The Parrot is dead. Long live the Parrot?

Allison Randal allison at
Wed Feb 13 02:23:19 UTC 2013

On 02/12/2013 05:05 PM, Andrew Whitworth wrote:
> I'm sorry to sound so negative here. I've been reflecting for a few
> weeks and have reached some conclusions that I'm not happy with. I'm
> not suggesting that anybody stop working on Parrot, but we have to be
> a heck of a lot more realistic about what our goals are and take a
> long hard look at what we hope to accomplish. The old philosophical
> points that set Parrot apart from other VM projects don't
> differentiate us anymore. Maybe that's where we need to start our
> conversation.

Well, yes. You're pretty much walking through exactly the same things we
all walked through on IRC over the weekend.

I'll take you a step further: Assume that Parrot is dead. The last
active developer announced his retirement on Friday. Everyone has
reached the conclusion that the vision was too grand and too slowly
executed. We inspired JVM and .Net to dive into dynamic languages: yay!
They had more money to throw at it and leap-frogged us: tough break.

So, what's next? We can officially declare the game over and all go
home. Sigh of relief from some people. But, there are also some pretty
cool bits in the codebase, and some of us are still curious if we can do
something more interesting than stick them in an archive. The risk is
low, I mean the worst that could happen is we decide that Parrot is
dead, and since we've already decided it's dead, that's not much of a risk.

Most languages that Parrot hosts now already have existing
implementations that work perfectly well. Not a lot of value to add
there. Perl 6 is interesting because it has one implementation that uses
Parrot, and no production usable implementations at all. It's true that
Parrot will never outdo the JVM or .Net on their own playing fields. But
it might beat them *for Perl 6*, by being lighter, faster, more tightly
adapted to the needs of Perl 6 as a language, and just flat-out more
Perlish. That's something JVM and .Net will never do.

Call it an experiment,

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