Perl 6
Perl 6 Language Design Tablet: Revision 29

Overview - Chapter: 0:Intr, 1:Hist, 2:Design, 3:Var, 4:Op, 5:IO, 6:{}, 7:Sub, 8:OOP, 9:Rx - Appendices: A:Index, B:Tables, C:Cook, D:Delta, E:Best of, F:Links

Larry Wall: You should not take this picture to mean that linguistics is the opposite of common sense. But ehm, there are many computer scientists, who have complained that it should be more like engineering and less like an art. And I disagree. But thats oukay.

Main Goal

Enjoy Life and enjoy the freedom of expressing yourself. Which means: support you as much as possible and not to force you in any way. Perl 6 likes to be even better than Perl 5, your humble servant for translating your thoughts into binary code (if possible).


Every style and level of expertise has to be supported and even more difficult: all of them have to play together well. The default often imitates a natural language (i.e. english). Strategies and concepts for this are coined in several often repeated terms.



The everlasting slogan: "There is more then one way to do it.", meaning your way is valid too. Only be aware of logical consequences.

Visual Metaphor

People like to overview their code like a picture at the first glance. Therefore names and operators should be distinctive from each other but similar are allowed to look similar, different definitively not. Larry likes to add: weird thinks should also look weird. And sometimes even character can be Ideogram like the Z-Mataoperator, which shows how he works (first left then right then next left ....).


This has also to do with natural attention flow. If a topic or first word of a sentence sets an understandable context for the following, the meaning is building up word for word and is much easier to grasp, than if the last word of a block resolves its whole meaning (like regex modifier in Perl 5 did). Especially "for" and "given" are called topicalizer, because they set $_, the context variable.

Context sensitive

The same term or symbol might do different things in different contexts, although we done our very best that it always represents the same general idea. Maybe the best example is the * aka Whatever. But every context is it's own world, optimized to solve the problems of that world.

Maximum reusage

Not only syntax is reused, to minimize the stuff you have to remember, but also concepts are reused wherever possible. Pairs are e.g. used to build hashes or named parameters in routines calls. There are plenty more examples. Maybe the biggest one: the regex engine that parses your code is the same as you use in your program.

No special rules

Most of the special rules that plagued Perl 5 are gone or generalized.

Keep easy things easy and hard things possible

Beside TIMTOWTDI, the other ancient slogan is "Keep easy things easy and hard things possible." Even if nearly every cool idea is crammed into Perl 6, we don't lose track of the basics and make them as accessible and free of artificial prerequisites as possible, e.g. printing a variable as a line without quoting and "\n" (say), or reading a file without a file handle (with slurp and lines). Rule of thumb: if you can think of an concept as trivial, then it should be. And if you on the other hand can think of a computable solution, it should be at last doable in Perl (no artificial walls).

Huffman coding

That's a refinement of the last rule. It means that all the common, often used things have short straightforward names. The more verbose indicate less used, harder to grasp concepts or things that overwrite the default rules ("weird things should look weird"). It also implies that the defaults are leaning toward what a beginner/non-perl 5-programmer might expect ("hide the fancy stuff").

Water bed theory of linguistic complexity

The underlying philosophy of the two terms before. All Perl words should reflect logical units which you can combine freely. Making it more complicated than necessary is obviously not aspiring. But oversimplification will create artificial complexity somewhere else. Like a water bed where you can push your hand in somewhere but the water will go up in another spot.

All your paradigms are belong to us

We learn/take/adapt from every source possible to offer the best of all breeds. And you should be able to keep your style when switching to Perl. Some of the paradigmes are structured, object oriented, aspect oriented, functional, design by contract, declarative and logical.

Buzzword compliant

This term is an extension to the last one. Not only every programming paradigm but also every technique or neat trick loudly marketed out there as "must have" "in the [%DATE%]", should be available in Perl 6 (or at least be possible) as long there is productive value in it. "named parameters", "lvalue subroutines", "parametizable subclasses" or "hygienic macros" are just a few.

Second system syndrome

An addon to the previous that should tell you: We are very aware that many ambitious software projects that were built from scratch failed. Especially those who aimed to be the "even better in all terms" successors of already successful creations. In fact, this happened so often that the term second system syndrome was coined. We chose this path for Perl 6 nevertheless, because we believe its the only way to get a significantly better language. (Gradual improvements are flowing into Perl 5 all the time and are sometimes inspired from Perl 6.) That's why the unofficial motto of Perl 6 is "Second system syndrome done right".

As a consequence of these principles, the following trends are observable.

Overview - Chapter: 0:Intr, 1:Hist, 2:Design, 3:Var, 4:Op, 5:IO, 6:{}, 7:Sub, 8:OOP, 9:Rx - Appendices: A:Index, B:Tables, C:Cook, D:Delta, E:Best of, F:Links

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