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November, 2003: Perl News


Perl Releases

Perl 5.8.1 is still hot from the oyster, but the language developers haven't taken a break—Nicholas Clark has posted the first release candidate for Perl 5.8.2 to CPAN (http://www.cpan.org/authors/id/N/ NW/NWCLARK/perl-5.8.2-RC1.tar.bz2). Perl 5.8.2 should restore binary compatibility with modules compiled under earlier versions. (Binary compatibility was broken in Perl 5.8.1 due to the new hash randomization security feature). Nicholas also asks testers to check "how scripts that hash large amounts of data behave," "whether OS X and Solaris build all XS modules correctly now," "is modperl still happy," "does PAR work smoothly," and whether it still builds on Windows, VMS, OS/2, and other platforms.

Also, Hugo van der Sanden has posted Perl 5.9.0—the first shoot of a new development branch—to http://www.cpan.org/authors/ id/H/HV/HVDS.

Sophos Acquires ActiveState

At the end of September (just after the October issue of TPJ was wrapped up), the antivirus company Sophos announced that it had bought ActiveState for $23 million. ActiveState has been focusing on the antispam arena since the release of its PerlMx mail filtering solution—later rebranded PureMessage—in May 2002; now Sophos PureMessage integrates the spam filters with Sophos' antivirus tools. However, Sophos has also stated that it "is committed to supporting and extending ActiveState's involvement in the open-source community. ActiveState's programming tools, language distributions, and support services will continue to be developed, supported, and marketed under the ActiveState name, in exactly the same way they have until now." ActiveState now operates as a division of Sophos, and all of the ActiveState employees have been retained.

Perl Foundation Grants Detailed

The Perl Foundation has released details of all its latest grants, except for the one awarded to Larry Wall. Pete Sergeant gets $4000 to work on a suite of RTF parsing modules, including RTF::Tokenizer, RTF::Parser, RTF::Reader, and RTF::TreeBuilder; he'll post updates to http://rtf.perl.org/. Daniel Grunblatt's $6000 grant will go toward porting the Parrot JIT to the IA-64 and HPPA architectures, and continuing its development on ARM, alpha, PPC, i386, and SPARC. Autrijus Tang will use his $2000 to focus on Slash, the content-management system that powers Slashdot and use.perl.org—he'll work on internationalization and ease of configuration. Lastly, Leopold Toetsch has been awarded $4000 to get the Parrot packfile code to support multiple code segments.

Perl Worldwide

Uriel Lizama has launched a new site at http://perlenespanol .baboonsoftware.com/historia/, and is busy adding Spanish-language Perl tutorials and forums. Meanwhile, "monsieur_champs" has created a new Perl Monks node (http://www.perlmonks.org/ index.pl?node_id=290138), indexing articles that have been translated to Portuguese. Lastly, the dates have been set for the 2004 YAPC North America conference, which will take place in Buffalo, NY, June 16-18 (see http://www.yapc.org/America/ for more details).

All Right Kid, You're In

German coder Edi Weitz has cooked up a utility for Linux and Windows called "The Regex Coach," which will graphically walk through and test Perl-compatible regular expressions. It can single-step through the regex's matching process, and shows which parts of a target string correspond to parts of the regular expression. It can also simulate Perl's split and s/// (substitution) operators, and will create a graphic of the regular expression's parse tree.

The Regex Coach is actually written in Lisp, using the Perl-compatible CL-PPCRE regex engine (also written by Weitz). It's free for private or noncommercial use, and Weitz adds: "If you're, say, just using The Regex Coach during your work hours to test regular expressions that's fine for me—you don't have to ask for a commercial license, just use it." You can download the program from http://www.weitz.de/regex-coach/.

eXtreme Perl

The Perl XP Training Project, launched by chromatic, aims to provide free training in "how Extreme Programming works, how to write tests in Perl, or how to contribute to multiuser programming projects"—and, incidentally, to get some real work done. In the project, chromatic takes the role of a customer and provides feature requests (or "story cards," in the XP world); each one is designed to be simple, requiring only an hour or two of work to implement. The developers get feedback and testing for their work, and a chance to ask questions and receive guidance; meanwhile, as their skills develop, they'll be put to work on practical tasks like the Phalanx project.

The project web site is http://xptrain.perl-cw.com/. chromatic writes: "It's okay if you're just getting started with XP, testing, writing modules, or Perl. As long as you're willing to try, to learn, and to accept and to learn from feedback, you're welcome. It's also okay if you can only contribute one story a week—or just one story ever."


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