If you don't do timely destruction, HowMany will return the wrong value.Well, no, not really. We'll return the right value, which is the number of not-dead objects. That the number is surprising to the programmer is arguably rather sub-optimal but not flat-out wrong. (Yes, I know I'm arguing twiddly bits here)
The class will have the option of forcing a sweep for dead objects if it so chooses, so there would be a fallback. Yes, this is definitely sub-optimal, and is just a variant on the weak-ref problem. (i.e. a hack of sorts to get around implementation issues)
However, it's not just the semantics you should worry about. Performance might depend on its as well. More than once I've written code where in the DESTROY method a file is closed (and hence, a lock on it is released). If the DESTROY no longer is timely, the semantics won't change - the program would still act correctly.I'm not sure that's much of a problem. The delay in destruction should be on the order of milliseconds under most circumstances. If that's an unacceptable delay, then odds are something more explicit than relying on automatic destruction is in order.
But the performance would no longer be acceptable, as other programs don't get their locks fast enough.
Perl 5 programs won't have as timely a DESTROY as they do running on the perl 5 engine. Optionally forcing DESTROY checks at block boundaries will be doable, and I suppose we can optionally force it at statement boundaries, though that will be slow.You can install block-exit handlers, including in your caller's block, so you don't have to play DESTROY games to get lexical exit actions.That's nice of newly written perl6 programs. But what about perl5 programs running in a perl6 environment? Or just a perl5 module used from a perl6 program? Will they have timely DESTROY?
This only applies within a running parrot program of course--we're not in a position to affect the behaviour of other programs. It's only when there's a potentially recoverable resource allocation within a program that we can do this. Locks, for example, can be tried in non-blocking mode and, if that fails, a GC sweep can be done and the lock retried in blocking mode to wait on other programs that might have it allocated. File open failures due to a lack of filehandles can similarly be tried, a GC run tried, then retried and only then throwing an exception if there are still no filehandles.Allocation failure (for example running out of filehandles) will trigger a GC sweep and retry of the failing operation, so your program won't run out of things for lack of timely cleanup.Could you elaborate on that? If program1 (not necessarely written in Perl) has an allocation failure because program2 (written in Perl) hasn't done a GC sweep yet, how's that going to trigger a GC sweep in program2?
Java's unpredictable GC is already giving lots of people a headache when dealing with long running Java programs. It would be a pity if Perl goes that way too.Could you elaborate on this? There are always tradeoffs when making choices, and cleaner/faster internals and no worries about circular garbage is the tradeoff for guaranteed destruction timing. If there are more serious ramifications, it'd be good to know so we can take steps to ameliorate them.