In a recent post to the Perl 5 Porters mailing list, Yves Orton argued that it’s time to debunk the myth that Perl 5 is dying.
From Yves message:
We need to make it clear that Perl 5 is not dead, not sleeping, and not going anywhere.
Or somebody needs to tell me that all of this is wrong and where to go for Perl 5s funeral.
Certainly Perl 6 is taking a while (but by my back-of-the-envelope calculation, all of the developers working on Windows Vista waste, in a week, more time reading e-mail than there has been paid development time on Perl 6 — though not quite by an order of magnitude).
Since the initial Perl 6 announcement, I count around ten stable releases of Perl 5 and four development releases. CPAN has continued to explode. Larger projects such as Jifty and Catalyst and RT are attracting more and more users and developers.
Perl 5.10 is on its way and includes some amazing features, both user visible and otherwise. Some of these features are backports from Perl 6 — static variables, the defined-or operator, smart match,
DOES(), and more. Many are refinements and improvements, including Yves’ own work adding optimizations to the regex engine, much improved source code organization and optimizations, and far fewer bugs and memory leaks. Various projects such as PAR, Vanilla/Strawberry Perl, and P5NCI are big hairy audacious attempts to make Perl applications and distributions easier to install and use.
It’s true that Perl 6 will change things, but if Perl 5 suddenly went away tomorrow the world of technology would be far, far poorer. Perhaps Perl 5 is a mature product, well-established as infrastructure, and easy to take for granted. Perl 6 is the shiny new soon, but Perl 5 — and especially the upcoming Perl 5.10 — are by no means standing still.