Perl 6 to Make Debut in August

SINGAPORE (03/24/2000) - A completely-rewritten version of the popular Web scripting language Perl will be shown in August at the Perl Developers' Conference 4, according to Chip Salzenburg, board member of the Open Source Initiative and principal developer of Perl 6.

The product is being developed under the name Topaz and will not be accorded the designation Perl 6 until it is approved by Perl's inventor Larry Wall, Salzenburg said here today at LinuxWorld 2000.

The Perl language is used by Web developers to create dynamically-generated web pages using CGI (common gateway interface) scripts. It is also extensively used by system administrators in the Unix world, and those using Web servers such as Apache, for managing their systems.

The current version, Perl 5, is written in C, and Perl 6 is a ground-up rewrite using the object-oriented C++ language. The rewrite will make Perl much easier to maintain and easier to add new features to, as the core that has evolved into Perl 5 has become extremely complicated, Salzenburg said.

"Perl 6 will be flexible and easy to maintain," he said. "We think that programmers' time can be better spent doing other things than maintaining Perl."

Perl 6 will adhere to the International Standards Organization's (ISO) standard for C++ projects, and will be as portable between systems as Perl 5 currently is. It will support the Windows operating system as well as Unix and Linux, but will probably not adhere to the standards used by Microsoft Corp.'s Visual C++ product which "leaves a lot to be desired", Salzenburg said.

Perl 6 will continue the Perl tradition of being completely open-source and will make use of Inprise/Borland Corp.'s free C++ 5.5 Compiler and related command-line tools, according to Salzenburg.

Overall, the project should enable developers to get more out of Perl, Salzenburg said.

"Millions of users now depend on Perl," he said. "Bandwidth and computing power are cheap, but skilled programmers are expensive."

Perl is likely to remain a coalface developers' tool rather than a mainstream applications development tool. It lacks the end-user presentation abilities found in products such as Visual Basic, and only one company, Sunnyvale, California-based SolutionSoft, has released an IDE (integrated development environment) for Perl.

This is partly a reflection of Perl's open-source origins, and partly because serious Perl developers might find using an IDE limiting, Salzenburg said.

"The people who use IDEs tend to be those who haven't taken the trouble to learn enough about their product," he said.

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