Rakudo Star, and where from here

After much hard work by a lot of people, Rakudo Star is here! I joined in with Rakudo development about two and a half years ago, and since then it’s been quite a ride. The rough story of how I got into Rakudo is that I drunk some amount of beer at a party at OSCON, and ended up expressing an interest in implementing junctions for what was then only known as “the Perl 6 compiler for Parrot”. Little did I know that implementing junctions fully would mean implementing multiple dispatch, which in turn depended on the type system, which in turn depended on OO. Spurred on by encouragement from the community, I decided that instead of running away screaming, I’d take a crack at them. I’m glad I stayed on. :-)

Rakudo Star is certainly a step on a journey rather than a destination, but I find a lot to be happy about in today’s release. The feature set delivers on a lot of the things Perl 6 has promised: Perl 6 grammars and regexes, multiple dispatch, OO including roles and introspection, laziness, junctions, types, meta-operators, user-defined operators and, of course, Perl 6’s take on many of the basic things you’d just expect to find in a language. There is also a decent variety of modules which reflect the growing Perl 6 ecosystem, including serializers for JSON and YAML, database connectivity, HTTP client and server, mathematical modeling, mock object testing, SVG and more. There’s a partial book to help people get started. And for Windows users, there’s now also a binary installer – something that I hope will be helpful (since while Rakudo will build on Windows without too much hassle, most people don’t have such a build environment to hand, and it’s quite a barrier to have to set it up).

Equally, there’s still plenty of work to do – the release announcement lays down a pretty good list of the major points. Many of the Rakudo developers will be meeting at YAPC::Europe next week, and I expect one thing that will come out of that will be an updated roadmap for Rakudo development, or at least the discussions that let us go away and write one. I expect a big focus from here on in is going to be speed. Another likely area of interest will be targeting additional backends. And, of course, we’ve got still got features left to implement – from here it’s a matter of prioritizing.

Anyway, enjoy Rakudo *, and I look forward to enjoying a beer with those of you who’ll be at YAPC next week. :-)

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