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3.2 Architectural Considerations

The second set of principles governs the overall architecture of Perl 6. These principles are connected to the past, present, and future of Perl, and define the fundamental purpose of Perl 6. No principle stands alone; each is balanced against the others.

3.2.1 Perl Should Stay Perl

Everyone agrees that Perl 6 should still be Perl, but the question is, what exactly does that mean? It doesn't mean Perl 6 will have exactly the same syntax. It doesn't mean Perl 6 will have exactly the same features. If it did, Perl 6 would just be Perl 5. So, the core of the question is what makes Perl "Perl"? True to the original purpose

Perl will stay true to its designer's original intended purpose. Larry wanted a language that would get the job done without getting in his way. The language had to be powerful enough to accomplish complex tasks, but still lightweight and flexible. As Larry is fond of saying, "Perl makes the easy things easy and the hard things possible." The fundamental design philosophy of Perl hasn't changed. In Perl 6, the easy things are a little easier and the hard things are more possible. Familiarity

Perl 6 will be familiar to Perl 5 users. The fundamental syntax is still the same. It's just a little cleaner and a little more consistent. The basic feature set is still the same. It adds some powerful features that will probably change the way we code in Perl, but they aren't required.

Learning Perl 6 will be like American English speakers learning Australian English, not English speakers learning Japanese. Sure, there are some vocabulary changes, and the tone is a little different, but it is still—without any doubt—English. Translatable

Perl 6 will be mechanically translatable from Perl 5. In the long term, this isn't nearly as important as what it will be like to write code in Perl 6. But during the transition phase, automatic translation will be important. It will allow developers to start moving ahead before they understand every subtle nuance of every change. Perl has always been about learning what you need now and learning more as you go.

3.2.2 Important New Features

Perl 6 will add a number of features such as exceptions, delegation, multi-method dispatch, continuations, coroutines, and currying, to name a few. These features have proven useful in other languages and provide a great deal of power for solving certain problems. They improve the stability and flexibility of the language.

Many of these features are traditionally difficult to understand. Perl takes the same approach as always: provide powerful tools, make them easy to use, and leave it up to the user to decide whether and how to use them. Most users probably won't even know they're using currying when they use the assuming method.

Features like these are an important part of preparing Perl for the future. Who knows what development paradigms might develop in a language that has this combination of advanced features in a form easily approachable by the average programmer. It may not be a revolution, but it's certainly evolution.

3.2.3 Long-Term Usability

Perl 6 isn't a revision intended to last a couple of years and then be tossed out. It's intended to last 20 years or more. This long-range vision affects the shape of the language and the process of building it. We're not interested in the latest fad or in whipping up a few exciting tricks. We want strong, dependable tools with plenty of room to grow. And we're not afraid to take a little extra time now to get it right. This doesn't mean Perl 6.0 will be perfect, any more than any other release has been perfect. It's just another step of progress.

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