Thoughts from an outsider

Randal L. Schwartz merlyn at
Wed Aug 30 14:30:56 UTC 2006

>>>>> "J" == J J <azreal1977 at> writes:

J> Perl is the classic case of a sense of loyalty taken too far.

Your opinion of Perl is interesting, and not uncommon.  But if you haven't
seen what we're doing with Perl6, you might be missing something.

The object system of Perl6 (and necessarily of the Parrot VM below it) borrows
a significant amount from Smalltalk and Self.  The designers are fans.  The
formal introspection and malleability of Perl6 will rival Smalltalk, and
that's a Good Thing.  The Parrot VM design is quite nice, and will allow a
CLR-style interoperability amongst many languages.  I'm hoping someone will
port Squeak to it, in fact.

One thing to keep in mind (considering VHS vs Beta, Windows vs Unix), is that
a "successful" item isn't necessarily the "best" item: it merely has to be
"good enough".  In that case, we can compare the number of applications today
running Perl vs running Smalltalk, and we see that Perl is "successful", and
Smalltalk a "failure", by that measure.

Personally, I had discovered Smalltalk in 1981, running on a Magnolia at Tek
where I had essentially unlimited access for two months.  And I've been
disappointed in nearly everything else ever since, and especially mad that
Steve Jobs took only the surface features of ST80 for the Mac, leaving the
elegant underpinnings as a discardable novelty.  I still rave about how in
1981, I could get a full source-code stacktrace of the running application
just by pressing a key, but that the backtrace was *live*, allowing full
inspection/edit and *continue*, some thing that still doesn't exist today.  In
1981.  On a 1 MHz processor.

But I had to make a living, so the theoretically cool gets tossed aside, and
the practical takes over.  I still dabble with Squeak, but I make my living
with Perl.

Maybe a future version of Squeak will be deemed "practical" enough to shake
the "smalltalk is slow" or "smalltalk is weird" syndrome to rival Perl6
(et. seq.).  That'd be great.

But I'm not holding my breath, or betting my company on it.  :)

Randal L. Schwartz - Stonehenge Consulting Services, Inc. - +1 503 777 0095
<merlyn at> <URL:>
Perl/Unix/security consulting, Technical writing, Comedy, etc. etc.
See for onsite and open-enrollment Perl training!

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