Ovid | 6 Feb 16:22 2013

Perl 7 or Perl 2013?

Hi all,

No worries: I have my asbestos undies on for responses to this post: http://blogs.perl.org/users/ovid/2013/02/perl-7.html

In that I asked about the pros and cons of renaming Perl 5 to Perl 7. Toby Inkster suggested Perl 2013 (and so on).

The rationale, as cut-n-drooled from a comment I made there:

I just got back from FOSDEM and heard, again, for the umpteenth time, that since Perl had 4 "major" releases (1,2,3,4) in its first few years and hasn't had a major release since Perl 5 about 20 years ago, it's clearly "dead". I hear this every time I go to a conference that's not dedicated to Perl.

Now many of you see the glaring flaw in the above: version numbers mean nothing. Perl went from version 3 to version 4 mostly to help out a book and the Linux kernel went from 2.6 to 3.0 to celebrate an anniversary. So while version numbers may not have an intrinsic meaning, they have a huge impact on perception. With so many other languages have major version upgrades and Perl "languishing" at Perl 5 for two decades, the perception is that it's stagnant. And remember, the Perl 6 project was conceived when Perl 5 was only 7 years old. (Even Python has gone from 2 to 3 and with Django getting Python 3 support, that split is going to heal).

Meanwhile, in the minds of, oh, virtually every developer on the planet who's not in our echo chamber, Perl 6 is, logically, the successor to Perl 5. Since even Duke Nukem Forever managed to get released prior to Perl 6, Perl 6 just isn't being taken too seriously by many devs. In other words, they think Perl 5 is dying and its successor is DOA. Thus, there is no future for Perl, QED.

Since Perl 6 appears to be staying named Perl 6, why not skip the entire debate and rename Perl 5 to Perl 7? Perl 6 will likely get renamed PDQ, there will be huge amounts of press over this (much of it pretty ugly) and we can finally put to rest the silly "no major release" argument.

Perception matters and this could be (to the outside world) the single biggest shakeup to Perl in years.