Rakudo Star 2012.09 released

On behalf of the Rakudo and Perl 6 development teams, I’m happy to announce the September 2012 release of “Rakudo Star”, a useful and usable distribution of Perl 6. The tarball for the September 2012 release is available from http://github.com/rakudo/star/downloads. A Windows .MSI version of Rakudo star will usually appear in the downloads area shortly after the tarball release.

In the Perl 6 world, we make a distinction between the language (“Perl 6″) and specific implementations of the language such as “Rakudo Perl”. This Star release includes release 2012.09.1 of the Rakudo Perl 6 compiler, version 4.6.0 of the Parrot Virtual Machine, and various modules, documentation, and other resources collected from the Perl 6 community.

Some of the new features added to this release include:

* Basic macro support!

* Support for Perl 5 (m:P5/…/) regex syntax!

* Indirect type names in routine and type declarations are supported.

* We support the “is export” trait on constant declarations.

* The “is hidden” and base traits are supported.

* Str.wordcase, is-prime, and expmod are implemented.

* Compilation is slightly faster than before.

* Tie-breaking with constraints selects the first matching constraint rather than demanding mutual exclusion.

* Smart matching against Signature literals, and binding to Signatures in declarators.

This release also contains a range of bug fixes, improvements to error reporting and better failure modes. More exceptions are thrown as typed exceptions, and more meta-model errors have been fixed to properly report line numbers.

The following features have been deprecated or modified from previous releases due to changes in the Perl 6 specification, and are being removed or changed as follows:

* Iterable is now a role instead of a class, and no longer inherits from Cool.

* Parameters preceded by a | or \ can no longer have a sigil.

* IO::Path.dir (which returns the directory part of the path) has been renamed to IO::Path.directory. IO::Path.dir will be removed or re-purposed.

* The Str.ucfirst builtin is deprecated; it will be replaced by Str.tc.

* The (experimental) LAZY statement prefix will soon be removed.

* Leading whitespace in rules and under :sigspace will no longer be converted to <.ws> . For existing regexes that expect this conversion, add a <?> in front of leading whitespace to make it meta again.

* The ?-quantifier on captures in regexes currently binds the capture slot to a List containing either zero or one Match objects; i.e., it is equivalent to “** 0..1″. In the future, the ?-quantifier will bind the slot directly to a captured Match or to Nil. Existing code can manage the transition by changing existing ?-quantifiers to use “** 0..1″, which will continue to return a List of matches.

There are some key features of Perl 6 that Rakudo Star does not yet handle appropriately, although they will appear in upcoming releases. Some of the not-quite-there features include:
* advanced macros
* threads and concurrency
* Unicode strings at levels other than codepoints
* interactive readline that understands Unicode
* non-blocking I/O
* much of Synopsis 9

There is an online resource at http://perl6.org/compilers/features that lists the known implemented and missing features of Rakudo and other Perl 6 implementations.

In many places we’ve tried to make Rakudo smart enough to inform the programmer that a given feature isn’t implemented, but there are many that we’ve missed. Bug reports about missing and broken features are welcomed at rakudobug@perl.org.

See http://perl6.org/ for links to much more information about Perl 6, including documentation, example code, tutorials, reference materials, specification documents, and other supporting resources. A draft of a Perl 6 book is available docs/UsingPerl6-draft.pdf in the release tarball.

The development team thanks all of the contributors and sponsors for making Rakudo Star possible. If you would like to contribute, see http://rakudo.org/how-to-help, ask on the perl6-compiler@perl.org mailing list, or join us on IRC #perl6 on freenode.

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