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Perl 6 development began in 2000, and ten years later it remains unready for production; thus several developers have come along and kick-started Perl 5 development once again – and now Perl 5.12 has been released.

Jesse Vincent made the announcement on the Perl development mailing list; he also announced the new release schedule for Perl 5, which is a production release in the spring and a development release monthly. The official release page for Perl 5.12 is over at CPAN:

Over at ActiveState – the best-known supporter of commercial scripting languages such as Perl, Ruby, and Tcl – the ActiveState blog announced the release of Perl 5.12, followed by the release of ActiveState Perl 5.12.

For HP-UX, Merlijn Brand announced he was building Perl 5.12 for HP-UX, and the HP-UX Porting Centre already has Perl 5.12 packaged for download.

HP uses ActiveState Perl for HP-UX, but uses standard Perl on OpenVMS. I don’t see any word about 5.12 on OpenVMS, but no doubt it will come. Likewise, Perl 5.12 on HP-UX will have to run through the vetting process before it is officially introduced into HP-UX.

I see that Ubuntu has not rolled out Perl 5.12 into Karmic Koala. Their software roll-outs also depend on Debian, so we’ll see how long this takes.

Part of the reason that Perl 5 was revived is because the development of Perl 6 – a complete rewrite and redesign from scratch – is taking so long. Arguably, the complete redesign of Perl is contributing to the stagnation of Perl development (until this year). A complete redesign is a difficult thing, and some people believe that the redesign of the Netscape browser lead to Netscape’s downfall.

It really does appear that a complete redesign of a successful software project is rarely successful; more successful is the evolving process that most software goes through – including, in some cases, refactoring and subsystem replacements (for example, replacing the virtual memory subsystem in the Linux kernel or the replacement of the Ruby execution interpreter for 1.9).

We’ll just see what the future holds for Perl 6 – but I’m not holding my breath.