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Perl 6 Essentials
by Allison Randal, Dan Sugalski, and Leopold Totsch
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The thing about Perl 6 is: It's a work in progress. However, the end product--which may not be out for a couple of years--will represent such a foundation shift in the state of the Perl art that it's a good idea to keep up with advances in the development process as they occur. Perl 6 Essentials, which is intended to be reissued several times during Perl 6 development, aims to keep working Perl users informed of architectural decisions, feature additions, syntactic changes, and community developments as they occur. The idea is that if you keep up with the Perl 6 Essentials series, you'll be ready to go when the final release appears--if you're not inspired to join the development effort first.
A jaded software developer, having seen too many insubstantial "advance" books rushed to press just so they can be the only books available on their topic for a while, might be suspicious of this book. Such suspicion is not borne out by the contents of Perl 6 Essentials, which are valuable. Though thin, this book is dense with information and well worth its modest cover price. The authors clearly explain what's new (so far) in Perl 6, and do an excellent job of explaining the new Parrot virtual machine architecture. There's extensive coverage of Parrot assembly language (PASM), more than enough for you to do some significant exploratory programming with it. The authors have a good sense of what Perl developers want to know about their future working environment, and satisfy that demand. --David Wall
Topics covered: The state of the Perl 6 development effort through Apocalypse 6 (a development milestone) and the Parrot virtual machine through version 0.0.10. The most valuable coverage is of Parrot and its assembly language (PASM). Changes in Perl features and syntax get lots of attention, as well.
Although Perl remains a vibrant language with a fiercely loyal following, it has undergone many changes to keep up with new technologies and applications that were not anticipated when Perl was first introduced in 1987. Through its community-based development model, Perl has kept up with changing times and remained fresh when other languages might have stagnated.
Internally, however, there have remained kinks and stumbling blocks that developers have needed to sidestep, long-abandoned features that have been maintained only for backwards compatibility, misdirected phrasings that have hindered more intuitive syntax structures, and a cacophony of modules that sometimes work well together, but occasionally don't. Perl continues to have a strong following devoted to its development, but in the meantime, a group of core Perl developers have begun working on Perl 6, a complete rewrite of the Perl language. While Perl's creative philosophy and common-sense syntax are sure to remain in Perl 6, everything else in the language is being re-examined and recreated.
Perl 6 Essentials provides an overview of the current state of Perl 6 for those who await its release. Written by members of the Perl 6 core development team, the book offers an explanation of the various stages of the project, with reference material for programmers who are interested in what changes are planned or who may want to contribute to the project. The book will satisfy their curiosity and show how changes in the language will make it more powerful and easier to use.
Perl 6 Essentials is the first book that offers a peek into the next major version of the Perl language. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of Perl.
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