just felt like I had a minor moment of clarity this afternoon, and am writing this to help me arrange my thoughts.

In case you're wondering, it's all Dave Cross' fault. After reading his blog post, I watched one of Dave's lightning talks and ended up watching one of Larry's talks. Listening to it, I found myself thinking "that's not just Perl++, it's a whole other thing, that has a bit of Perl flavour, but an awful lot of other flavours too.


I've been having email with Aristotle, who said that his opinion on this subject had been changed by discussions at YAPC::EU this year. Tonight I'm going to watch the future perl versioning panel from Kiev.

If you were there, have you changed your mind on the Perl 6 / Perl 5 issue, in either direction?

Update 2

I watched the future perl versioning panel this evening, and was disappointed. BDFOY had it right. I just need to get on with my own projects.

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