REGULAR EXPRESSION FANATICS can rejoice at the latest release of Perl and its commercial off-shoot, Activeperl.
The release, version 5.12, was let loose by the Perl Foundation yesterday.
Major revisions of the ultimate 'quick and dirty' scripting language have been few and far between, with this release taking around two years of development time.
This version brings greater conformity to the Unicode standard and the ability to use "pluggable keywords" to extend Perl. Also improved is Perl's ability to handle date and time operations, meaning that the effects of the "Y2K38" bug, a variant of the infamous 'millennium bug', have been mitigated.
Given that the inventor of Perl, Larry Wall, has moved on to the next version, which is version 6, updates for the venerable Perl language version 5, which is favoured by many experienced coders for its still unsurpassed text parsing functionality, have been thin on the ground.
However, after some reshuffling, updates to the Perl '5 track' have become more frequent. Although 5.12 is unlikely to be the final release of Perl 5, as version 6 of the Perl language nears production ready status it is likely to see more attention.
The Perl language is also famous for its O'Reilly Llama book, which is considered by most as the starting point for anyone wanting to learn it. In the past decade, as the use of CGI web scripts has waned, Perl has become more of a niche player in web scripting. Nevertheless the language still retains a loyal following, especially in the open source community.
A comprehensive list of improvements, fixes and updates has been made available. Those who fancy experiencing the joy of coding densely cryptic regular expressions can now do so far beyond 2038. µ