Chapter 66. How to Improve Perl

Nathan Torkington

This article explains how Perl development takes place, ending with some suggestions for people wishing to become bona fide porters. Perl 6 is on the distant horizon as this book goes to press, and when it becomes reality you can expect that most of the URLs and mailing lists I mention here will change. Nevertheless, the broader concepts underlying internals hacking—the principles and procedures behind improving Perl—will still apply.

The perl5-porters mailing list is where the Perl standard distribution is maintained and developed. The list gets anywhere from 10 to 150 messages a day, depending on the heatedness of the debate. Most days there are two or three patches, extensions, features, or bugs being discussed at a time. A searchable archive of the list is at

List subscribers (the porters themselves) come in several flavors. Some are quiet, curious lurkers, who rarely pitch in and instead watch the ongoing development to ensure they’re forewarned of new changes or features in Perl. Some subscribers represent vendors, and are there to make sure that Perl continues to compile and work on the vendors’ platforms. Some subscribers patch any reported bug that they know how to fix, some are actively patching their pet area (threads, Win32, the regex engine), and others seem to do nothing but complain. In other words, it’s your usual mix of technical people.

Over this group of porters ...

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