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jnthn/ Secret

Created Dec 1, 2015
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Proposal for 6.c release and beyond

Proposal for 6.c release and beyond

For review, nothing set in sand yet (and these things should never be set in stone; we need to keep learning and adapting them over time).

Rakudo branches

We want to provide a little more stability than we attain today in terms of releases, but at the same time don't want to slow down development notably. Therefore:

  • Development work will continue on the nom branch (which we might rename, but it'll end up bikeshed to death and it's in muscle memory, so we'll probably leave it as is.)
  • Commit policy on "nom" is pretty much as today
  • The camelia bot will build from "nom"
  • A "master" branch will be created and will become the default branch people pull, that things like rakudobrew build if asked to get the latest non-release, and that we release from
  • An automated process will fast-forward master to catch up with nom at regular intervals, provided it meets a bunch of automated quality checks

These automated quality checks are as follows:

  • Clean test/spectest on Moar
  • Clean test/spectest on JVM
  • Panda bootstrap works
  • We'll identify and snapshot a selection of modules (around 100) that have passing tests. We should be able to build and pass tests on this selection (showing we didn't regress on a bunch of ecosystem things). Note that we snapshot them so as to avoid issues with changes in the modules themselves that cause failures that are not Rakudo bugs. We'll revise this set every so often to remain representative.

GitHub doesn't let us configure per-branch permissions, so we can't prevent pushes to master that way. But we can have a pre-push hook to try and prevent mistakes.


Releases will be cut from master. The release manager will have the advantage of knowing they are release something that has already passed a bunch of automated quality checks. The release process will be something like:

  • Create a release branch based off master
  • Do release-related commits in the branch (announcement, last change log updates, bump VERSION, etc.)
  • Cut the release (produce the tarball, etc.)
  • Tag the released commit
  • Merge the release branch into nom (so it will end up merged into master also later)

We can script some of this (the branch creation, stubbing announcement, bumping VERSION, and then another script to do the merge back into nom afterwards).


The Perl 6 language is defined by its test suite. A particular release of the language is, therefore, a release of the test suite. To make sure we don't regress on things that we decided are part of the 6.c language, we need to make sure that we don't unknowingly change such tests.

One way to do this is:

  1. Create a 6c directory in roast.
  2. Create a speculation directory in roast.
  3. Look through for tests we run, but that we don't think are part of 6.c (the macros tests are such an example: we know we do not want to commit to the current implementation.) Move those tests into the speculation directory (retaining the Snn-foo directory structure).
  4. Move all remaining unfudged test files that we run in t/ on Moar into the 6c directory (again, retaining Snn-foo structure).
  5. Split the Moar-fudged test files up into the fudged tests (which go in speculation) and the passing ones (which go into 6c).

Then, it will be really, really obvious is we go modifying a test that was in the 6.c release (which we almost certainly shouldn't do most of the time; at most we may add a deprecated marker if we decided that, say, 6.f is not going to pass this test any more).

Language versioning

The Perl 6 language has version numbers v6.c, v6.d, v6.e, and so forth. These are very much like C has C89, C99, and C11. Each language version is defined by its test suite.

Rakudo is a Perl 6 implementation, as GCC, Clang, and MSVC are implementations of the C language. Rakudo has monthly releases (2015.12, 2016.01, etc.) For the moment, we don't make any distinction between these releases; they are all equally "supported".

Each Rakudo release must indicate the maximum version of Perl 6 it supports, and this should be included prominently in the release announcement, for example in the title, such as: "Rakudo 2016.01 (implements Perl 6.c)".

A Perl 6 source file without a "use v???" line will be run at the latest language version that the current implementation supports (as will -e and the REPL). A source file with "use v6.X" (where X is meta) should be treated as follows:

  • If X is higher than the implementation currently supports, then it should refuse to go any further.
  • If X is lower than the implementation supports, it should also refuse to go any further.
  • Otherwise, it enables everything that should be available at that language version.
  • A straight "use v6" at the top level is equivalent to "use v6.c". However, a "use v6" after a "use v6.d" implies 6.d. This is to facilitate language version switching between 5/6 ala. the v5 module.
  • The spectests for 6.c should all "use v6.c"

The way we choose to support different versions will evolve over time, as we (hopefully) get collectively smart enough to figure it out. :-) But roughly, we'll do something like this:

  • For added syntax, the grammar should check the language version in an assertion
  • Additions to the setting will be made in a "nested" setting. That is, a "use v6.d" will load CORE.d.setting or so. It can use augment and supercede in order to effect changes.

To facilitate this, for now at least, we'll require that a "use v6.X" is the first non-comment, non-whitespace declaration in a file. Anything later will trigger a "too late to switch Perl 6 language version".

Experimental features

Experimental features can be turned on with a pragma:

use experimental :macros;

These are implementation specific and can go away at any time, though we'll likely be kind enough to give deprecation cycles.

Trying out the "next version"

To try out v6.d before the compiler officialy supports it, you can write:

use v6.d.PREVIEW;

If anyone asks about 6.d and beyond...

About Perl 6.d, expect an incremental update.

  • It'll focus heavily on broadening test coverage to tighten up the language definition
  • It will include various small things we wished we could have done in 6.c, but just didn't have time: the missing regex backtracking controls, the sub-byte int types, non-parameter cases of coercion types, things we discover people miss especially in IO, etc.
  • Goal is sometime in 2016; we'll judge it based upon what we see (like, if there is a strong desire to get an incremental update out the door to cover things people really block on not having, we can do so)

A lot of effort in 2016 will go on performance engineering and making things more robust. Macros and slangs are the biggest post-6.c project language wise; if they happen to be in great shape by 6.d then they can make it in, but if not they'd be a reasonable target for 6.e.


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@ghost ghost commented Dec 1, 2015

Github doesn't have per-branch permissions, but it does have per-branch merge sanity checks:


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@skids skids commented Dec 2, 2015

I's suggest expanding the "Panda bootstrap works" to ensure that also rebootstrap and a simulated set of workflows complete successfully, such as installing a new version of a module. (In general we need to start banging out what the workflow needs to be for ecosystem tasks module developers and light-duty language bugfixers are likely to engage in, both as tests and as a howto, IMO)


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@japhb japhb commented Dec 2, 2015

It might be useful to test both Panda and zef to further ensure that module/ecosystem metadata/APIs remain sufficiently stable and we don't get a false positive from one of them happening to track Rakudo changes at just the right time.

Also, I find myself a bit dubious that there is enough time to do a good job of making non-6.c features experimental-only by the December Rakudo release -- but maybe someone will take that as a challenge. :-)


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@skids skids commented Dec 24, 2015

It occured to me it might be useful to have a tag for tests added to roast after the 6.c release which the 6.c rakudo release already passes -- basically behavior we want to keep, isn't new, but forgot to test.

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