Christmas Perl

Perl 5.10 is released

I’ve been using the scripting language, Perl, for many years. From about 1989, in fact, when version 3 adopted the GNU license. Prior to that I would resort to various Unix shell tools to do the dirty work. When version 5 appeared in 1996, I picked up my first copy of the Camel book and it has been with me ever since. I picked up Vromans’ pocket book in 1998 and that’s often the only book that travels with me in my laptop bag. Years have passed since version 5 was released, and it has gone through several incremental updates since, during which time there has been much talk of version 6. (Still no sign of that project being finished.) Version 5.8 appeared in 2002, and more recently (2006) we got version 5.8.8.

But a week ago they finished work on version 5.10, a major update. There’s an ActiveState distribution too, which has been my implementation of choice for a long time.

There have been numerous improvements to the underlying engine, and a few new syntactic niceties. For example, there is now a switch statement (bye bye those “elsif” chains!), named captures in regex, variables that can persist between subroutine calls and more.

This will certainly improve some of the Perl code that I develop, but like all previous language updates there will be significant compatibility issues to consider. Generally the previous updates didn’t cause too much trouble, but the new constructs in 5.10 are just too tempting to avoid (who wouldn’t want to use a switch statement?) so I think compatibility could be more significant with the latest release.

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