The Importance of a Number


Today I'm editing the Modern Perl book and the Rakudo Perl 6 book. The human brain is wonderful at seeing patterns, even unintentional and nonexistent. I saw the word "Perl" in both book titles and wondered at the confusion.

Why is Modern Perl clearly about Perl 5? Why does Rakudo Perl 6 need a version number? As Patrick wrote a couple of weeks ago:

Perl 5 doesn't get to claim the entire mantle of the name "Perl" for itself forever.

Granted, Modern Perl is my book, published by my company, and I have the final say on anything on or in the book—but can anyone think of a good reason not to rename it to Modern Perl 5?

(Note that Andy Lester suggested saying "Perl 5" when you mean "Perl 5" almost a year ago, and he was right.)


Good reason? No. But I must say I find the number distracting and unnecessary. I think Modern Perl is just a better title for a book than Modern Perl 5. I can't really say why. Maybe it's just conditioning. Consider all of the good books with just "Perl" in the title versus the somewhat sketchier books with "Perl 5" in the title. If anything, I'd recommend dropping the 6 from the Rakudo Perl book.

p.s. The link to Modern Perl book above is missing the _book at the end.

I think "Modern Perl 5" is a wonderful title, since the book is actually about the modern way to use Perl 5. It describes the product so clearly.

"Modern Perl" could easily be assumed to be about Perl 6 to the casual observer not following the Modern Perl movement.

I would stick to "Modern Perl". Your reasons to add the number are valid, but in the end, to me at least, "Modern Perl" is a simple and elegant title, "Modern Perl 5" is not. The 5 drags it down. It screams "this book has an expiration date" (aka: "don't buy me!" ;--). In the end the title doesn't matter that much, I am pretty sure people who will buy the book will know what Perl 5 and Perl 6 are, which one this book is about, and what they are getting.

I think "Modern Perl 5" is a better title - it's certainly more accurate. You'll lose the odd sale (people wanting a Perl 6 book and not reading the jacket properly) - but do you want to sell your book to people who wanted something else and will probably give it bad reviews?

I'd stick to "Modern Perl" beccause it's simple and "powerful".

Just "subtitle" it, if you really want to specify it ("Perl 5 right use","Perl 5 state of the art" or whatever)

I think "Modern Perl" is the right title here.

However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I also think "Perl 6" should be called something else.

What should Perl 6's name be, and why?

(What should Perl 5's name have been, in 1993?)

I have heard several Perl 6 people state, in effect, that it's too late to change the name of Perl 6, but with hindsight it would have been better to pick a different name because Perl 6 is not simply a new version of Perl 5, but is in fact a different (albeit related) language.

However, I haven't heard any good reasons as to *why* it's too late to change the name. Google, IBM, Yahoo, etc. would also disagree that it's too late. So if you really do think that a different name would be better, I'd suggest you seriously consider the issue soon. The refusal to change the name also affects Perl 5, which is now permanently limited to point releases.

As to what would be a good name, I don't know other than it would have to have 'Perl' in the name somewhere. Perl++ perhaps?

I find that reasoning silly. Does anyone believe that Perl 5 would have successively evolved into something sufficiently incompatible with Perl 5 to merit a new version number?

I'd still like an answer to my implicit question of what makes a language Perlish and why calling Perl 5 "Perl" when it's so very different from Perl 4 was okay.

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This page contains a single entry by chromatic published on June 11, 2010 3:34 PM.

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