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August, 2004: Perl News

By Shannon Cochran


If you had a sense of deja-vu reading last month's Perl News, you aren't crazy. Due to a version-control mix up, the July 2004 Perl News was a reprise of the July 2003 Perl News. Our apologies.

—Ed.

White Camel Awardees Announced

The sixth annual White Camel Awards were bestowed on three "unsung heros of the Perl community" at the 2004 O'Reilly Open Source Convention. brian d foy, who started the White Camel tradition in 1999, takes his turn as a recipient this year, honored for—in addition to founding the Perl Mongers and publishing The Perl Review—his service in Iraq, where he managed to maintain Perl modules despite frequent lack of electricity and Internet access. Dave Cross, who started the first non-North American Perl Mongers group (London.pm) and now oversees the Perl Mongers groups worldwide, was also recognized this year. And finally, we at TPJ especially congratulate Jon Orwant, the original editor and publisher of The Perl Journal, on his White Camel award. Previous winners are listed at http://www.perl.org/advocacy/white_camel/.

The Value of Pie

Also at OSCON, Dan Sugalski did eventually take a pie in the face over his bet with Guido van Rossum that Python bytecode could be made to run faster on Parrot than it does in CPython. By the time the bet's deadline came due, the Parrot implementation—IronPython—was only complete enough to run four out of seven benchmarks, though it did beat CPython in three of those four benchmarks. Guido, in a gentlemanly fashion, declined the opportunity to pie Dan—much to the disappointment of the Perl crowd, which was howling for, if not blood, at least tasty whipped topping. Honor was satisfied on all sides when Dan agreed to auction off his own pie-ing at The Perl Foundation's fundraiser. A $520 bid was mustered, and Guido received satsifaction: pictorial evidence is archived at http://www.oreillynet.com/oscon2004/friday/Pages/Dan_ Sugalski-1.html, and Dan's own account of the escapade is at http://www.sidhe.org/~dan/blog/archives/000372.html.

IronPython development continues (see http://ironpython .com/) and Dan summarizes: "Getting Python going on Parrot has definitely been very useful. Besides shaking out some implementation issues (we may well be able to speed up our sub/method calls a lot because of this) it's been really useful in pointing out some areas we were weak in (like slices) and got us a good chunk of experience doing bytecode translation. All in all I'm glad we did it, and I think we'll have something pretty useful when we're done."

Perl Projects Progress

Development continues on Ponie, the Perl 5 interpreter rewritten to run on Parrot. Nicholas Clark has released Snapshot 3 of Ponie (http://opensource.fotango.com/~nclark/ponie-3.tar.bz2), demonstrating that "with this release the C type of the Perl core's data pointer, SV *, is actually PMC *, the C type of Parrot's data pointer." The Ponie project is funded by Fotango, a consultancy group based in London, and is intended to help companies transition from Perl 5 to Perl 6.

Perl 5.8.5, the fifth maintenance release of Perl 5.8, is now available from CPAN. The core enhancements as described in the perldelta: "Perl's regular expression engine now contains support for matching on the intersection of two Unicode character classes. You can also now refer to user-defined character classes from within other user defined character classes." Also, "The debugger can now emulate stepping backwards, by restarting and rerunning all bar the last command from a saved command history."

Patrick Michaud has been installed as the Perl 6 compiler pumpking, charged with "making the Perl 6 compiler happen" while Larry Wall concentrates on language design and Dan Sugalski handles the interpreter engine. Talk continues, as it has for a year, about forming a new parrot-compilers list, and Dan suggests renaming the perl6-internals list to parrot-internals. There may also eventually be a third list, parrot-library.

Upcoming Events

A call for venues has been issued for YAPC::NA::2005; submissions are due by August 31st, with a decision tentatively scheduled for September 15th. For the first time, the YAPC Conference Committee has revealed the method by which it evaluates prospective venues; a scoring system is used that gives different weights to each of ten categories. The quality of the facilities, along with Internet access from both the conference location and the accomodations, are the most important considerations, closely followed by questions of cost. The scoring system also gives a bonus to new locations. You can see the full criteria at http://yapc.org/yapc-crit.txt, and the venue requirements are detailed at http://www.yapc.org/venue-reqs.txt. Venue proposals should be e-mailed to yapc-venues@yetanother.org.

In other conference news worldwide, the first Brazilian Perl Users Meeting will take place October 18-20 at the Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), under the auspices of the "2a Semana de Software Livre do Rio de Janeiro": See http://brasil.pm.org/. Also, the Hungarian Perl Mongers are hosting a "biannual Micro Workshop" on August 28th in Budapest; http://www.perl.org.hu/ english/ has the details in English.


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