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The Year in Perl, 2006

by brian_d_foy (Abbot)
on Apr 08, 2007 at 13:08 UTC ( #608894=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

[I started this a long time ago and got caught up in some other things. It's still not complete, but I figure the monks can fill in the rest. I'll update the original post if people have anything to add. I may have missed some things, and will be happy to add to this list any significant events. ]

Now that we're in 2007, past the holidays, and I've just finished Mastering Perl, I looked back into 2006 to see what happened in Perl. People proposed, discussed, and started on many things, but I limited my list to actual events or things that came to fruition and that had a community-wide interest. chromatic did this for The Year in Perl, 2005. Update: Also look ahead to The Year in Perl, 2007.

Perl 5

Perl 5 development continues in both its maintenance and development branches. The release history is noted in perlhist and the version changes are in perldelta.

In the stable branch (those with an even number in the minor release version, as in the 8 in Perl 5.8), pumpking Nicholas Clark released Perl 5.8.8-RC1, the first "release candidate" on January 20 and made it the official release on January 31. The previous release, Perl 5.8.7, was in May 2005, so 5.8.8 stuck to the rough schedule of a release every six months. Most notably, Perl 5.8.8 fixed a security problem with sprintf, which I discuss later. There was not another release of Perl in the stable branch during 2006.

Release Date Delta 5.8.0 2002-Jul-18 5.8.1 2003-Sep-25 1+ years 5.8.2 2003-Nov-05 < 6 months 5.8.3 2004-Jan-14 < 6 months 5.8.4 2004-Apr-21 < 6 months 5.8.5 2004-Jul-19 < 6 months 5.8.6 2004-Nov-27 < 6 months 5.8.7 2005-May-30 6+ months 5.8.8 2006-Jan-31 6+ months

On the experimental branch (those with an even odd number in the minor release version, as in the 9 in Perl 5.9), Rafael Garcia-Suarez released Perl 5.9.3 on January 28 and Perl 5.9.4 on August 15. It's likely that Perl 5.9.4 will be Perl 5.10.0, the next minor release in the stable branch. The Perl 5.9 branch includes several features from the development of Perl 6, including the defined-or operators (// and err), the switch-like given-when and foreach-when control structures, state variables, and the say keyword, among many others. Module::Build is a core module in Perl 5.9, a necessary step to the eventual elimination of ExtUtils::MakeMaker for Perl module installation. The regular expression engine is no longer recursive, leading to much better performance and the elimination of some pathologic cases that had severe memory consequences.

Adam Kennedy (using the handle Alias on use.perl) offered a bounty of a vertical meter of beer for anyone who could create a "Windows Perl installer that works and can install XS modules from CPAN normally, as we might expect from a Linux install". Camelpack, from Stephen Steneker (aka stennie) included a C compiler with the ActiveState's ActivePerl, and Carl Franks (aka fireartist) created Vanilla Perl, which "provides a Perl 5.8.8 distribution that is as close to the Perl core as possible, with a small set of upgraded versions of dual CPAN/core modules that have win32-specific fixes." Vanilla Perl gave way to Strawberry Perl, "to provide a more practical Win32 Perl release for experienced Perl developers to experiment and test the installation of various CPAN modules under Win32 conditions, and to provide a useful platform for experienced Perl developers to start doing real work."

Adam choose Stephen Steneker's Perl CamelPack as the winner of the vertical meter of beer, although Carl Franks's Vanilla Perl was a close second.

The interest in Perl for Windows motivated the creation of, a wiki for Perl users on Windows.

Security issues and resolutions

During 2006, Perl had two significant security problems. The first was disclosed on June 5 and involved a problem with ActiveState Perl in which users could create a file in the site/lib directory, thus affecting user programs. This bug only affected ActivePerl.

Perl 5.8.8, released on January 31, fixed a security problem with sprintf and Sys::Syslog discovered in Webmin used the syslog function and passed user data directly to format specificer of sprintf. This led to the discovery of a buffer overflow problem in Perl's sprintf. Since then, Sebastien Aperghis-Tramoni has been maintaining Sys::Syslog

Perl 6


  • Size of CPAN: XXX
  • Number of active contributors: XXX
  • Number of new modules: XXX
  • Number of updated modules: XXX
  • David Landgren takes over Crypt::SSLeay to fix some compilation issues. This module lets Perl talk SSL, so it's important to keep it working.
  • CPAN passes 10k distribution mark
  • David Golden (xdg) created CPAN::Reporter to integrate CPAN Testers with the While installing modules, can send the test results back to CPAN Testers.
  • Adam Kennedy (Alias) started using the Task::* namespace instead of Bundles to install groups of Perl modules. Since it looks like a normal perl distribution, it works with the standard CPAN tools. He explains everything in the Task documentation.

Major events

  • Jeffrey Thalhammer created Perl::Critic, based on Adam Kennedy's PPI. This module analyses Perl code and report violations of Damian Conway's Perl Best Practices.
  • Coverity scan results that Perl did much better than other measured open source projects for defect density. The numbers quickly changed as projects fixed the defects that the scan found (which doesn't mean they are defect free though).
  • Kwalitee - did domm start this in 2006? XXX
  • The Perl Foundation came up with Artistic License 2.0, which makes the terms of the original Artistic License more clear and readable.
  • Catalyst project change: XXX
  • ActiveState spun off from Sophos, which acquired it in 2003. Sophos wanted to concentrate on their threat management business while giving ActiveState the room to concentrate on their products.
  • Associação Portuguesa de Programadores de Perl - The Perl Mongers in Portugal banded together to create a Portuguese language Perl advocacy organization.


New Books

Updated Books


CMP Media officially stopped publishing The Perl Journal, and combined its archives with their "Lightweight Languages" section on their website. CMP took over The Perl Journal in 2001 after Earthweb went bust. Earthweb had purchased the magazine from Jon Orwant in 1999. The Perl Journal was briefly an inline supplement to SysAdmin Magazine until mid-2002, and then a web-only magazine as PDF files.

The Perl Review continued publishing quarterly issues, both in print and on the web.

Randal Schwartz continues to publish regular Perl columns in Linux Magazine and Unix Review.

Conferences and Workshops

Every month had a Perl conference or workshop, save for January, August, and October. If you remember any from then, let me know. I'm now keeping track of Perl events in the Perl community events as a Google calendar.


The Perl jobs board ( continues its upward trend in number of posts

---------------------------------------------------------------------- +-------------------- Year | Total | Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug S +ep Oct Nov Dec ------------------------------------------------------------------ +------------------------ 2001 | 280 | 0 2 8 21 40 34 33 29 +34 30 35 14 2002 | 413 | 34 33 35 16 45 26 37 46 +33 42 31 35 2003 | 560 | 43 36 56 56 21 39 44 64 +53 52 52 44 2004 | 949 | 75 58 78 88 74 88 82 87 +65 87 85 82 2005 | 1429 | 93 110 120 135 135 125 115 113 1 +06 132 144 101 2006 | 1857 | 164 138 157 151 166 153 140 176 1 +52 172 179 109 ------------------------------------------------------------------ +------------------------

Perl Community

  • Dave Cross passes Perl Mongers to Jay Hannah
  • The Perl Review started keeping track of all Perl community events as a Google calendar.
  • 2006 Catalyst Advent Calendar
  • Advent calendar
  • Nick-Ing Simmons passes away
  • Chicago Camel Adoption The Chicago Perl Mongers adopted the Bactrian camel at the Lincoln Park Zoo by pooling money to make a $500 donation. The London Perl Mongers were the first group to adopt a camel. In 2000, they sponsored the camel at the London Zoo.
  • 2006 White Camels.
    • Jay Hannah

      Jay Hannah keeps Perl Mongers user groups running. Perl Mongers started by providing free web hosting, domain names, mailing lists, and other central services to make it as easy as possible for new user groups to start and to attract Perl hackers in their area. The maintenance of these services has always been a thankless job, and the Perl community is fortunate that Jay Hannah keeps it working.

    • Josh McAdams

      Josh McAdams, the host of Perlcast and the organizer of the 2006 Yet Another Perl Conference in Chicago, has made quite the name for himself since he exploded into Perl community about two years ago when he was in Arkansas and started Perlcast, the first regular podcast about Perl. Since then, he’s interviewed Perl luminaries as well as people connected to the Perl community, re-vitalized the Chicago Perl Mongers, and has been an all-around nice guy.

    • Randal Schwartz

      Randal L. Schwartz has been involved with Perl since its early days, and the perl5porters picture David Adler displayed on the large screen next to the stage showed a much younger Randal alongside younger versions of Jarkko Hietaniemi, Gurusamy Sarathy, and Larry Wall (although some did not look much younger, prompting someone to loudly shout “Pudge looks the same!”). Randal has been a tireless advocate of Perl and the community of Perl, and his philosophy of giving back to the community is the epitome of the White Camel.

Perl Grants

The Perl Foundation

Thanks to Ovid, Perl Foundation Grants Secretary, for some of this information

Stonehenge Grants

Stonehenge Consulting Services awarded two "Rock Star" Grants in 2006:

  • Perlcast

    In 2004, after being a Perl programmer for a few years, Josh McAdams wanted to do more to contribute to the Perl community. Podcasting was just catching on at the time, but there wasn't a podcast dedicated specifically to Perl so in March 2005 he started his own. At first it was just him talking about Perl, but he quickly moved to interviewing people working in Perl. After he traveled to the 2005 YAPC::NA in Toronto to interview as many people as he could, Stonehenge offered him a Rock Star Grant to over his expenses for the 2006 O'Reilly Open Source Convention.

  • Rob Kinyon

    Rob Kinyon has been working in Perl and contributing to the community for several years. In 2006 he took over maintenance of the widely used DBM::Deep module, which provides easy-to-use data persistence in pure Perl. From working with Stonehenge on previous projects, Rob had mentioned several things he had planned to improve DBM::Deep, although he was short on time to work on them for free. In November 2006, Stonehenge awarded Rob a Rock Star Grant to spend two months working on DBM::Deep. He used his grant to re-write the DBM::Deep core and add transaction support to the module.

brian d foy <>
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Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: The Year in Perl, 2006
by cog (Parson) on Apr 08, 2007 at 13:35 UTC
    Dave Cross passes Perl Mongers to Jay Hannah

    Actually, Perl Mongers was passed to me O:-) Jay is still behind the trenches, yes, and he does a lot of work. Nevertheless, I'm the one with the responsibility of it now.

Re: The Year in Perl, 2006
by talexb (Canon) on Apr 09, 2007 at 00:08 UTC
      On the experimental branch (those with an even number in the minor release version, as in the 9 in Perl 5.9), ...

    You probably mean odd there, not even .. ;) Nice summary, thanks!

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

Re: The Year in Perl, 2006
by sgt (Deacon) on Apr 08, 2007 at 19:47 UTC

    thanks for a great review! I think that the latest perlcast talks about a new Perl Magazin (in german) $foo

    cheers --stephan
Re: The Year in Perl, 2006
by Scott7477 (Chaplain) on Apr 09, 2007 at 17:34 UTC
        You're right; immediately after posting, I realized my error and asked the NodeReaper to yank my post. But I guess they wanted all to see my error:|...
Re: The Year in Perl, 2006
by BooK (Curate) on Apr 11, 2007 at 15:19 UTC
Re: The Year in Perl, 2006
by webfiend (Vicar) on Apr 11, 2007 at 23:11 UTC

    Thanks for a great summary. It shines a light on all the things that have been going on, and makes a convenient rebuttal to anyone that tells you "Perl is dead."

    You mentioned that the next 5.9 release will probably be 5.10. Do you (or does anybody here) know how close we are to this event?

Re: The Year in Perl, 2006
by TomDLux (Vicar) on Apr 26, 2007 at 20:30 UTC

    A greast article, except for the reference to Wicked Cool Perl Scripts by Steve Oualline.

    I can only really receommend this book to people who want to write, as a demonstration of the errors to avoid, in particular, buggy code, bad coding habits, and trivial examples.


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