Today the Perl Foundation announces the release of Perl 5.10, the
first major upgrade to the wildly popular dynamic programming
language in over five years. This latest version builds on the
successful 5.8.x series by adding powerful new language features
and improving the Perl interpreter itself. The Perl development
team, called the Perl Porters, has taken features and inspiration
from the ambitious Perl 6
project, as well as from chiefly academic languages and blended
them with Perl's pragmatic view to practicality and usefulness.
Significant new language features
The most exciting change is the new smart match operator.
It implements a new kind of
comparison, the specifics of which are contextual based on the
inputs to the operator. For example, to find if scalar $needle is in array @haystack,
simply use the new ~~ operator:
if ( $needle ~~ @haystack ) ...
The result is that all comparisons now
just Do The Right Thing, a hallmark of Perl programming.
Building on the smart-match operator, Perl finally gets a
switch statement, and it goes far beyond the kind
of traditional switch statement found in languages like
C, C++ and Java.
Regular expressions are now far more powerful. Programmers
can now use named captures in regular expressions, rather than counting parentheses for
positional captures. Perl 5.10 also supports recursive patterns,
making many useful constructs, especially in parsing, now possible.
Even with these new features, the regular expression engine has
been tweaked, tuned and sped up in many cases.
Other improvements include state variables that allow variables to
persist between calls to subroutines; user defined pragmata that
allow users to write modules to influence the way Perl behaves; a
defined-or operator; field hashes for inside-out objects and
better error messages.
It's not just language changes. The Perl interpreter itself is
faster with a smaller memory footprint, and has several UTF-8 and
threading improvements. The Perl installation is now
relocatable, a blessing for systems administrators and operating
system packagers. The source code is more portable, and of course many
small bugs have been fixed along the way. It all adds up to the best
For a list of all changes in Perl 5.10, see Perl 5.10's perldelta document included
with the source distribution. For a gentler introduction of just the high points, the slides for
Ricardo Signes' Perl 5.10 For People Who Aren't Totally Insane talk are well worth reading.
Don't think that the Perl Porters are resting on their laurels.
As Rafael Garcia-Suarez, the release manager for Perl 5.10, said:
"I would like to thank every one of the Perl Porters for their
efforts. I hope we'll all be proud of what Perl is becoming, and
ready to get back to the keyboard for 5.12."
Where to get Perl
Perl is a standard feature in almost every operating system today
except Windows. Users who don't want to wait for their operating
system vendor to release a package can dig into Perl 5.10 by
downloading it from CPAN, the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network,
or from the Perl home page at www.perl.org.
Windows users can also take advantage of the power of Perl by
compiling a source distribution from CPAN, or downloading one of
two easily installed binary distributions.
Strawberry Perl is a community-built
binary distribution for Windows, and
ActiveState's distribution is
free but commercially-maintained. ActiveState's distribution is available now, and Strawberry Perl's is imminent.
For questions, contact Perl Foundation Public Relations at
Perl is a dynamic programming language created by Larry Wall and
first released in 1987. Perl borrows features from a variety of
other languages including C, shell scripting (sh), AWK, sed and
Lisp. It is distributed with practically every version of Unix
available and runs on a huge number of platforms, as diverse as
Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, z/OS, os400, QNX and Symbian.
email: [email protected]
Rafael Garcia-Suarez is a French software engineer who lives in Paris,
France, and who is currently employed by Booking.com. He has been a
contributor to Perl for many years and has stewarded the birth of
Perl 5.10 for the last few.
The Perl Foundation
The Perl Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of the Perl
programming language through open discussion, collaboration, design,
and code. It is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization incorporated
in Holland, Michigan, USA in 2000.