Rakudo Star 2012.08 released

Patrick R. Michaud pmichaud at pobox.com
Sat Sep 1 00:19:19 UTC 2012


On behalf of the Rakudo and Perl 6 development teams, I'm happy to
announce the August 2012 release of "Rakudo Star", a useful and
usable distribution of Perl 6.  The tarball for the August 2012
release is available from <http://github.com/rakudo/star/downloads>.
A Windows .MSI version of Rakudo Star is also being made available
in the downloads area.

In the Perl 6 world, we make a distinction between the language 
("Perl 6") and specific implementations of the language such as
"Rakudo Perl".  This Star release includes release 2012.08 [0] of the
Rakudo Perl 6 compiler [1], version 4.6 of the Parrot Virtual
Machine [2], and various modules, documentation, and other
resources collected from the Perl 6 community.

Some of the new features added to this release include:

* Rakudo Star now includes a Perl 6 debugger!  The debugger allows
  single-stepping, setting breakpoints, variable inspection/modification, 
  regex debugging, and more!  Enter "perl6-debug <script.pl>" to run 
  a script in debugging mode.  Enter "help" from a debug prompt to
  see the available commands.

* Memory usage of the build stage has been reduced by 35% - 40%.  This
  makes it possible to build and compile Rakudo Star on machines with
  less memory (although 1.2GB may still be needed for some 64-bit
  environments).

* Variables prefixed by | or \ in signatures are now sigilless, per updates
  to the Perl 6 specification.

* Circularities in module loading are now detected.

* An improved inliner, allowing a wider range of routines to be inlined.

* Str.bytes and lcfirst have been removed.  The tclc builtin
  has been added.

* 'abs' is now a normal subroutine instead of a prefix operator.

* IO::File and IO::Dir have been removed.

* The integer argument to IO::Socket.recv is now interpreted as 
  a number of characters/codepoints.

This release also contains a range of bug fixes, improvements to error
reporting and better failure modes. More exceptions are thrown as typed
exceptions, and more meta-model errors have been fixed to properly
report line numbers.

The following features have been deprecated or modified from previous
releases due to changes in the Perl 6 specification, and are being removed
or changed as follows:

* Parameters preceded by a | or \ can no longer have a sigil.

* IO::Path.dir (which returns the directory part of the path) has been
  renamed to IO::Path.directory.  IO::Path.dir will be removed or
  re-purposed.

* The Str.ucfirst builtin is deprecated; it will be replaced by Str.tc.

* The (experimental) LAZY statement prefix will soon be removed.

* Leading whitespace in rules and under :sigspace will no longer be
  converted to <.ws> .  For existing regexes that expect this conversion,
  add a <?> in front of leading whitespace to make it meta again.

* The ?-quantifier on captures in regexes currently binds the capture
  slot to a List containing either zero or one Match objects; i.e., it
  is equivalent to "** 0..1".  In the future, the ?-quantifier will
  bind the slot directly to a captured Match or to Nil.  Existing code
  can manage the transition by changing existing ?-quantifiers to
  use "** 0..1", which will continue to return a List of matches.

There are some key features of Perl 6 that Rakudo Star does not
yet handle appropriately, although they will appear in upcoming
releases.  Some of the not-quite-there features include:

  * macros
  * threads and concurrency
  * Unicode strings at levels other than codepoints
  * interactive readline that understands Unicode
  * non-blocking I/O
  * much of Synopsis 9

There is an online resource at http://perl6.org/compilers/features 
that lists the known implemented and missing features of Rakudo Star
2012.08 and other Perl 6 implementations.

In many places we've tried to make Rakudo smart enough to inform the
programmer that a given feature isn't implemented, but there are
many that we've missed.  Bug reports about missing and broken
features are welcomed at <rakudobug at perl.org>.

See http://perl6.org/ for links to much more information about 
Perl 6, including documentation, example code, tutorials, reference
materials, specification documents, and other supporting resources.
A draft of a Perl 6 book is available as <docs/UsingPerl6-draft.pdf> 
in the release tarball.

The development team thanks all of the contributors and sponsors
for making Rakudo Star possible.  If you would like to contribute,
see <http://rakudo.org/how-to-help>, ask on the perl6-compiler at perl.org
mailing list, or join us on IRC #perl6 on freenode.

[0] https://github.com/rakudo/rakudo/blob/nom/docs/announce/2012.08
[1] http://github.com/rakudo/rakudo
[2] http://parrot.org/


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