At least one of you was a little miffed at something I said in last week's post about dynamic languages and virtual machines, and there was probably more than one of you, so I thought it would only be fair to air the issue in the open. Specifically, on the subject of Perl 6, I declared, "some would say it has officially graduated to vaporware status."
First, I should apologize. Weasel words like "some would say" and "many believe" are the crutches of lazy journalists everywhere, and I shouldn't have fallen back on such phrasing. Let me come clean, then, and confess that the "some" includes me, and from here on, I speak for myself. Perl 6, in my opinion, is pretty much vaporware.
As I said, however, not everyone agrees. (I'll leave it to someone else to decide whether the dissenting base consists of "some" or "many" people.) Reader "chromatic," a longtime contributor to the Perl codebase and the online managing editor of O'Reilly Media, weighs in:
I believe anyone who considers Perl 6 or Parrot to be "vaporware" has not bothered to look at the project or ask anyone involved with it about its current state. It's a small nit in an otherwise correct article, but it's a glaring nit.
As far as I've always heard, "vaporware" meant "a project, long promised by marketing, which doesn't actually exist." For that to be true of Perl 6, we'd have to have a marketing department (which we don't) and Perl 6 would have to not exist (which it does).
At this point, I should own up some more. I admit that I am not as in-tune with the Perl community as I once was. Years ago, back when I wrote more lines of code than sentences, I hacked out my share of incredibly functional Perl scripts and CGIs. I've since recanted. I've gone over to the camp that says Perl's loose C-like syntax encourages bad habits and results in maintenance-proof code, and I now think that Python is a better choice.
That said, I also have a hunch that a lot of professional developers are starting to agree with me. I don't hear much about large organizations -- such as Google, for example, or Oracle -- doing much with Perl. But here chromatic takes issue again:
How about Oracle (ships Perl), IBM (ships Perl), Microsoft (used in several build systems), Amazon (entire front end written in Perl), Morgan Stanley (heck, most of Wall Street, most of London's financial institutions)....?
Amazon's front end written in Perl? I'll take his word for it. But that's Perl 5; Perl 6 is another story.