Sebastopol, CA--Perl programmers anticipate the release of Perl 6 with both excitement and dread. Excitement, because it will infuse their well loved but aging language with a new life, and dread because much of what they've learned will have to be relearned. In spite of Perl's many strengths, certain elements of its original hacking-community nature have hindered its evolution, creating a high barrier of entry for newcomers who might want to contribute and making it difficult for sweeping changes in the language to take place. Moreover, the basic core module no longer reflects how most users expect to use Perl out of the box, lacking support for databases, HTML, XML, and other basic features that many new users would expect to find. So, change is due. And, while the anything-goes creative philosophy and good-humored fun of Perl are sure to remain, everything else in the language is being re-examined, picked apart, and recreated.
Perl 6 Essentials by Allison Randal, Dan Sugalski, and Leopold Totsch (O'Reilly, US $24.95) offers a sneak preview of Perl 6, covering the development of Perl 6 syntax as well as Parrot, the language-independent virtual machine developed as part of the Perl 6 design strategy. Written by members of the Perl 6 core development team, the book looks at each of the various stages of the project, with reference material for programmers who are interested in the planned changes or who want to contribute to the project. The book will satisfy their curiousity and show how the changes in the language will make Perl more powerful and easier to use.
"We're about midway through the Perl 6 project right now," says coauthor Randal. "There's a lot of interest in the subject, but no usable product. People want to know what the language will be like, so they can prepare for the changes. They want to know the inner workings of the project so they can make meaningful contributions. 'Perl 6 Essentials' explains what's knowable about Perl 6 right now."
"Perl 6 Essentials" begins with a high-level overview of the Perl 6 project, along with some history of why and how the project was started. Then, it goes on to provide more detail on the life cycles in the project, with information on how programmers can get involved themselves. Other topics include:
the principles behind Perl 6 design work
an introduction to Perl 6 syntax
a look at the overall architecture of Parrot
an introduction to Parrot assembly language
an introduction to Parrot's Intermediate Code Compiler
"Perl 6 Essentials" is the only book to provide an in-depth look at the development of the new Perl language while it's still in flux. This book is essential reading for anyone committed to the Perl community.
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